Traditionally, second-anniversary gifts are made of cotton. Last year, I noted that a paper anniversary is ironic for a Web site; this year, I saw no connection until I thought of the saying in the title, which made me think of how brief our stories are.
Since that’s what’s passing for cleverness right now, I think we’d all be better off if I just got to the stories.
If you’re not familiar with the term steampunk, we have a great story for you to learn from. It’s not quite science fiction — maybe alternate science fiction? — and not quite fantasy, although it often has fantastic elements. Its conceit is that science is based on steam or, in the subgenre clockpunk, springs and other mechanical devices, and it often has a literary quality to it that charms me differently than other forms of speculative fiction might. “Brass Canaries” by Gwendolyn Clare is a clockpunk story about the holiday shopping season as seen through the crystal eyes of the creatures named in the title. I don’t think I’ve seen such a uniformly positive response from our staff in a long time.
Our second story is our second story from Ray Vukcevich — no, that wasn’t a stammer, we published his “Suddenly Speaking” in September — and it’s a little less surreal than his first one. But “Note From The Future” has its quirks, too, and I still chuckle at the ending. Although Ray is known as a speculative fiction writer, and the title sounds like SF, the story is more literary. But flash fiction is hard to pigeonhole into genres, and whatever your usual preferences may be, I hope you like it.
“Catalyst” by Rick Novy is our most traditional science fiction story in the issue. Rick just finished NaNoWriMo (the writers among you will know what masochism that is) and is currently guest-editing issue 12 of Christopher Fletcher’s excellent M-Brane SF. Issue #11 was just released, so expect to see Rick’s contribution in January; meanwhile, you can check out some of the back issues in which he’s appeared, too.
One of the great things about having Bruce Holland Rogers write a column for the magazine is that he lets me reprint some of his most amazing stories. “Don Ysidro” is an incredible short story about life and love and death and life. Just go read it. (My other two favorites by Bruce are “Dinosaur”, which we’ve published, and “The Djinn Who Lives Between Night and Day”, which we haven’t — yet. All three are mind-blowing.) But this award-winning story is also an exemplar for the seventeenth installment of Short-short Sighted, his column about writing short-short stories. This month, he’s talking about ritual in writing: not the rituals you follow to write, but how to use ritual as an element to write tight, condensed, totally understandable short-short stories.
Really good Classic Flash can be hard to find, expecially if I’m looking for a story that suits a season or theme. As I have found several times before, though, the old British humo(u)r magazine, Punch, can be a really good source of worthwhile material. This month’s Classic Flash, “Christmas Presents, 1914.”, seemed touching and appropriate in these times of fiscal difficulties and, for some of us, war. It avoids being too sentimental, though, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Well, one of my favorite blogs is ours, courtesy of Bill Highsmith. If you’ve been paying attention this month, you’ve gotten links to everything from Van Gogh’s letters to the increasing vagueness of the English Language, from the best online SF humor to the worst library books. Check it out: It’s at the “News and Headlines” link on the left.
Last but not least, thanks to those of you who donated to us. Every cent goes to defray the cost of keeping the stories coming.
I think that’s it for now. Our next issue goes live on January 5, 2010. Until then, I hope you all have a blessed Christmas if that’s your persuasion, or other holiday season if it’s not.
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