The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington – Phenderson Djéli Clark

Fireside Magazine Issue 52, February 2018

Spoilers Ahead!

The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington is a 2019 Hugo Awards finalist in the Best Short Story category.

“By Cash pd Negroes for 9 Teeth on Acct of Dr. Lemoire”

– Lund Washington, Mount Vernon plantation, Account Book dated 1784.

George Washington, slavery and magic collide in this alternate history. While I will never understand the mentality that makes people think slavery is ever an option I enjoyed reading about the strength and character of the nine slaves included in this story. I particularly loved anticipating the impact each particular tooth would have on George.

For the blacksmith understood what masters had chosen to forget: when you make a man or woman a slave you enslave yourself in turn.

You can read this short story online here. I’ll definitely be rereading this story.

Content warnings include suicide attempts.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

STET – Sarah Gailey

Fireside Magazine Issue 60, October 2018

STET is a 2019 Hugo Awards finalist in the Best Short Story category.

This story is told in an unusual and interesting way. It’s a scientific paper with annotations. For me the story came alive more in the annotations, although the footnotes provide sufficient information for you to learn the story behind the story. I tend to gloss over whenever I encounter copious footnotes in any text so that influenced my reading experience here.

I had to force myself to get to the guts of the actual story. I felt the pain and anger in this piece but overall it didn’t work for me. I see journal articles and I automatically think of dry, wordy documents I drudged through to find information for university assignments, so I don’t think this format was ever going to be a winner for me.

You can read this short story online here. I found this version didn’t flow as well for me as the PDF version with handwritten notes, even though they contain the same text.

Content warnings include references to the death of a child.

Rating: 3 out of 5.