Cool stories from July and August

Late, and short – the last month or so seems to have gotten away from me, as months often do – but here are my favorite short works that I read over the summer.

Caroline M. Yoachim, “Carnival Nine” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #228, May 11). A story about a world of wind-up toys who only have a certain number of “turns” per day. The metaphor for disability is so apt that at first it almost feels too on-the-nose, but by the time the story settles into the complexities and difficulties of its characters’ adult lives, it’s become compelling and really good.

Maddie Phelps, “Ocean Heart” (Strange Horizons, July 3). I have trouble expressing what I think about this one – a poem about boundaries and pressure, about choosing what we make of ourselves, about knowing one’s own depths. It’s good.

JY Yang, “Waiting on a Bright Moon” (Novelette,, July 12). Gorgeous and vicious, this is the story of a rebellion against a space-empire that turns queer women into magical transportation devices. There is magical singing, and space wizards, and characters in desparate circumstances finding love where they can. (And – be warned – the most grisly execution scene I’ve read in a while.) A story of the risks people take and the meaning they find for themselves in the face of intense oppression.