A few years back I quickly fell in love with the short fiction of Sam J. Miller. Published across a spectrum of electronic genre venues (Shimmer, Apex, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Clarkesworld, Uncanny), Miller also gained recognition in print with “Calved”, originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction and reprinted in multiple ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies.
I’m drawn to Miller’s fiction for several reasons that tie together. Foremost are his characters: strong and unique voices that reflect points of views not frequently explored in genre fiction. Even though these characters may often be very different from myself – with conditions or experiences I’ve never faced – Miller excels at making them universally relatable. His themes focus on the strengths and weaknesses of their basic humanity. Beautiful mixtures of fragility and fortitude, Miller’s characters compel reader empathy and emotion, even if the character’s specific situation is personally unfamiliar to the reader. This character-driven realism gives Miller’s insightful explorations a mainstream, literary tone. Yet, Miller’s stories are firmly in the genre camp. It is this deft balance between literary realism and the uncanny or speculation of SciFi/Fantasy/Horror that I enjoy so much.