Short Fiction Tuesday

"The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling" by Elizabeth Carroll stands out this week. I wasn't sure, when I read the opening, that I would like it as much as I did, though rereading it, it's hard to capture why I had that sense. It's the story of Viola, a homunculus created by the court alchemist to be the duke's secret assassin. She's very self-aware, which leads to a thread of the question of whether something made can be human--not a hit-you-over-the-head theme or anything, just a nice teasing subtext to pull you along. And then there's the excitement of her work, her vulnerability to cats and rats, and the various intrigues of the court. It's a fun story with a satisfying ending.

I haven't had a chance to finish it yet, but a writer friend of mine strongly recommended Kij Johnson's "The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change." It's a few years old, and received a good deal of recognition at the time, but the recommendation was quite forceful, so I quickly added it to my tabs and decided to pass the recommendation along here as well. Any one else come across any stand-out stories lately?