Shorts of the Week: Life, Death & Strange Smells

The shorts of the week include a woman surrounded by birds, a look at death through the eyes of an immortal woman, the terrifying realm of olfactory virtual reality, and a heartbreaking portrayal of a father’s grief. Check out all of the reviews below!

A Sharp Breath of Birds

Written by Tina Connolly
Uncanny Magazine
March/April 2019

A Sharp Breath of Birds is a beautiful piece of short fiction to imagine, filled with vivid imagery and colors. We see two women whose lives are lived side by side, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Our protagonist’s life is filled with birds, flying around inside her home, waddling across her bedroom, making their way into her major life events. These appear to be birds only she can see, though her lifelong friend, Alice, can see them as well near the end of the story. 

The Lady Who Would Not Die

Written by George Nikolopoulos
Galaxy’s Edge
March 2019

The Lady Who Would Not Die is the sad tale of a woman lost to time who becomes a Grim Reaper of sorts. The story provides an interesting look at immortality and the cost it brings. Hers is a life spent ushering the nearly dead on to the afterlife and, while she does have a lover for many centuries, she continues to feel her lost and alone in the limbo between life and death. It becomes an eternity of remembering the tragedy that brought her to this position and the hope that it will eventually end and she’ll be able to move on from the world. 

All the Smells in the World

Written by Julie Novakova
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
January/February 2019

All the Smells in the World is a fascinating and unsettling portrayal of a virtual reality enhancement gone wrong. The author takes an employee of a tech startup and puts them in the middle of an attempt to insert smell into virtual reality. It’s a concept frequently discussed but seemingly impossible to master. The company creates a clunky prototype that eventually becomes a more advanced method of brain enhancement. The results are unintended and surprising, to say the least. 

Where Gods Dance

Written by Ben Serna-Grey
Apex Magazine
March 2019

Where Gods Dance paints the tragic picture of a father forever mourning the loss of his son as he attempts to recreate him using various pieces of his childhood. You can feel the sorrow buried in every word as the man desperately tries to hold on to the memories of his son. These created versions are monstrous and ethereal, never mirroring what the father wants to see. It’s a heartbreaking depiction of grief slowly overcoming a man until he no longer wishes to be a part of a world without his son.

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Author: Jacob Olson

Writing about science fiction and fantasy at! I write reviews on novels, short stories, television, movies, etc. and throw in a few articles and thoughts as well.