“I started writing five years ago by participating in a weekly flash fiction challenge, and this story began as a 250 word sketch based on a photo of an empty swing.”
The Hugo Awards have these things they call nominations tallys but they are commonly referred to as The Long Lists. These include the top fifteen nominees, and show who just missed making the finals. For example, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Mothership Zeta all made the long list last year for Semiprozine.
One of the great values of these long lists is that it allows readers even more excellent works to add to their “to read” pile. David Steffen has worked to make mining those lists significantly more convenient for you. For the third year in a row, David has published a volume of The Long List Anthology. In this most recent version are included works from names familiar to fans of Escape Artists. Lavie Tidhar, Ursula Vernon, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Ken Liu, among a host of amazing others.
Want to know what sort of story makes it to this anthology? Go listen to episode 607 of Escape Pod and catch Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo. Been procrastinating picking up Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw or Run Time by Escape Pod’s S.B. Divya? This anthology will assuage your guilt. You can find The Long List Anthology Volume 3 at all the usual purveyors of books. If you’re already the proud owner of this book, become a subscribing supporter of Diabolical Plots which is also edited by David Steffen. Subscribing there puts you in line early for not only the ebooks of the original stories published in Diabolical Plots, but also gets you in line early for The Long List Anthology Volume 4. Go support this fantastically creative human being.
From the Fertile Dark
by Rebecca J. Allred
As tendrils of spilled ink mingle with the pool of blood expanding around her knees, Charlotte paints the shadow child on a wall the shade of wilted daffodils. Upstairs, her husband packs his things, slipping quietly from her life even as the last of their children slips from her womb. There will be no call for the midwife who, with the blessings of the town elders, declared her pregnancy an abomination from the start. Neither will she seek the aid of the doctors from away. There is nothing either the ancient woman or the practitioners responsible for its inception can do to stay the flow of despair and failure seeping from Charlotte’s sex, and she is already intimately familiar with the details of post-miscarriage self-care.
Hands trembling, she outlines the shape of a girl, four years old, with soft curls that fall to her shoulders—an imitation of invented memory. With each stroke, Charlotte replaces the foul taste of Black Haw extract and Chaste Tree berry with the flavors of vanilla ice cream and birthday cake; the acrid scent of antiseptic and bleached linens with the fragrance of baby powder and warm milk; and the repeated pricks of needles that promised a miracle at the price of her friends and family with the soft ticklish flutter of butterfly kisses. In her mind, the short, hurried footsteps traversing the hallway are not the clatter of a runaway spouse, but an echo of a toddler fleeing bath time. Charlotte chases the phantom memory into darkness.