I've been reading a lot lately.
Stories for the magazine, of course. And I've stolen a few guilty hours here and there recently to read the third Harry Potter book; better than the first two, but still kinda formulaic. Looking forward to the fourth when it comes out in paperback; I'm told it's a big step up in literary quality.
And in spare moments, before going to sleep and after waking up, I've switched temporarily from Sturgeon to From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown, another one of those NESFA complete-works compendia. I'll write a more detailed review of that when I'm finished.
Brown was a master—perhaps the master—of the sf short-short story, all through his writing career, from 1941 through 1965. But he wasn't the last good short-short writer; the form still has some life in it. Michael Swanwick had planned to write a weekly series of short-shorts, one corresponding to each element in the Periodic Table, for Eileen Gunn's The Infinite Matrix; when that magazine sadly folded, Swanwick sold the series to Sci Fiction. He's 20 weeks into this "Periodic Table of Science Fiction," having just published "Calcium." My favorites so far:
- Magnesium: "Under's Game," a cute send-up of Ender's Game
- Sodium: "Electric Pickles," a commentary on art
- Phosphor: "Blockade Runners," a nicely evocative tale from the Ocean of Dreams
I have mixed reactions to some of the other fiction at Sci Fiction. (Of course, I have mixed reactions to almost all fiction.) I'm finding that I particularly like James P. Blaylock's work; his latest there, "Small Houses," is a very nice, and sad, barely-fantasy piece. Well worth reading.