short story

A collection of 16 SF&F stories centering on derelict ships, either in space or at sea.


Publication year: 2021

Publisher: Zombies Need Brains

Format: ebook

Page count from GoodReads: 312

Most of the stories are SF and many have horror elements. Two stories have AI point-of-view characters. One is historical fantasy and two are set in fantasy worlds.

“Symbiote” by Kristine Smith: Shelly Conn’s luck has been bad for the last few weeks. When she and her crew go onboard an old laboratory spaceship, she’s hoping to get good salvage out of it. She gets far more than she bargained for.

“The Wreck of the Sarah Mohr” by D.B. Jackson: Set in 1767, this is a historical fantasy story. Ethan Kaille is a conjurer; he finds stolen or missing goods through magic. A merchant asks him to dispel the ghosts that are haunting his ship. Ethan finds a grimmer secret in the wreck.

“The Tempest in Space” by Griffin Ayaz Tyree: Faizal has finally found his sister among the stars and he’s trying help her.

“Playing Possum” by Andrija Popovic: Darryll is a salvager. He and his trained, wired possum find a derelict ship. He sends his possum in to see if it has anything good. But it isn’t abandoned.

“Standing Orders” by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: The war is over and the humans won. However, in order to win, the human High Command had to build artificial intelligences to fight for them. The humans promised that after the war, the AIs would have a place in human society. The humans lied.

“Time, Yet” by Gerald Brandt: Senn Jal is a happy man: his lovely wife is pregnant with their first child. While that means more work for him at the farm, he couldn’t be happier. But then something falls from the sky and his world is shattered.

“Flight Plans Through the Dust of Dreams” by Kit Harding: Twenty years ago Rosie was a terrorist and her airship was shot down. Now, she’s trying to fix her old derelict ship. If only the curious and rebellious teenager doesn’t find out who Rosie really is…

“Saving Sallie Ruth” by Gini Koch writing as Anita Ensal: Sallie Ruth is a ghost spaceship, rumored to destroy all ships that encounter it. Now, Space Police’s prison ship sees the remains of an envoy and behind it the Sallie Ruth. The police have the duty to rescue anyone who might be inside.

“Methuselah” by Jacey Bedford: Renny is the captain of a small spaceship Staten Island. He and his crew need money badly. When they come across a derelict ship, they first think they have a great salvage in their hands.

“Celestial Object 143205” by Mark D. Jacobsen: After decades of serving in the US Space Force, Cooper commands his own ship. However, because of various construction delays, that ship won’t leave Earth’s orbit until after Cooper’s command is over. He’s more than a little resentful. But suddenly he has a chance for a deep-space rescue mission, with a barely-finished ship and just one crew member. Of course, Cooper agrees to it. But is he prepared for the isolation of long-time space travel?

“Mercy for the Lost” by Jana Paniccia: young Monkey is a captive crew member of the pirate ship the Outcast. When they find a derelict mage ship, Monkey almost hopes she will die with it. Instead, she gets a chance.

“When the Star Fell and the Levee Broke” by Alex Bledsoe: A big storm washes away Travis’ levee. A strange metal object is left in the mud. At first, Travis thinks it’s a satellite. But it’s far stranger.

“Derelict of Duty” by Chaz Brenchley: The point-of-view character of this story is an AI who was constructed as a weapon in a war. But they have escaped and are now on the run. When they hear about an old vessel, possibly an alien vessel, they can’t resist but investigate.

“Two Ruins Make a Beginning” by R.Z. Held: Alexandrine is a ghost, bound to a murderous ruin spirit. Alexandrine’s purpose is to prevent the spirit from hurting anyone. When Alexandrine and the spirit go to a beach, they see the wreck of a ship. The ship has also a ruin spirit which is holding four people hostage. Can Alexandrine help them without losing her soothing connection to ”her” spirit?

