Cool Story, Bro: My Favorite Short Work of May and June

(Yes, May and June. I’m running a little behind.)

Maya Chhabra, “Swansong: a theory of poetry” (Through the Gate, May 8)

A beautiful, wistful fairytale metaphor for the creative process.


Vanessa Fogg, “The Message” (The Future Fire, Issue 2019.48)

This is a story of two queer teenagers who might or might not fully return each other’s love, an alien message that humanity might or might not ever be able to decipher, and a background global situation that might or might not be getting inescapably worse, all the time. My favorite thing about it might be the way it depicts fandom and Internet friendships, the complex things that the characters’ shared fannish interest means to them and to their relationship. The longing and uncertainty, throughout the story, is poignantly palpable.


Brit E.B. Hvide, “A Catalog of Love at First Sight” (Uncanny, Issue Twenty-Eight)

This is climate fiction that walks a tightrope between the extremes of our current ecological anxieties, giving in neither to utopianism nor despair. What holds it together is, as the title suggests, love – not merely a romantic relationship, although there’s a nice queer romance in here, but a whole mess of loves and longings and complicated attachments that serve to ground the narrator through every upheaval. If we can’t save ourselves, maybe we can still save each other.


Nibedita Sen, “We Sang You as Ours” (The Dark, Issue 49)

A coming-of-age story involving a family of siren-like creatures, who need to lure humans into the deeps to feed to a monstrous, chthonic father figureā€¦ or do they? There’s a real aquatic grace to the way this one is written, despite the grisly subject matter. It seems obvious where the ending will go, right up until the point where it doesn’t; the actual ending is beautiful, tenuous, hopeful.