That One Story, Where...

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Summaries and Reviews of Short Speculative Fiction



I’ve been reading since before I was physically able to hold books, and I read dozens, if not hundreds, of short stories a year. Perhaps inevitably, many stories’ central ideas, themes, or plots stay with me a lot longer than their titles or the names of their authors.

Half-remembered favorites; stories that come up in conversation; fiction that gets optioned for the screen…several times a month, I’ll want to re-read or discuss a really cool (or terrible) short story but will blank out on the title. What follows is a mad dash for Google or a question for my SO (who’s read many of the same things I have): what’s the name of that one story, where [insert plot point, character sketch, or just vague impressions]…? I can often figure out the title and even find the story again in my library, but the entire process can take a ridiculous amount of time.

Every few weeks, someone in my social media circles posts that same question: “What’s that story, you know, where…?” I do it, too. We ask the world because it can be quite difficult to get a good answer to that question from Google or other search engines.

That One Story, Where… will summarize plots, characters, themes, and vague impressions of every short story in the Craphome library. I did a quick tally and gave up counting forever when I hit >10k short stories, with several shelves still to go.

This is going to take a while.

I’ll be starting with speculative fiction, especially horror, since that’s what I most like to read. Eventually I’ll work my way around to science fiction, noir, literary fiction, you name it. If the anthologies have poems I’ll add those too.

I’m working on one anthology at a time, moving from beginning to end in each one. Anthology series will be cataloged in order, but reading, say, twenty books in the same collection in a row would be exhausting. So I’ll be alternating each book in those series with one-off themed anthologies and/or single-author collections.

Um. This is probably a good time to talk about how I’m tagging the stories, and how I’m choosing which books to catalog. Because it is critical to recognize that authors from marginalized communities have always been working in speculative and genre fiction, I’ll be using the tags to identify authors who are POC, female, non-binary, LGBTQ, disabled, and/or otherwise marginalized. I will do my best to be thorough and accurate, but in a lot of cases I may not have that information. If I’ve overlooked or improperly categorized an author, please use my AMA page to let me know and I’ll correct the error ASAP.

As far as anthology selection goes, I’m beginning with the The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series since the answers to roughly 75% of my personal “what’s that story…?” queries can be found in those books. Any single-author collections I choose to feature in between anthology series will be ones written by members of marginalized groups, until my personal library runs out of single-author collections by members of marginalized groups. Don’t fret: barring catastrophe, I’ll get around to the rest of you eventually.

Since this is a catalog site rather than a review site, the posts will be focused on plot summaries. Many will include mini (say, one- or two-sentence) reviews, but in some cases I just won’t bother. If I found a story particularly interesting or wonderful (or just plain awful) I may write a longer review.

Lots of the stories are in more than one of the anthologies in my library; in those cases, I’ll append additional anthology titles to each original post as I come across them, rather than put up another post for the same piece. Original publication information for each story will be pulled from each anthology’s copyright page.

Beginning August 1st, I’ll post at least one summary daily. There will be spoilers. SO MANY SPOILERS. This site is for people who’ve already read these stories, but can’t recall the title and/or author. These hypothetical readers probably do recall the ending – especially if there was a twist – and are probably searching for the stories using key plot points. So the spoilers are necessary, #sorrynotsorry.

Since putting up only one summary a day would take at least 10,000+ days, and 27+ years is a long time to work on any one project, I will also have at least one summary bomb – where I drop three or five or even ten posts a day for a few days in a row – each month. Maybe I can get that timeline down to around 15 years instead. Or maybe I’ll crash and burn some time around Year Three (if that happens, I promise to try and make it spectacular).

No matter what, this is gonna be fun.