“Orpheus” by Jack Campbell: The Daedalus is the second crewed mission to Saturn. One of their tasks is to find the three crew members who were left behind during the first mission. The bodies, if there are any, are Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. However, their lander malfunctions so they must use the previous mission’s lander, the Orpheus, to set down on Titan and see if there’s anything left of the three astronauts.

“Decay in Five Stages” by Julie E. Czerneda: A prequel story to her In the Company of others. Aaron Raner is an old engineer working on Thromberg station. When the humans realize that the seemingly innocuous alien Quill brings contamination, Aaron’s spacefaring friends are some of the first victims. Aaron is left with their baby and he needs to get the baby out of the station.

This is an enjoyable collection, even if many of the stories have horror elements and some are otherwise depressing. It was very interesting to see just how many different kinds of stories the writers got from salvage operations on derelict spaceships.

A collection of short stories all centering on getting justice. A word of warning: many of these stories have domestic abuse, child abuse, and other crimes to which our society often turns a blind eye to.


Publication year: 2018

Publisher: WMG Publishing

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 288

“The Ball Breaker’s Summer Club” by Valerie Brook: Felicia and Ruby want to be private detectives when they grow up. So they start a justice club, going around town and seeing what they can do to help. Then they witness a real crime.

“Grace” by Michael Kowal: Set during the US prohibition. John Devin is a PI, yet he’s smuggling three young girls to Mexico. And a man who deserves to die.

“Pariah” by Louisa Swann: Rosa May has done what she must to survive and so she’s not a welcome person in the small town of Bohie. But when her only friend is killed and she knows there won’t be justice, she must act.

“Spoils” by Eric Kent Edstrom: Vince in a suspended cop. When his brother Shawn sends him a mysterious text, the first communication after eight years, Vince has no choice but to meet him. Shawn is shot before Vince’s eyes and Vince must find out why.

“The Night Takes You” by Leslie Claire Walker: The main character was the victim of horrific abuse in the foster care system. Now, he decides to get evidence to bring his tormentor to justice.

“My Honor to Kill You” by Dan C. Duval: The main character’s father sends him to kill his sister. The sister has disobeyed their very religious father and left their home in Afghanistan. Now she lives in America.

“A Pearl into Darkness” by Lisa Silverthorne: Set in a little Yazidi village in 2014 when the jihadists started to slaughter the villagers. The main character survives, but her little sister was captured and the rest of her family killed. She’s determined to get her sister back.

“Mercy Find Me” by Diana Deverell: Winnie Yates has been in prison for twenty years, for a crime that her cellmate suffered only for four years. Now, there is a chance that she can finally go free. If she can say the right things.

“Best Served…Salted” by Lauryn Christopher: It’s 1964 and Jessie is the first in her family to go to a university. In Colombus, she lives in a boarding house that is divided between the young men and the young women. But when the boarding housekeeper must cut expenses and let the maid go, the youngsters must do their own share of the chores. Except that soon the women realize that they’ve been duped into doing the men’s chores, as well. Of course, the women want justice.

“Domus Justice” by Michèle Laframboise: Aemilia is a house slave in Faustus Livius Tullius’ house. When two golden armbands are stolen and evidence points to Aemilia, she must use her knowledge of the household to prove herself innocent.

“Uncle Philbert” by Dory Crowe: Pat’s mom lives with old, crabby uncle Philbert and also cares for him as a hospice nurse. When Philbert dies, Pat and her mom don’t know where they will end up.

“Bone” by T. Thorne Coyle: Bone is a young boy growing up in a poor family. One day he sees a man near a murder scene but he doesn’t have any evidence to bring against the man. But the crime doesn’t give him peace and eventually, he must do something for justice.

“A Vulture Waits” by Rob Vagle: Guillermo has finally found the man who killed his father. Or has he?

