I don’t think I get around to recommending short fiction much (which is a shame, because the short fiction market has historically been very significant for those of us who like sci-fi and fantasy, but the main market seems hyper-focused on novels these days), but I wanted to recommend “The Fisher Queen” by Alyssa Wong, a new talent on the market. Her story “Fisher Queen” is her first published, coming out in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction last summer (talk about starting big, geez–also, interview about the story here). She has since had a story published in Strange Horizons, but I haven’t had a chance to read that yet (edit: finally read it, and it is great! Really well done, Filipino (Filipina?) fantasy, and also an interesting exploration of the colonial tensions and the religious syncretism of that country). I found out about her story through Usman Malik’s list of favorite works for 2014 (need to read more on that list), which I in turn got from Tor’s Facebook page (and of course Tor.com had a ton of amazing stories last year as well–too many for me to keep up with). A quick note though–the story maybe deserves a bit of a trigger warning. Not that there is anything especially graphic here, but sexual violence does show up as an essential part of the story.
I believe I’ve mentioned before that I really appreciate those authors who can take the speculative fiction genres (sci-fi and fantasy are the big two, I guess) and say something with them that just can’t be said with more “mundane” genres, or at least not as effectively, or in quite the same way. Alyssa’s story is a great example of that, in this case (to my mind) bringing together feminist and ecocritical approaches in a very concrete way–not an unusual alignment in literature, theoretical and otherwise, but because this is speculative fiction we see what would otherwise be a more metaphorical or allegorical rhetorical moment made concrete and “real”–sure, it is imaginary, but the imaginary elements serve as a very effective way to highlight aspects of the “real-world” that are not always obvious (to everyone, at least). Alyssa does an excellent job demonstrating the power of a “what-if” story with “Fisher Queen”, and I look forward to reading more of her work!