Recent Reviews

After a long fallow period, a whole bunch of my short stories are coming out between now and the end of the year, and some of them have racked up some nice reviews.

Also, Jeffrey Ford is one of my favorite writers, and he was my first-week Clarion instructor, so imagine my delight when he highlighted me and my beloved Lisa Bolekaja as part of this recent Locus Roundtable on Ten Exciting Writers!

Tangent Online had some very lovely things to say about my story in Shimmer:
“Allosaurus Burgers,” a modern science fiction story by Sam J. Miller, tells the story of Matt, a young boy who lives near a farm where a real allosaurus is discovered. Living alone with his mother, a tall woman who works in a slaughterhouse, Matt’s view of the world is wrapped up in his mother’s opinions and prejudices. She towers over him like a god, and yet when he goes to see the allosaurus he comes face to face with something even larger. When his mother loses control after dealing with Matt’s father, it is up to Matt to try and protect her, and in so doing he finally sees her as a person, as capable of error. Weaving a complex family life without succumbing to cliche or simplification, the story shows the characters in all their richness, and handles a pivotal moment in a child’s life with art and power.”
io9 highlighted “Allosaurus Burgers” in their new (AWESOME) short fiction spotlight:
“…Reading this story right after the last one highlighted some (unintentional) synchonicities between the stories. They’re both about small communities filled with people and families who have known each other since forever, a fact that drives the character’s motivations more than they might know. Both stories feature a beast that disrupts the normal course of life, though in this one the disruption is far more evident, and more parable-tastic. And once again I love the voice in this one. Sam J Miller’s name should be familiar to fans of the dark fantastic since he recently won a Shirley Jackson Award for this story.
This review of “Wilde Stories 2014” highlighted my entry:

“Following is another excellent story. “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” by Sam J. Miller strongly stands out with a unique format that flows effortlessly, and memorable young adult characters, outstanding speculative fiction elements, gay theme, and a plot focused on friendship, bullying, revenge and betrayal.”

Over at Locus, Lois Tilton reviews TWO of my short stories that came out in the past month, “Songs Like Freight Trains,” in Interzone (“The prose is appropriately evocative, the premise compelling”), and “We Are The Cloud,” in Lightspeed (“A darkly cynical piece that doesn’t sugar-coat its circumstances”).
This random review of Allosaurus Burgers is only one sentence long: “I didn’t really get it.” And a rating of 1 out of 5 stars! I can take it.

Violin in a Void” does a great short fiction roundup, and they have nice things to say:
“My favourite story for July – and one of my favourites this year – was “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides by Sam J. Miller, from Nightmare Magazine. The story won a Shirley Jackson Award, and I can see why. It’s about Jared, a gay teenager, who has been viciously bullied by six boys at school. However, he discovers that he has a unique ability that he can use to take revenge, with the help of his best friend Anchal. What makes the story particularly interesting is that the whole thing is told in a list of 57 items – the reasons for the Slate Quarry suicides. It builds quite slowly, but the gruesome ending is just superb.”’s “Queering SFF” reviewed “57 Reasons” as well…
““57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” by Sam J. Miller is another strong piece, though much more on the “horror” end of things—as, frankly, many of the stories in this volume are. (And the Wilde Stories collections also tend to be, across the years.) It’s a list-story, which I tend to be a little iffy about as a form, but it works here reasonably well. The protagonist is simultaneously sympathetic and terrible, and the ending of the narrative is fairly brutal; it wasn’t entirely what I expected, but it did fit the piece. The title also gains a disturbing resonance in its implications about the deaths: that people think that it was suicide, when it was anything but.”
Posted on: September 10, 2014, by : Sam J. M.
File under: New Publications