“The Supporters in Panama City” by Brigid Collins: Miranda is a devoted fan of soccer player Marcus. She’s over the moon when she hears that a rich businessman has formed a soccer team in her hometown and hired Marcus to play. But something fishy is going on…

“The Darks of Their Eyes” by Robert T. Jeschonek: Max lives in Johnstown. He’s a business analyst and has a girlfriend. Then he starts getting threatening letters. In 1923, the then-mayor of Johnstown decided to run all the black people out of the town.

The stories in this collection are mostly pretty dark and deal with crimes that aren’t easy to get justice to. Only one story is more humorous ”Best Served… Salted” and it was my favorite.

The stories are very personal, even when dealing with a horrific theme such as genocide. Many of them deal with topics that are important to bring to light, but they aren’t easy to read. A couple of them are set in the past but most have a modern-day feel. I don’t think any of them have fantasy nor science fiction elements, which is the first time in a Fiction River collection.

Sawyer’s collected short stories with the theme of time.


Publication year: 2019

Publisher: SFWRITER.COM Inc

Format: ebook

Page count from GoodReads: 218

All of the thirteen short stories were commissioned for different collections including Future War, Men Writing Science Fiction as Women, Down These Dark Spaceways, Dark Destiny III: Children of Dracula, and Star Colonies.

Some are set in the future and a couple involves time travel. Some of them deal with time differences and how society has changed during that time.

Just Like Old Times: This story was originally written for Dinosaur Fantastic. It starts when Cohen’s mind is sent to the past, inside a Tyrannosaur Rex.

Immortality: The main character returns for her 60th class reunion. A lot has changed from 1963 to 2023. The main character must confront the biggest mistake she has done in her life.

If I’m here, Imagine Where They Sent My Luggage: a 250-word story that (again) has dinosaurs and time travel.

On the Surface: A homage to H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. The Morlocks are using time machines.

Relativity: Cathy is one of the few humans who travels to another planet, to explore it. The journey takes seven years, from her perspective. But Earth, a lot more time has passed. Will she even recognize her husband and children?

Forever: Cholo is an astronomer in the Shizoo queendom. He wants to find an unknown planet so that everyone will remember his name forever. Instead, he notices a huge asteroid hurtling toward Earth.

Iterations: Erik knows that he lives in a computer simulation. That he himself is also a simulation. What really drives him crazy is the thought, the knowledge, that in other simulations versions of him are doing unspeakable things.

The Right’s Tough: This story first appears in Vision of Liberty where the world is a better place without governments. The main character lives in such a world. After being in hibernation for 250 years, a crew of the only off-solar system spaceship is returning home.

E-Mails from the Future: This story was written in 2008 for a collection that looked at business a decade down the road. Sawyer’s (imaginary) agent sends him emails. Through them, we can see how far more mercenary businesses will be.

Identity Theft: Alexander Lomax is a private detective in New Klondike, the only town on Mars. It’s small and under a dome. Most of the people who have come here are looking for fossils, but they’re rare, so very few people can get rich. Most just stay in the town hoping to find at least something or they simply don’t have the money to leave anymore. A missing husband should be easy to find, but the case turns out to be more complex than Lomax expected.

Biding Time: Set in the same setting as the previous story, this time Alex Lomax is trying to find out why someone killed an old woman who has just transferred her mind to an artificial body.

Peking Man: 130,000-year-old bones of Peking Man were discovered in 1927 near Beijing. During WWII they were supposed to be smuggled out of China and to the USA. But the remains disappeared. What really happened?

The Shoulders of Giants: 50 people have been in cryosleep for 1,200 years traveling to Tau Ceti and to the planet which is in the habitable zone. Now they’re close enough that they’re being revived so that they can finally see if the planet is habitable.

These were all entertaining reads. I like the two Marsian stories the best, but the two dinosaur stories were lots of fun, too. “Iterations” has also a fascinating idea.

The stories all have a strong central idea. Often, the main character is written in the first person and they aren’t too different from each other. The atmosphere of the stories varies a lot from a detective story to regret about things the MC has done in the past to an MC killing gleefully.

