“The Venus Effect,” by Joseph Allen Hill.
Novelette. Published in Lightspeed, December 2016.
I’ve chosen this story based on Abigail Nussbaum’s strong recommendation:
It’s not an exaggeration to say that stories like this one are why I keep doing this, rooting through hundreds of short stories on the off chance of happening on one, by an author I’ve never heard of, that completely blows me away. I don’t want to say too much about “The Venus Effect”‘s plot, both because it’s a surprise worth preserving, and because to describe the story is to make it sound like so much less than what it is–too academic, too gimmicky, too preachy. This is a story about stories, and about who gets to be the hero in the core stories of our genre. It shouldn’t work–the tack Hill chooses should come off as glib, and the structure he comes up with should devolve into repetition–and yet, amazingly, it does. If there’s one story on this list that I’d like you to read, “The Venus Effect” is it.
If Nussbaum wants us to read it, then read it we shall!
What did you think? Read the story, and join the discussion in the comments!