Recommended: “What’s Done Can’t Be Undone” by Reneé Bibby and “CARBORUNDORUM > /DEV/NULL” by Annalee Flower Horne

How does the writer of genre fiction approach difficult subject matter like sexual assault? Two excellent and potentially triggering recent short stories by two fearless writers suggest two effective approaches.

Screenshot of Five on the Fifth website and January 2019 issue with bare tree against the sky
January 2019 issue of Five on the Fifth

What’s Done Can’t Be Undone” by Tucson writer Reneé Bibby in the January 2019 issue of Five on the Fifth weaves ugly revelations with witches and precognition to explore rage and generational cycles of violence. It’s timely Shakespearian horror set in the present. The protagonist’s rage and attitude paired with dark humor grabs hold from the opening words to drag the reader through the story and content at breakneck speed.

Artwork from short story Carborundorum greater than symbol /dev/null in Fireside Magazine
Artwork for “Carborundorum > /dev/null” in Fireside Magazine

CARBORUNDORUM > /DEV/NULL” by Annalee Flower Horne in Fireside Magazine reminds us that emerging technologies for concerned parents will likely still lead to new opportunities for old violences in the future. It’s hopeful, heartbreaking, and enraging. The technology is brilliantly shown through scenic action and character development instead of exposition, leading into a tense situation in which the protagonist must race against time to save her best friend.

Photo of Fireside Quarterly July 2018 issue with cover artwork of a character covered with moths from A Taxonomy of Hurts by Kate Dollarhyde

P.S. If I hadn’t already returned to physical books because of poetry, Fireside Quarterly, the new physical artifact available for subscription from Fireside Magazine, would have convinced me immediately. I’m in awe of this publication’s design and artistry.