“Identity theft” was apparently expanded to a novel, “Red Planet Blues”, and I’m very curious to read it.

WMG Publishing is bringing us a Holiday Spectacular this year , too!

“Dean Wesley Smith here introducing Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the editor for this really fun yearly project. And wow, after this last year plus, we all need a bunch of fun.

Now, it is a huge understatement to say that Kris loves short fiction. There is no great secret about that, since she has written so many award-winning short stories and edited acclaimed short fiction magazines and anthologies.

Plus, I can attest firsthand that she loves holidays and anything sparkly and glittery. And just about any holiday meal and all the trappings.”

In this project, you get an original story every day from November 25th through January 1st.

I enjoyed last year’s Holiday calendar a lot and the year before that, and I’m sure this year’s short story calendar will be just as great.

It’s already funded and, as usual for WMG Publishing, the stretch goals are full of ebooks and pop-ups for writers. 9 more days to go.

Small independent press Zombies Need Brains has again a Kickstarter project to fund three new SFF short story collections: Noir, Shattering the Glass Slipper, and Brave New Worlds. It’s 70% funded and has 25 days to go.

Each collections has about fourteen stories. Half of them are by established writers and half from open submission call, if the Kickstarter is successful.

I’ve enjoyed their previous collections and these sound great, too.

The Pulphouse Fiction Magazine’s Subscription drive has about 35 hours to go.

Pulphouse Fiction Magazine is like no other magazine publishing today. It is not a genre magazine for starters. In fact, most of the stories tend to split genres or play with a genre like it is small rodent in the paws of a very large tom cat.”

It has funded and seven stretch goals have already been met, so backers will get five short story collections and issue zero, in addition to the pledge. Writers will get four new Pop-Up classes.

Another fun Kickstarter project is Sherlock Holmes: New Adventures in the Realms of H.G. Wells. It’s already funded and has 28 days to go.

The two volumes of short stories “feature traditional Sherlock Holmes stories blended with one or more tales from H.G. Wells”. However, in the pledges you can get previous Holmes in Wells’ worlds books.

I wrote this one for the Dereclit collection for Zombies Need Brains. It didn’t get in but I had lots of fun with it.


The people of Nottingham live in fear of their malevolent Sheriff. Only one man gives them hope: Robin Hood.

Wintering huts compromised. Supplies gone. The winter will be harsh for Robin and his friends.

But not as harsh as the Sheriff’s killers if they get their hands on Robin.

A deadly game of cat and mouse in frost covered Sherwood. Snow betrays every step.

Robin Hood versus the Hunters is a fast-paced medieval adventure short story.

Every story in the Tales of Sherwood series stands alone. Follow the adventures of Robin Hood, his wife Marian, his best friend Little John, the Norman outlaw Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, and all the other Merry Men in Sherwood.

I’ve just finished Covers 101 course by WMG Publishing. It was excellent!

I’m redesigning all my covers and the first one was the alternate reality short story A Long Way to Morning.

The cover image is by Galyna_P through Shutterstock.

I think the cover has Modesty Blaise -type vibe which is appropriate because MB comics inspired me to write it.

A short story collection about spies of some sorts.


Publication year: 2019
Publisher: WMG Publishing
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 284

This Fiction River focuses on spies. They are set in modern or historical times, a few I think are alternate history. The only fantasy story is about mice and a cat. A couple are near future stories.

Most have a spy main character but in the other stories, the main character is close to a spy. Most are serious tales but a couple are just funny and fun.

“Spy in the Sky” by Tonya D. Price: Set in Cuba in 1960s, Roberto MacAllister is a very bright young man but he’s also the son of a traitor. His dream is to escape to the US and work with rockets. Instead, he catches the eye of a prominet Russian scientist.

“Meeting at the Rise and Shine” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Susan is very worried about what the actor-turned president Reagan is doing. Worried enough that she’s agreed to meet with a reporter, carrying secret documents with her. But is she doing the righ thing, after all?

