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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories’
First Quarterly Review, 2021

Year 19 of Bewildering Stories

The Editors’ Choices in issues 885-895


by Richard Ong

The Quarterly and Annual Reviews and Bewildering Stories itself
are like lighthouses on the chaotic sea of the Internet.
They signal not danger but “Good landfall” and “Safe harbor.”
Welcome ashore!

Everything in green is a link. A few links are standard (blue, underlined). The genres in the “Titles selected” table are anchor or alert links. Links to pages other than the QR open in a new window; you won‘t lose your place.

Bewildering Stories ends the season — winter or summer, according to your hemisphere — with the Review Editors’ selection of favorites from the first quarter of 2021. New readers will have easy access to the recent best of Bewildering Stories, and veteran readers will have a chance to catch up on anything they may have missed.

The Quarterly Reviews are not a contest or competition; they are a special poll. And there are no quotas: anything — from everything to nothing — may qualify in any genre. They answer a practical question: “If a friend asked you to recommend something outstanding from the past quarter of Bewildering Stories, what are your favorites? What would you choose?”

As always, the Review Board’s discussions have been extensive and lively. A big Thank You to Edward Ahern, Bill Bowler, Gary Clifton, Charles C. Cole, Jeffrey Greene, Andrew L. Hodges, Gary Inbinder, Bill Kowaleski, John Stocks and Lewayne L. White.

At Bewildering Stories, nothing is the proverbial tree falling unheard in a forest. All contributors know that real people have given their works a thoughtful reading, whether we send regrets or they qualify for the Mariner Awards at year’s end.

The Review Editors and Associate Editors — our review readers — have functions that are entirely different but equally important. The Review Editors determine how Bewildering Stories shall carry its flag; the Associate Editors determine what Bewildering Stories shall be. Their insightful and detailed critiques of submissions help us set what we like to think is an Internet standard for editorial practice and for service to our contributors and readers.

Our special editors also deserve a vote of thanks: Coordinating Editors Edward Ahern, Heather J. Frederick, and Bill Kowaleski; Flash Fiction and Drama Editor Charles C. Cole; Poetry Editor John Stocks. They provide the kind of personal touch Bewildering Stories takes pride in, and they make the administrative work not only easier but possible.

The Quarterly News

We think our Review Editors reflect the range of opinion to be found among our readers. In the past 12 weeks, the Review Editors cast 716 votes on 76 titles, 29 of which have qualified as Editors’ Choices. We congratulate the authors and hope they will inspire all our contributors.

The Departments have a memoir as well as a selection of Challenges.
The Order of the Hot Potato is quite warm, with 11 titles.
The Order of Merit is a special acknowledgment to our contributors. It’s a kind of “surprise package” that links to the most highly rated works in this Quarterly Review.

Looking ahead: We resume regular publication with issue 896 on March 29, 2021. The next few weeks will include catching up with e-mail, a procedure that has been regrettably but unavoidably delayed. The on-line schedule now constitutes mostly a list of titles. The number of long works pending and in progress will affect all genres substantially in the coming weeks.

Titles selected of titles eligible

0 of 1
1 of 2
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
9 of 29
8 of 15
Short Poetry
6 of 8
4 of 20
1 of 1

• Serialized works are eligible only in the quarter in which they conclude.
• All selections are listed in alphabetical order by author unless noted otherwise.
• Multiple titles and the Departments are listed in chronological order.


Gary Clifton, Murder Me Sweetly

Short Stories

Jacob Austin, Scrabble Goes to the Vet
David Barber, Erckmann & Chatrian, The Mysterious Sketch
A. M. Johnson, A New Normal
Emer Mahoney, The Touch
Sasha A. Palmer, Canis Familiaris
Henry A. Paper, In Another Country
Janet Sever, Side Gig

Flash Fiction

Charles C. Cole, Jeffrey Greene,


Lana Bella, A Dead Man Who No Longer Cries
Gary Inbinder, Iceberg Alert
LindaAnn LoSchiavo, The Quietus
Sasha A. Palmer, Medusa
Nick Pipitone, Cheap Carnival
James R. Rudolph, A Clap Back at Old Age

Short Poetry

Edward Ahern, Covid Largesse
Michael R. Burch, Unlikely Mike
Oonah V. Joslin, Transformations
James R. Rudolph, When the Music Stops


Valeriya Salt, Kutna Hora’s Ossuary Gallery


Books and Other Reviews


Sowers and Soil
Living Assistance
But Not Too Nice a Day
The Depths of Plumbing
Discerning Intent
Check All Boxes
Lights Up


Douglas Young, Reflections on Retirement

The Order of the Hot Potato

Here are the most controversial works of the quarter, the ones on which the Review Editors’ opinions diverged significantly for one or more reasons. The titles are listed in descending order with the most controversial first. Five of the titles appear among the Editors’ Choices. Challenge to the readers: why might any of these titles be on the list? Discussions are welcome and may appear in a future regular issue.

  1. John W. Steele, The Force Within
  2. João Ventura, The Umbrella Farm
  3. James R. Rudolph, A Clap Back at Old Age
  4. Janet Sever, Side Gig
  5. Lana Bella, A Dead Man Who No Longer Cries
  6. Jacob Austin, Scrabble Goes to the Vet
  7. Ann Christine Tabaka, Life Melting
  8. Oonah V. Joslin, Transformations
  9. C. M. Barnes, Shadow Hour
  10. Robert Wenson, The Way the Cat Pounces
  11. Silvia E. Hines, Sibling

The Order of Merit

Here are links to the most highly rated works in each genre represented by more than one title in this Quarterly Review. The categories are listed according to their normal order in the Index and Readers’ Guide.

In keeping with Bewildering Stories’ astronomical motif, the winners are indicated by the names of space telescopes. Multiple listings are ties. The most highly rated title in the quarter is designated by the name of an arm of the Galaxy.

Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Short Poetry

The Sagittarius Arm

Return to Quarterly News

Featured at Bewildering Press

Bewildering Press
Jack Alcott, Grim Legion
Sam Ivey, Gilboy’s Quest
Martin Kerharo, The Dohani War
Harry Lang, The Mountains of the Eldritch Sea
Danielle L. Parker, In a Pig’s Eye
Slawomir Rapala, Aezubah, the Crimson General
Bertrand Cayzac, Floozman in Space
Michael E. Lloyd, Donna’s Men
Michael E. Lloyd, Missing Emilie
Michael E. Lloyd, Observation One
Michael E. Lloyd, Observation Two
Michael E. Lloyd, Observation Three
Bewildering Press

Grim Legion   Gilboy's Quest   The Dohani War   Mountains of the Eldritch Sea

Donna's Men Missing Emilie   Observation One   Observation Two   Observation Three

In a Pig's Eye   The Crimson General   Floozman in Space   Floozman dans l'espace

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