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Short Fiction Review — January 2024

By Danai Christopoulou in Issue Thirteen, January 2024

"For as Long as You Want It" by Kanishk Tantia (Apex 142)

Atha, a dying Oldie, part of a near obsolete generation who doesn’t believe in downloading their consciousness to “the collective,” makes his Promisor, a Modern called Ryegrass, take care of his garden after he dies. The Modern is content to let the garden dry out, until he spots a new sprout and feels called to water it. In this short but poignant piece of flash fiction that conceals more than it reveals, Kanishk Tantia delivers a subtle criticism of technology’s promise that simulated intelligence is just as impactful as hands-on experience, juxtaposing it with the power of the natural world to ground us in the now. A hopeful, tender thesis about how, even when neglected, Nature can win us over in the end.

"Kiss of Life" by P.C. Verrone (Fiyah #29)

Every so often, you come across a story that you don’t know how to describe; words seem inadequate for the luminous work that is Kiss of Life by P.C. Verrone in the latest Fiyah issue. Much like the little girl of many names who was forced to join the Angels and become their mouthpiece, you can only bear witness to the beating heart of this piece, to its lyrical prose that hides so much horror in its deceptive softness. Discussions of colonization, of complicity, of violence in the name of a higher power and of passive resistance shine through a science fantasy lens that does not spare you one drop of blood in its effectiveness. This one will stay with you for a long time.

"Stars Don’t Dream" by Chi Hui, Translated by John Chu (Clarkesworld Issue 208 – January 2024)

Originally published in Chinese in A Collection of the 5th Lenghu Award Winning Stories, 2022, Stars Don’t Dream delivers a sprawling saga about humanity’s ability to dream—and how that can be both its downfall and its saving grace. Through a continuously zooming out sequence set in a world of sky-scraping dream towers, assistive armored exoskeletons, red light artificial wombs and giant spiders that carry human bodies from one city to another, we are being reminded of the insignificance of our own existence compared to the cosmos, but also of our innate ability to make unexpected connections and create change, however miniscule or incidental.

"Persistent" by AGA Wilmot (Gamut Magazine #1)

Gamut Magazine’s inaugural issue contains several impressive works of dark fiction. Among them, Persistent stands out for its powerful use of second person POV that forces the reader to experience the confusion and terror of Lenashore, as her world splits apart into myriads of possibilities and multiverses—some significantly more horrific than others. Through a prose that is accessible yet surprising, with similes that pull the rug from underneath one’s feet and flashbacks to Lenashore’s past that hint a realer monster might be hiding in this world, the reader is taken for a spin that simultaneously leaves them dazzled, desperate, hopeful, fearful, frantic, and every other possible, persistent outcome in between.

© 2024 Danai Christopoulou

Danai Christopoulou

Danai Christopoulou is a queer Greek SFF author and editor. Danai’s nonfiction has appeared in publications such as Glamour and Marie Claire since 2004. They are an editor for Hugo-nominated khōréō magazine, an assistant editor for HavenSpec, and a literary agent in training at Tobias Literary Agency. Their short fiction has been published in khōréō, Fusion Fragment and others, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and featured in the official Nebula Reading List. Danai’s novels are represented by Lauren Bieker of FinePrint Literary.

Fiction by Danai Christopoulou
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