“Highpoint” by Michael Kingswood: Jeremy analyzes satellite images, specifically nuclear sites in North Korea. One day, the images are missing.

“Through the Eyes of a Dog” by Angela Penrose: Shawn loves dogs and when a dog-loving billionare couple wants a dog trainer, he’s more than happy to apply for the job. But he has another motive, too.

“Cat and Mice” by Jamie McNabb: Lionel the orange cat has started to eat a mouse one a week. The mice decide to do something about him.

“Our Man in Basingstoke” by Sabrina Chase: This was a fun story about an older British man who offered his manor house to the war effort during WWII. He didn’t expect what the War Office would require him to do.

“Night Flight” by Jonathan Kort: Marcel is a Jew living in occupied France during WWII. He and his fellow Jews are trying to survive and perhaps do something better.

“End of the Line” by David H. Hendrickson: Ferguson is getting older and getting the shittier assigments. But this is a new low. He needs to go to a retirement home and talk with an old friend, an old spy, and see if he still has his wits about him. If not… well, the Unit can’t let him talk about anything really secret.

“The Florentine Exchange” by Dayle A. Dermatis: This exciting story has two women spies. Antonia is an experienced spy and she’s been ordered to train fastidious Libby. When Antonia’s ankle is twisted, Libby must take Antonia’s place at an embassy ball where she must give a thumbdrive to another spy. But on her way to the ball, Libby realizes she has two thumbdrives. Antonia is up to no good.

“The Message” by C.A. Rowland: This story is set during US Civil War. Sissie is a slave in the household of Miss Antonia. When the Union soldiers bang on their door, Miss Antonia orders Sissie to help hide letters.

“Not What You’d Expect” by Leah Cutter: The narrator in this story isn’t a spy herself. But she gets to know one, Patty, at their yoga class. When Patty needs someone to go with her to a conference to spy on her company’s competitors, it sounds like fun.

“Turkish Coffee” by Johanna Rothman: Mira was born in Virginia but she loves Jaffa. And now she works there. Her job is to discover people’s secrets. She and her parner need to find out who is trying to infiltrate reasearch nuclear reactors.

“The Path” by David Stier: Aisha and her brother Ebrahim escaped from Afghanistan to US. Their whole other family is dead. Ebrahim hates the infidels and tries to force Aisha to live in the same way as she did in Afghanistan. But Aisha wants to succeed and goes to English classes in secret.

“Trafficking Stops” by Lisa Silverthorne: Sawyer Smith because a victim of trafficking she was fourteen. She managed to escape and is now doing her very best to stop the horrible people who sell teenagers and children. But now she’s working with a partner she doesn’t know.

“The Spy Who Walked into the Cold” by Ron Collins: Set in 1969 Chicago. Carl is a former Green Beret suffering from PTSD because of Vietnam war. Now, he’s a rookie FBI agent and working with a man who is spying on the Black Panthers. That makes him very uneasy.

This was the most down-to-earth Fiction River volume I’ve read so far. I love spy stories and these are very good ones. There’s also a lot of variety because a number of them are forced by circumstances to spy on others rather than being professional spies. Now I’d love to see a volume of fantasy and/or science fiction spies!

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have another great Kickstarter project:
Colliding Worlds volumes 1-5.

It’s five volumes of science fiction short stories from Rusch and Smith. The stories cover just about every nook and cranny of the science fiction genre. From time travel to space opera to social science fiction. From hard science to parallel worlds to alien invasion. From historical to near future to far future worlds.

100 science fiction short stories from two of the best science fiction writers of our time.

It’s already funded and reached the third stretch goal. 12 days to go.

The stretch goals have more books: Fiction River Presents: Time Travelers, Killer Advice from Rusch, Laying the Music to Rest by Smith, and Life is a dream by Smith. For writers, there are Classic Workshops in the stretch goals and two SF Workshops in the pledges.

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