Just Love presents:
Do you think it’s hard to find the great short stories in the flood of everything that’s available online or in anthologies? Or maybe you want to dip your toes into reading short stories but don’t know where to start?
Well, we hope to help you out with that.
Or maybe you just want to talk to us about the short stories we’ve read and like to join us in squeeing over them and tell us your own favourites?
Either way, this new column is (hopefully) going to be a regular one here on Just Love and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Talking about and sharing books is, after all, one of our favourite things to do.
Crossing, by A.C. Wise, is available in full-text but also as a podcast from the publisher’s website. The audio for this episode is excellent! This story covers approximately 30 years of the life of Emma Rose, who has two things: a deep desire to swim the English Channel, and a woman who haunts her whenever she’s in the water. Emma Rose is born to swim, but she struggles with this supernatural aspect of her life. Is the other woman a mermaid, a ghost, or some part of Emma Rose, personified?
The romantic relationships that Emma Rose develops with other women in her life play a significant role here, and I loved how slowly and deliberately this story unfolds over so many years of her life. Some things do, in fact, take time. Emma Rose’s determination to achieve her childhood dream is so strong, as is her self-doubt of ever achieving that goal, that it made me ache for her as the story progressed, hoping she would overcome everything holding her back.
Tags: urban fantasy, lesbian characters
When I was checking out the cinema program recently, I stumbled upon the film The Shape of Water. We didn’t end up watching it, but its premise reminded me of one of my favourite short stories, Sand and Ruin and Gold, by Alexis Hall.
It’s a haunting tale about the creatures we treat as being less than human and the love between two species that are not compatible because one lives on land and the other in the water. It’s a story about identity, doing the right thing and sacrifice, and the voice in which it is told is beautiful yet devastating.
I had seen him made less than a beast. Mere object, commodity, a thing to be used. And I couldn’t care anymore what I was, or what he was, or if we were different or the same.
Tags: fantasy, male/male, captivity, circus
In Sun, Moon, Dust, by Ursula Vernon, Allpa inherits a magic sword from his grandmother, but he’s a farmer, not a fighter. This story is so delightfully frank in its complete dismissal of the traditional hero’s journey, and the easy, natural way that it upends gendered expectations. Allpa’s grandmother was the fierce warrior, but Allpa is a nurturer, through and through. His character is so strongly defined in this story, and even in the face of magic and the promise of adventure, he never swerves from his center.
Allpa’s interactions with the warriors trapped inside the sword give us a glimpse at a wider world of adventure and opportunity, and it is with one of the warriors that an opportunity of a different sort arises. There are so much detail and wonderful moments packed up tightly in this story, and it’s one of those stories that feels like a breath of fresh air every time I read it.
Tags: fantasy, gay characters
Poison Apples, by Kirby Crow, is an anthology that contains 4 queer fantasy short stories. They show us how love and connections can be found even in dark or hopeless places.
What I admire about the stories is how much thought and effort are being put into the setting and world building. Although the worlds are richly composed, they still leave much to think about and tease your imagination. The plot is also often surprising. Going into a story, you never know what to expect and this often keeps up until the end.
Of all the punishments I’d anticipated, victory was not one of them.
Now it’s your turn…
Have you read any of these stories yourself, then what did you think? Which of these sound the most interesting to you or can you recommend a good story yourself? We are always delighted to hear from you!