It's that time of month again — the random time when I belatedly put out reviews and choose favorites from two months ago. Here are my top picks for the month of August! These are the top 5 out of the 26 stories I read. August was a lighter month than July because some of the bimonthlies aren't out in August:
- Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System, by Carrie Vaughn (published by clarkesworldmagazine.com)
- Pollatomish, by Finbarr O’Reilly (published by clarkesworldmagazine.com)
- My Future Self, Refused, by Adam-Troy Castro (published by www.lightspeedmagazine.com)
- The Pirate's Consigliere, by Bo Balder (published by clarkesworldmagazine.com)
- Selected reviews of the Repro-Pro Artificial Womb, by Kara Lee (published by www.nature.com)
So Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System by Carrie Vaughn is our winner for August! Martian politics, spaceship crews working together, a sibling kidnapped, and some allusions to some interesting economics made this story unique and thought-provoking.
Pollatomish by Finbarr O’Reilly was a close second for the month of August. Starting a story with an act of terrorism tends to seize the attention, as long as you can follow it up with a strong plot and good characterizations. I'm always interested in stories that have details about economic systems, and I'd have been interested in even more details here.
My Future Self, Refused, by Adam-Troy Castro was an intense look at a science fiction author who has seen more than his share of hard times. It was not a pleasant story, but it was a compelling story — the emotion was raw in a way that you don't often see from SF shorts.
The Pirate's Consigliere, by Bo Balder was — let's face it — driven by outrageous violence. It was fun though, and the main character was a believable version of a person doing their best in a brutal culture. I love culture-clash stories, and this was a good one.
Selected reviews of the Repro-Pro Artificial Womb, by Kara Lee isn't a story in the classical sense, but it did a great job of building a world using the modern epistolary approach of product reviews. It's tiny and fun, go take a look!
As always I want to point out that the magazines that publish these stories operate on a shoestring budget and immense amounts of passion, and if you've been meaning to get a subscription to support their work you should go do it right now!
And I have a favor to ask. I'm mostly reading Clarkesworld, Analog, Lightspeed, tor.com, and Nature Futures, with some other browsing, so I know I'll miss a good hard SF story here and there. If you run across a short story outside those magazines for September/October that you'd think fits the Compelling Science Fiction ethos, please send it to me! If it gets on my top list I'll call you out in that month's post, and you will have my gratitude. And if you think there are other hard SF magazines I should be reading cover-to-cover let me know that too!
Shirts for the Compelling Science Fiction Appreciation Award are in production! The design that won from last month's poll is above. I'm excited to start wearing that astronaut. I'll be sending one of these shirts to the winner of the CSF appreciation award every month. I'm not putting them up on a web store or anything, but for you readers who subscribe here and live in the US I'll mail you one if you paypal $30 to https://paypal.me/compellingsf
. Sorry for the high price point, manufacturing and shipping were higher than normal on these. If you're outside the country and really want one send me a note and I'll get a quote for shipping. I didn't print very many this time around, so it's first come first served. They should go out in November sometime. Take care everyone, I'll be getting the September reviews up soon.