This month’s New Writing on the Net comes to us from former reader Areej Mehdi. Areej has highlighted some of the previous month’s most interesting speculative fiction written by women, published across the net at Tor, LightSpeed, The Dark Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Look no further for your weekend reading.
“Blood is Another Word for Hunger” by Rivers Solomon | Tor, July 24, 2019
Before, Sully thought it was her lack of want for anything that made her feel so shapeless and void, but her relief at seeing Ziza upon her rebirth upended that notion. She wasn’t numb for lack of want but for wanting too much. She was ravenous for the whole world. The sky and the oceans and the creatures in those oceans and the cities and heartbeats and Ziza and Miles and Bethie and Liza Jane and Nathaniel and the mountains and brass and harps and pianos and wildflowers and glaciers and brothers and sisters and cousins and picnics and the sun and telescopes and a treehouse and sausage and winter and the height of summer, when the air was so thick it stuck to your skin like pecan brittle in your back teeth.
Even as she imagined possessing all these things, she wanted yet more. It was strange, she thought, how limitless a void inside of a person could be. It was strange that a person could be killed, but not anything that that person had done.
“One Thousand Beetles in a Jumpsuit” by Dominica Phetteplace | LightSpeed, August 8, 2019
Isla was sorry her parents had fallen for this. Time wasn’t going to be rewound. There was no going back to a prelapsarian state, but things could be mitigated. Forests could be replanted, factories could pollute less. Mars could turn green, maybe the moon too. It was so childlike to wish things were different than they were. The grownup thing to do was to take stock of the trouble you were in and walk the best path out. That’s what her parents had taught her before they had forgotten it themselves.
“The Dead Kings” by Teresa P. Mira De Echeverría | The Dark Magazine, July 2019
When I was six years old, I began to pray to the god of the ash tree that stood at the edge of our farm, and to the god of the cross that hung on the walls, and to the god of the stars that cover everything. I was too young to protect my parents. But it was obvious that they were as helpless as I was.
By the grace of some power I do not understand, perhaps the spirits of friends who had gone to the other side and returned as protective angels, we endured many years of famine, fear, pain, and gnashing of teeth. We came through unharmed. My one solace were the few hidden books that we had kept and that taught me there were other kingdoms, other skies, roses that bloomed alive and even without thorns.
“On the Impurity of Dragon-kind” by Marie Brennan | Uncanny Magazine, August 6, 2019
I won’t be here next week, Magister Broughton—nor any week after that—so let me close by addressing a few of the things you’re probably going to say then. I imagine you’ll talk about impurity and how good things can become polluted, like a person can become polluted by touching the carcass of an unclean animal—the way my mother has done many times in the course of her research. But the Book of Priests says that uncleanness only lasts until evening. It doesn’t taint a person forever, even if she’s from a priestly line, much less threaten to taint her son if he doesn’t repudiate her and all her work.
“Someday We’ll Embrace this Distance” by Niyah Morris | Strange Horizons, August 12, 2019
“I’m sure you want to know what I’m doing here,” you said.
I nodded. It wasn’t that I was afraid. We’d had a meal together, after all. And if I thought about it, you weren’t a complete stranger. We’d met in the supermarket. You’d called me by my name.
“It’s a bit of an odd story,” you said. “A long one, too.”
“That’s fine,” I replied. “Start from the beginning.”
“That’s the thing.” You took a sip of water and set the glass down again. “It’s hard to tell where the beginning is. There isn’t one beginning. So I don’t know where to start.”
“That August Song” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew | Beneath Ceaseless Skies, August 1, 2019
She opens her robe, bares her secondary mouths, and gulps in air. In so confined a space, her diaphragm will not be able to expand to its fullest, but any melodist worth their training can sing under worse limitations. Not that she has any idea. She knows hymns and canticles; she knows dirges and paeans. She does not know how to sing at behemoths. But she begins to harmonize to it, to the behemoth refrain. When its cadence shifts, so does hers. When it rises and falls, she follows in precise parallel.
Curated by Areej Mehdi