Monthly Round-Up

April 2024 Round-up and Short Fiction Miscellany

Was a big book month, with the start of the Hugo Readalong, a new Bingo season, and the announcement of the SPSFC3 finalists. I haven’t read as much new short fiction as in a normal month, because I’ve been rereading Hugo finalists, but I’ve still found a few real gems. So let’s get to it!

Short Fiction

April Favorites

Let’s start with my review of this month’s Clarkesworld, which I thought was tremendous. You can read the whole review here, but Rich Larson’s “The Indomitable Captain Holli” is perhaps the best novella I’ve read from them, and Tia Tashiro followed an incredibly strong debut story with a really entertaining second in “An Intergalactic Smuggler’s Guide to Homecoming.” Eleanna Castroianni’s “The Lark Ascending” was a bit more compact but also really stood out to me.

I also reread “For However Long” by Thomas Ha and “On the Fox Roads” by Nghi Vo, both of which I’ve already talked about on the blog, but they’re still great. But this post is about miscellany, and I do have some non-rereads that were really tremendous this month:

  • Afflictions of the New Age” (2024 short story) by Katherine Ewell. It’s a story about aging and memory in a world where the problem of forgetting has been replaced by the severe disorientation of remembering too much and being unable to distinguish it. A simultaneously beautiful and unsettling piece that doesn’t lend itself to easy interpretation–at least not on the first pass–but is an excellent read regardless. Would make a great option for a reread and discussion.
  • So Much Cooking” (2015 novelette) by Naomi Kritzer. I’m almost never wowed by audio fiction, but I had some spare time in the car and listened to Kate Baker’s reading of this and was really impressed. It’s a remarkably prescient pandemic story that focuses on ordinary people–in this case a food blogger–trying to make it through an outbreak of bird flu. The balance of optimism from finding the helpers with the heaviness of people dying all around is excellent, and this one sure hits hard for readers who have now lived through a real life pandemic.
  • Spread the Word” (2024 short story) by Delilah S. Dawson. I’m usually not one for either the gore or the ambiguity of horror, but this piece builds the tension so effectively, following an 80s tween who can anticipate the spread of a strange mental contagion unleashing patriarchal violence but can’t seem to find a way to stop it.

Strong Contenders

  • Alabama Circus Punk” (2024 short story) by Thomas Ha. Having nothing to do with Alabama, circuses, or punk, this is a story about meaning-making and the horror of its loss. It took me a while to realize that the disorientation was intentional, and I wonder if a reread might even raise this story in my estimation. Very much worth a read for fans of slipstream and weird lit.
  • Katya Vasilievna and the Second Drowning of Baba Rechka” (2024 novelette) by Christine Hanolsy. A sweet, folkloric romance between a living woman and the spirit of a long-ago drowned girl.
  • Home Bread” (2024 novelette) by R.E. Dukalsky. An exploration of death through the eyes of friends and family–or perhaps antagonists and estranged family–that provides a compelling portrait of a complicated character and reflections on letting go of grudges.

Others I Enjoyed in April

  • Dragonsworn” (2023 novelette) by L. Chan. A two-timeline novelette with fascinating perspective from dragon-riders and dragon-researchers fighting a war with a variety of motivations set mostly apart from the callous leadership. Pulls the reader into a compelling story, though the first timeline ending feels a bit too sudden.
  • The Cold Inside” (2024 short story) by Vanessa Fogg. Me and horror stories, rinse, repeat. This one is less scary and more an exploration of loss and loneliness through the lens of a rural ghost story.
  • The Frost Giants of Maine” (2024 short story) Jeff Reynolds. A man buys a vacation home without having the slightest inclination what fantastical fauna he’d be dealing with. His attempts to remove the problem are increasingly unhinged, and continue to fail amusingly.
  • The Time Traveler’s Cookbook” (2023 short story) by Angela Liu. A touching exploration of grief at losing a parent, told slowly through a time traveler eating her mother’s favorite dishes.

Novels and Novellas

Reviews Posted

  • Small Gods of Calamity (2024 novel) by Sam Kyung-Yoo. Part urban fantasy detective-story, part character study of a man trying to recover and move forward after seeing his mother killed while trying to save the life of another, there’s a lot of depth here, but it can at times feel disjointed.
  • I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons (2024 novel) by Peter S. Beagle. A throwback to a classic adventure fantasy, this features an absurd set of royals, a princess with dreams beyond her station, and a not-quite-farm boy with secret abilities. A fun one, though nothing genre-defining.

Other April Reads

  • Navola (2024 novel) by Paolo Bacigalupi. A historical fantasy in an analogue of Renaissance Italy, with a slow build and plenty of backstabbing. Full review to come.
  • The Mimicking of Known Successes (2023 novella) by Malka Older. A cozy mystery with a bit of sapphic romance, in a world with technological limitations that call to mind a period piece despite the Jovian setting. Full review to come.
  • Some Desperate Glory (2023 novel) by Emily Tesh. A thrilling space opera and compelling portrait of a character breaking out of the mindset of her cultlike military upbringing. Full review to come.
  • Till We Have Faces (1956 novel) by C.S. Lewis. A deeply thematic exploration of divine hiddenness by way of an excellent character study of one of the sisters in the Cupid and Psyche myth. Full review to come.
  • The Brides of High Hill (2024 novella) by Nghi Vo. The latest entry in the Singing Hills Cycle features its traveling cleric and story-collector involved in a decidedly Gothic tale with significant Bluebeard inspiration. Full review to come.


A new year has arrived for my favorite reading challenge, and I’m planning out my 2024 Bingo board. I also posted a recap of my second 2023 card, complete with applicable 2024 categories.


In last month’s monthly round-up, I shared the list of finalists for the third annual Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. My teammates and I are still working on reading our four new finalists, so keep an eye out for reviews later this month and team scores coming in June.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *