A short story a day review

Month: May, 2012

Monsters of the Deep, Elissa Schappeli, BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS

by Patti Abbott

This is the first in a collection of linked stories. A high school girl with a reputation hangs on ferociously to the boy who claims to love her. As she endows him with confidence, it is clear he will use this to move away from her. This story did a great job of showing how fragile a reputation is at that age-how overnight things can change.

“The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu

by kattomic

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu


Story 151/366

E. Lily Yu, Princeton, class of 2012, is already a major writer.  If you haven’t heard of her yet, you will. The conceit of the “cartographer wasps” is fantastic, in both senses of the word. (Yu’s bio notes that she keeps bees.) This story was a  2011 Nebula Award Nominee for Best Short Story, 2012 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Short Story, 2012 Locus Award Finalist for Best Short Story. You can read the story here. Here’s a link to some of her other fiction and poetry.

See you tomorrow!

“The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: the Dead City: Prologue” by Jack Scalzi

by kattomic

“The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by Jack Scalzi


Story 150/366

This is a hilarious “mock prologue” to a series of actual books that was written as an April Fool’s joke.  The tone is over-the-top heroic fantasy in a way that is both affectionate and smart. Scalzi knows his tropes. The story has been nominated for a Hugo. (Ken Liu’s wonderful “Paper Menagerie” is also in the running. All of the nominees are on line. Scalzi has posted links to all the nominees on his blog.)  Find Scalzi’s story on the Tor.com site  here.

See you tomorrow!

“Mr. Bearstowe Says…” by Anthony Berkeley

by Arun

Theme: Crippen & Landru Series

Source: The Avenging Chance and Other Mysteries

Story Number: 116

Roger Sheringham notices and approaches a woman who is as bored as himself in a beer-and-sausage party that he has ended up in. The woman just can’t stop talking about a Mr. Bearstowe. Roger believes that Bearstowe must either be her husband or a lover. He notices a few lone men and decides to guess who among them could be Bearstowe. When he asks her whether her husband is tall or short, he gets a strange answer from her saying that she doesn’t know.

A few months later, when Sheringham is waiting for his friend in the police station, the Superintendent asks Sheringham to tag along to interview a woman who has come to report her husband missing – whose body, the police already have in their possession. Sheringham doesn’t want to have anything to do with it and decides to skip away without being noticed but his interest is piqued when he identifies the woman as the same one whom he had met in a party and who couldn’t stop talking about a certain Bearstowe.

The woman who introduces herself as Mrs. Hutton tells a story about how she was supposed to have met her husband for lunch on the beach, how all his clothes were still on the beach but yet there was no sign of her husband. When the policeman asks her to give a description of her husband, pat comes a detailed description which even includes his chest measurements! When Sheringham mentions Bearstowe, she faints. When she is taken to the mortuary, she identifies the dead body as her husband Eddie without even opening her eyes!

The police investigation reveals that Mrs. Hutton was noticed with a clean shaven man near the beach, who ultimately is identified as Bearstowe. The police also have proof that Mrs. Hutton couldn’t have murdered her husband and all the evidence points to the absconding Bearstowe as being the murderer. Sheringham’s investigation on the other hand piles up the evidence that it was indeed a premeditated murder though he also clears Mrs. Hutton of any complicity. Just as in so many of his novels, the story ends with a final twist – a twist which is sprung as late as the final word of the story!

Soliatry Confinement, Sandra Seamans, COLD RIFTS

by Patti Abbott

A man handed a death sentence is a man who’s handed out his share of the same. He holes up in a childhood sanctuary waiting his end. How it comes is surprising and just. A great first story from Sandra’s collection


Mapping the Territory by Jane Hammons

by sandraseamans

This story takes you on the journey of a woman seaching for who she is in a most unorthodox way.  The writing is sheer poetry.


Lookout Mountain, John Floyd, MYSTERICALE

by Patti Abbott

A female sheriff with a junk food addiction also gets grief from her mother. On the other hand, a good lookout is worth something. This is a well-executed story of the type found in EQMM and AHMM.

“Different Kinds of Darkness” by David Langford

by kattomic

“Different Kinds of Darkness” by David Langford


Story 149/366

Remember the old Apple slogan “think different?” The kids in this story “see different.” This story won the Hugo for best short story in 2001 and wasoriginally printed in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can find it online at Orbit Books’ Lightspeed Magazine site.


See you tomorrow!

The Mystery of The Horne’s Copse by Anthony Berkeley

by Arun

Theme: Crippen & Landru Series

Source: The Avenging Chance and Other Mysteries

Story Number: 115

Anthony Berkeley, The Master of the Final Twist is most famous for his novel The Poisoned Chocolates Case. This collection starts off with the story “The Avenging Chance” – which is a shorter version of his most popular novel. The next best story which shows all the trademarks of his ingenuity is the strange phenomenon of the Horne’s Copse.

The story is told from the point of view of Hugh Chappell, the rich heir to the Ravendean family. After a party in his neighbor’s house, he decides to walk back to his house via the patch known as Horne’s Copse instead of getting the flat tire fixed. In the dark, he stumbles across a body with a bullet hole in the head – he strikes a series of matches to identify the body – which turns out to be that of his cousin Frank, who is supposed to be vacationing in Europe. He continues to his home and calls the police but the police fail to find neither a dead body nor any other sign like the burnt matches. A month down the line, he again comes across the dead body of his cousin Frank in exactly the same position but this time he has been stabbed with a knife. He makes sure that it is indeed his cousin by identifying a mole near the neck. Further to make sure that he is very much dead, he lights the matches and holds it near the open staring eyes and notices that there’s no flicker, the hands are ice cold, there’s no pulse and no heartbeat. He runs down to his house, calls the police and runs back to the spot where he saw the dead body to await the police. But to his dismay, the body seems to have vanished again!

He sends a mail to his cousin who is still in Europe and gets a reply back from him. When everybody starts thinking that there’s something wrong with his mind, he stumbles on the dead body for a third time! This time, he just leaves the countryside and goes into hiding in London.  A few days later when he ventures out to visit a shop, he reads about the news of his cousin’s murder. And he realizes that the police are on the hunt for him as he is their chief suspect! Luckily for him, he bumps into none other than Roger Sheringham, who decides to hide Hugh in his house till he solves the puzzling events of the Horne’s Copse and provides a most satisfying explanation to all the strange things witnessed by the narrator.

A Little Bird Told Me by Adele Polomski

by Barb Goffman


From Crime Scene: New Jersey 3 (Clued In Press 2010)

A man is killed at a birder’s tournament. Police investigate and find several suspects. They ultimately find the killer because of a couple mistakes in his alibi. It’s the little details that always get you.

(I didn’t  buy one of these details, but the other one worked well.)