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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Flash Fiction Online #41, February 2017

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Flash Fiction Online #41, February 2017

"Product Recall" by Robert Bagnall

"Marking the Witch" by Lina Rather
"I Don't Want to Hurt You Either" by Ryan Row

Reviewed by Jason McGregor

The February issue of Flash Fiction Online is all about February 14th. The three original stories (one SF and two nominally fantasy) are completely different within that context except for taking a dim view of the subject. The degree of darkness varies, from the dusky hues of the first two to the pitch black of the last.

"Product Recall" by Robert Bagnall

In a future internet of things, a somewhat-AI display-model fridge-freezer, part of which used to be a quiz machine, laments its unrequited love for the floor polisher. Interwoven with those lamentations are alert after alert about expiring food.

The last line is cute enough but it felt like a very long 997 words to get there.

"Marking the Witch" by Lina Rather

A woman whose family has a history with witches has a summer romance with one and the narrator describes what it means and makes it all a metaphor.

Her grandmother's contact with a witch resulted in her having to speak in metaphors, yet it's the narrator who says:

They met on a Tuesday. The moon was a fingernail clipping in the sky. Mercury hung beside it. It was a good time for bad decisions.

Some might complain that this is actually too understandable but I liked that and liked this well-written short piece which maintains interest through its unique conceptual connections and way with words, both of which capture the experience well.

"I Don't Want to Hurt You Either" by Ryan Row

A telepath enters a flower shop and has a conversation with the proprietor who actually has impropriety on his mind. Any more would be spoiling.

This is billed as a fantasy but is actually more of a horror piece at least twice over and it's certainly a creative interpretation of a Valentine's Day tale twice over, as well. I can't say I "like" this one, but that's partly by authorial design, I think. It's well done and certainly remarkable but very dark.


More of Jason McGregor's reviews can be found on his Featured Futures blog.