“Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters—H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town!” by Michael Swanwick & Gregory Frost is an Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine Readers’ Awards Finalist in the novelette category. It runs to about ten thousand words and was originally published in Asimov’s April-May 2015 issue. Currently, this story and most of the other finalists are available to read for free on the Readers’ Awards Finalists page at Asimov’s.
An amusing story, hilarious in places, about a couple of con artists with supernatural powers and the effect they have on a young woman and a small town in the mid west in general. The town is suffering a drought and these two claim to be able to end it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and it didn’t seem like a novelette. The story and the characters pulled me through the story and it was over in no time and I was left wanting more. This has to be the ultimate aim of the best short stories — there is no point in writing a story that is so dense and impenetrable, or just plain boring, that readers have to force themselves from one word to the next. This was a real page-turner for me.
I am finding that, in general, I am preferring the contemporary short stories more than the older ones. That is probably a good thing.