I had to start at the ground for today's post. So far as I know, I'm not familiar with any writers with a first or last name starting with "Y." I searched around and decided to give Caroline M. Yoachim a spin by reading five of her stories (none of which is over 2,000 words and all of which are available online for free).
"Current and Still" is an amazing flash fic. I can't pin down the genre exactly. It's fairly unique in that sense. I adored the first two paragraphs. They made it seem as if this story was going to have a very steep learning curve, but as it turned out, the "idea" part of this idea story is simple to understand. Despite this, it's an awesome idea. It weaves into the plot, setting, and characters perfectly. All three aspects of this story are top-notch.
Chalk up a second tally under "idea stories." And a second under "amazing." "Harmonies of Time," also published by Daily Science Fiction, is a bit longer than "Current and Still," coming in at 1,107 words. You can tell with relative certainty that it's science fiction. I think it could've actually survived at 999 if the change from flash to short story mattered, but even at its word count it contained all the best things short short fiction has to offer. The tone in this passage is succulent. Plot isn't as prevalent here as it is in "Current and Still," yet I didn't miss it. The setting and characters make up for it no problem.
Switching over to a fantasy short story published by Electric Velocipede, "The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown" is not quite as good as the two stories above, but it definitely isn't "bad." It is more narrative than the first two, containing instances of "was," "were," and "did" in an overabundance. The plot is nice and traditional, supported by a cool setting and decent characters, so it does well on those fronts. It's still worth a read, in my opinion.
"The Safe Road" is a stranger flash fic. It's also fantasy by my definition, although calling it sci-fi wouldn't be far from the truth. I didn't like the style of this story quite as much as I did the first two in this post, but the quality of the story is still decently high.
From Flash Fiction Online comes "One Last Night at the Carnival Before the Stars Go Out." At first I was only moderately "into" this story, but by the end I was pretty well roped in. The writing is calm and elegant, the plot, setting, and characters unique and whimsical. I love how the resolution worked, after such a huge climax.
I'll certainly keep my eye out for Caroline M. Yoachim from now on. She is a really solid writer if these five tales are a good reference. Her fascination with "time" is really cool, although I'm not quite so big a fan of her "carnival" duo. She is one of the better writers of "idea" stories I've encountered. Anyone who likes SFF should check Yoachim out. Right now. Go.