Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Ten Short Reviews of Contemporary Short SFF

Okay, the Thorne story is from 2013. I slipped up there! But I’m trying to focus on new stuff here even when I know there is some really good stuff from last year that I ought to have gotten around to. (If a story comes in my email from Lyonesse or Sci Phi Journal that has a copyright date of 2016, though, I don’t even look at it!)

Anyway, I’ve done another five (count ’em, five) short reviews of short sff stories and folded them in to my ongoing rankings. Brian K. Lowe held on to his top spot this time, but I had some pulp revolutionary type come in and say that they liked Louise Sorensen’s better. Just before someone else butted in to say her story was the worst evah!

So yeah… the rankings are subjective. I like a combination of cogency and punch in short fiction. As to what I don’t like… well, check out the reviews for more on that!

  1. War of the Ruby by Brian K. Lowe (review here)
  2. The Thorne Legacy by J. D. Brink (review here)
  3. The Dragon’s Teeth by David Hallquist (review here)
  4. Darla of Deodanth by Louise Sorensen (review here)
  5. Samaritan by Karl K. Gallagher (review here)
  6. The Prolapsing Empire by E. Reagan Wright (review here)
  7. A Kiss for the Mirrorman by Adrian Cole (review here)
  8. The Dreaming Wounds by Anya Ow (review here)
  9. Empty Vessels by David O’Donoghue (review here)
  10. Cottage in the Woods by Gisele Peterson (review here)

If you have any suggestions for more stories I should take a look at, please let me know.

6 responses to “Ten Short Reviews of Contemporary Short SFF

  1. J. D. Brink April 14, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Jeffro, “Thorne” is from 2013 (actually, was a Writers of the Future finalist in 2012 and was originally written WAY before that), but up till now, no one’s ever noticed it existed, so… It’s like new. :)

    • jeffro April 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      I can salvage my shtick. The sequel came out this year, so I can can say I did it just to prepare to cover *that*. Then through a couple pulp revolution reviews from earlier in the year to even the count. Voila… 50/100/whatever reviews of stuff from 2017. Onward!

  2. J. D. Brink April 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Reblogged this on Brink's Chaos Theory and commented:
    Hugo-nominated blogger Jeffro Johnson gives up the skinny on 10 contemporary SF/F short stories. Worth a look! Maybe you’ll find something you want to read!

  3. Pingback: Geek Gab’s Pulp Extravaganza! –

  4. Glitchy Sprite April 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Someone posted a short history of D&D to an alternative conservative blog. Castalia House gets a brief reference, I’m not sure if they characterized you properly regarding Appendix N.

    But anyway, I was curious what you think of the thesis? In his posts on the first two pages or so, he ties some of the edition changes in D&D to the growth of more antisocial elements in nerddom. And people whose main reference point was other d&d, not history, appendix N. etc A couple of older guys reminisce about their 1979-198x gaming groups.

    • jeffro April 30, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      This is more or less a paraphrase of my thesis:

      “3rd generation D&D is the first degeneration; it’s the generation written by people who have no point of reference other than the hobby itself.”

      The reverse of this is something I observe in the pulps:

      “because it is disconnected from other people, it is also disconnected totally from history”

      This, however, is a newish insight:

      “Honestly, it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized that the timeline overlaps perfectly with the goonification of everything else, like How Comic Books Got Extremely Gay. This implies a common cause to goonism that lies outside of any one hobby.”

      This guy #86 has not read the pulps:

      “Now, to be clear, I’m not going full Castalia House and claiming that old-school genre fiction was the crowning achievement of 20th century literature. It wasn’t. The best you got was upper-midbrow stuff like Dune.”

      That is pig ignorant.

      #93 hasn’t read the pulps, either:

      “this is also why nerds must be stopped. Genre fiction isn’t literature 95 percent of the time, and never will be.”

      They don’t even know what we’ve lost.

      Science fiction and fantasy has a canon that was laid down between 1910 and 1940. It is way better than most people today can imagine. And the people that wrote it were quite literate and in conversation with history, science, myth, and legend. Sff was meant to be pure entertainment for the masses, but circumstances lead it to be the last redoubt of the heroic ideal. While literature and the arts fell sway to what these guys refer to as “goonyism”, inspiring works that reflect the best of western culture were being dashed off for a penny a word.

      And yes, Dunsany, Merritt, Howard, Smith, and Moore wrote better stuff than the 20th century fiction your English teacher made you read.

      The story of sff in the 20th century is the story of the “goonification” of sff. Rpgs got it starting in the eighties and worse in ~2000. If the problem is that fan fiction cut off from the roots is inherently noxious, then Appendix N is certainly an answer.

      For people that haven’t read enough classics of the field to grasp this, my book Appendix N provides a primer on the topic. And over at Castalia House blog you can see over a dozen people delve into the fascinating details of a great many topics that derive from this.

      It’s awesome.

      Dune, on the other hand, is goony sf.

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