…or, instead, why not read Xenogram: A Chronology Of The Global Erasure Of Vowel Number Three, And The Merger Of Man by Charles Ta, who has done for the sub-genre of fictionalised historical non-fiction of the future what I did in salute of Perec’s mind-and-language bending masterpiece of technique. Xenogram appears in the rather special Sci Phi Journal, which dedicates itself to publishing idea-driven fiction “at the cosmic intersection between speculative philosophy, cultural anthropology and hard SF”. If you like the pseudo-non-fictional form, SPJ is your ideal reference library.
Every quarter Baffling Magazine publishes speculative flash fiction with a queer bent, and this quarter I enjoyed the fantastical sf piece The Flame Without very much: in it, a quartet of exo-planetary explorers eagerly await mutation by their new home, but the narrator’s anticipation of gaining some strange new gift crumbles as they see their companions illuminated while they remain darkly mundane. It was only afterwards that I wondered as to whether Tarver Nova’s story was noticeably queered or not. Perhaps zines, like authors, are only as constrained by the identities they adopt as they choose to be.
The third tale I’d particularly like to recommend appears in DreamForge, a home to hopeful science fiction that seeks to shine an encouraging light in the downbeat darkness that often seems so popularly prevalent. The Jewel of the Waves, the Diadem of the Sky by Jared Oliver Adams presents an intriguing future of the possibly near variety, and while it does feature familiar dystopian elements (overcrowded cityscapes, compromised ecologies, technological implants, omnipresent surveillance) it also introduces inventive sociological twists, like semi-sibling police services of an oppositional nature, one imposing, the other nurturing – both well able to scrutinise in the interests of justice, and to look the other way.
To wrap up, a handful of mentions to other strong recent stories: The Incredible Exploding Woman and The Last Days of Bester and Alma, both in The Fabulist, were striking reads, so too in a calmer tone The Conch Shell in Metaphorosis. And a respectful nod in the direction of Presto Change-O, whose late author Warren Brown was a long-time participant behind the scenes at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and will be sorely missed.
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