So, in short order, here are the last batch of short stories I read in 2013:
From Subterannean Online's Fall 2013 issue:
326. Hook Agonistes by jaylake and seanan_mcguire: Two of my current favorite authors collaborating on a novella? Yes, please. I think the pacing of this was just about perfect: just as I was getting antsy about how slowly things were progressing, events started to pile up leading to the end, which contained a twist I didn't see coming but in retrospect should have. "Hook Agonistes" is the story of a human sub-colony existing as a servant class on an alien vessel. The humans were kidnapped from Earth centuries ago and their only tie to the homeworld is a Artificial Intelligence in the form of a animatronic Captain Hook. Through "Hook's" eyes, we get a look at how a closed-loop population might evolve over time, and here the world-building skills of Lake and McGuire are really on display: language morphs as decades pass, and we get a clear picture of the alien culture the humans are servants to without actually ever seeing the aliens. "Hook" also has a looming identity crisis when things take a turn he's not expecting. I recommend this one, and you can find it at the link above.
From SECOND THOUGHTS, by Steve Berman. I'm a big fan of Steve Berman's fiction, and can't believe it's taken me this long to read his second story collection from 2008. (He has a new collection, RED CAPS, coming out from Lethe Press in February of 2014).
327. Bittersweet One of the things Steve Berman excels at is taking classic fairy tales and giving them both a modern and a gay twist. In "Bittersweet" he takes the basic idea of the "Gingerbread Man" and tweaks it for a YA tale of a boy struggling with being faithful to his diabetes-injured boyfriend. Nice emotional arc.
328. Secrets of the Gwangi Remember the movie where a cowboy and a brothel madam find a hidden valley with living dinosaurs? Berman gives us an interesting back-story for the real story behind how the movie came to be written. Cowboys and dinosaurs. Can't go wrong.
329. Kiss Not one of my favorite stories in the book, if I'm being honest. Two college buddies go to pick up some drugs and one is in lust with the other.
330. Always Listen to A Good Pair of Underwear Interesting and slightly disturbing story in which the narrator takes cues about boundaries from his straight roommate's sex-starved boxers.
331. The High Cost for Tamarind In an alternate history, two gay teens, one a native Mexican and one a German diplomat's son, struggle with love and politics and a possible invasion of the US during World War Two.
332. The Price of Glamour One of my favorite stories in the collection. In an alternate London where the Fae hide in plain sight, a male faerie is tasked with collecting stolen items from other Fae so that a loan shark can control the population. A human thief interferes with the plan and things take quite the turn. Great story.
333. Tearjerker The sole story in this collection that takes place in Berman's "Fallen Area" milieu. Philadelphia has, after an undescribed event, become a world of mutated, fantastical people. In this story, a young "normal" girl who has survived on the good will of two Mutated crosses their will over a man who cannot speak, but whose words appear on his body. Really moving, great story.
334. Well Wishing Another favorite, a twist on the old trope of a male traveler needing a room at a remote farmhouse and being warned not to attempt to seduce the farmer's daughter. There's also the farmer's son, of course, and a well with some odd inhabitants.
335. Caught by Skin Another disturbing story about our obsession with appearance. In a future society, the "it" guys get plastic surgery to look just like the face of the month. One dissatisfied young man encounters someone who may or may not be "out of time" and it changes his perspective.
336. A Rotten Obligation Another favorite: a young man is guilted by his dead friend's corpse to take it "someplace warm." On the cross-country trip, the young man encounters someone he'd like to spend more time with.
337. Hidden in Central Asia In the collection's sole non-fiction piece (or so the author claims), Berman navigates the experience of being in a relationship with a woman during a graduate studies trip to Asia ... despite the fact that he's gay.
338. Kinder The lonely caretaker of a small arts-and-crafts museum experiences an infestation of "kinder" -- Germanic children with a knack for destruction. Berman really balances the supernatural elements of this one with the human emotional aspect.
339. A Troll on a Mountain with a Girl A man who has nothing to live for unsuccessfully travels the world to find a monster to kill him. None of the usual suspects work out, but eventually he ends up on a remote mountain.
340. Author's Notes Not officially a story, but the author's notes at the end of each story comprise a novella in which the author essentially reveals how these stories all gave him a "second chance" to explore his longing for a straight college roommate and how that relationship has affected his writing and his post-college life.