Since I'm focusing on writing short stories this year, I am also dedicating myself to (mostly) reading short stories. The plan is to go beyond a quick, consuming read and study the ones I appreciate the most so that I can see how they work. I'm talking about taking notes, even. I'm that serious. It's hard for short stories to get any attention at all, let alone the attention they deserve, so I also intend to periodically let people know about the recent ones I think are outstanding. I'd be grateful for any recommendations you can throw me in return!
Here's my first list:
"The Art Disease" - Dennis Danvers, Electric Velocipede, Issue 23: A strange and funny look at the artistic life and the outer limits of creativity. I laughed out loud at some of the lines in this one, and I want to read it again, and it also made me want to read more by this author.
"All the Painted Stars" - Gwendolyn Clare, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 64: Alien contact in the far future, seen through the alien's mind. There are so many great ideas in this story! I especially like the way it explores coping with isolation, and finding a purpose in life.
"The Five Elements of the Heart Mind" - Ken Liu, Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 20: A far-future love story about factors that affect human personality. Afterward, there's a note about the current science that inspired it. Ken Liu has gotten my attention recently as an author whose work I like enough to buy a whole magazine to read his story.
"Sweetheart Showdown" - Sarah Dalton, Apex Magazine, Issue 32: Welcome to the future of competitive beauty! Where the cute must be brutal to survive! This story reveals what beauty pageants will inevitably become.