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A lot has been going on in my life recently, so I decided to take a step back and read from F&SF again. It’s been a while since I reviewed stories from them, but I found a few neat stories from that magazine. Not one, but two flash fiction works. So I figured it’s time for a double feature!
Todays short stories come from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. The first is The Million-Mile Sniper by SL Huang, and the second if Red Sword of the Celiac by John Possidente. You can buy the issue here. These are two short, but great tales, so let’s take a look.
The Million-Mile Sniper by SL Huang
The story tells the tale of The Million-Mile Sniper, a legendary person, whose identity and gender remain unknown, who gains infamy for an assassination plot against a powerful senator who claim they did it for the good of the world, as part of a revolutionary group called “The Farseers.” However, we come to learn the many doubts on this mysterious individual and who e really is.
The more you read between the lines of this story, the more you realize how absurd it gets. This is a far future story, meaning this happened potentially hundreds of years into the future. The stuff we’re doing now, the stories we tell, it’s unlikely anyone hundreds or even thousands of years from now will understand and possibly confuse general internet nonsense with actual people.
The story even suggests that this individual pulled all of this off at a computer screen with a keyboard. Maybe he was some futuristic hacker who managed to make a bullet appear out of thin air? Or, considering the doubts historians make, my guess would be he was some FPS player who got a sick kill on someone named O’Lin and bragged to everyone about it, thus becoming an urban legend on Reddit or something.
It makes you wonder who exactly e is and what this supposed sniper was known for. Yet knowing this guy could be some nerd playing Fortnite or whatever the big craze is these days is humorous to say the least. And it would very much seem like a possibility to some alien society across the cosmos.
Perhaps some things we know now were just baseless assumptions despite cementing them as fact. I can’t name anything off the top of my head, but it is a possibility that perhaps in the future, the people beyond would claim that Swaggmasta420 from the ancient clan of “Sir, this is a Wendy’s,” could truly be one for the history books in the year 3480.
But that’s assuming we live long enough for that to happen.
Red Sword of the Celiac by John Possidente
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is another cliched fantasy title, but it’s actually one of the more meta stories I’ve read. There’s no magic, no fantastical elements at all. What this story actually is is a narration of a reviewer for a publishing company reviewing the final installment for an unfinished trilogy (imagine if Brandon Sanderson never finished Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series).
But we do get a story in here about humans fighting off a man-eating alien who actually has more sympathy than the heroes themselves. Also, it’s a science fiction story, in case you hadn’t realized it by now. The entire trilogy can be summed up as “alien invades, eats everyone, and is now lonely because it ate its entire food source and is having an existential crisis. The end.”
It’s as bare bones as it gets, but that’s what makes it so funny. According to the story, this in-universe trilogy came out around the 1960s. A time where Asimov and Phillip K. Dick ruled the sci-fi scene. I should mention also that the fictional author, P. Warden Accipit, is supposedly a really obscure author, who maybe only ten people in the whole world have heard of, yet this magazine, who the editor in chief is a huge fan of, wanted a guy who had never heard of the trilogy, much less finished it to review the entire thing..
It’s a hilarious and almost self-deprecating take on the entire sci-fi genre and its numerous cliches and common tropes, reviewing an author whose works are out of print and decades later, the publisher decides to release the unfinished manuscript of the final book to…whoever, I guess.
These two flash stories are entertaining in their own right and make for a nice read. While neither of them are groundbreaking in the slightest, I enjoyed both of these stories that give off this absurd humor while still entertaining. They’re short and less than 2k words, but do give these a quick read. You won’t be disappointed.
That’s all for today.