Short Fiction

“The story is very well written and also engaging, which is impressive because the first third deals with a rather boring look at a rather boring life. This is to be expected, as most day-to-day lives are boring. We wake up, we go to jobs we’d rather not do, we carry on at conversations we’d rather not have. But the strength of Merriam’s writing is that this day-to-day tedium holds as much poetry and resonance and insight as the more tense scenes later in the story, after the epidemic has been revealed.”

– Jason Sanford, “Strange Horizons, October 2008,” The Fix, December 3, 2008.


“What makes the work worth reading is the author’s prose, clear and descriptive, with a bit of refreshing tartness.”

– Lois Tilton, “Short Fiction, November 2008,” The Internet Review of Science Fiction, November 2008.


“‘The Boatman’ by Joanne Merriam is one of the gems of this issue.”

– Jim Stratton, “On Spec #69,” The Fix, October 22, 2007.



“‘Little Ambushes’ by Joanne Merriam is about an art exchange program in which an alien spends a month in a human house learning human art… Merriam seems to have been aiming for emotional depth, but I couldn’t feel it… At the end, I didn’t care about what had happened.”

– Alex Dally MacFarlane, “Strange Horizons, August 2007,” The Fix, October 14, 2007.


“Merriam’s deft, detailed prose finds its way as easily around the love between the narrator and Brenda as around the world’s reaction to the aliens–first denial and then weaponization. It’s finally a love story, though, a flashing vignette about what it’s like to lose someone.”

– Elizabeth A. Allen, “Strange Horizons, March, 2007,” Tangent Online, 30 March 2007.


“Be warned that this story is not as light-hearted as the title would lead you to believe. ‘Hippopotamus’ is a dark tale of consequences, of thwarted desire, and of the discovery of a bizarre crossing point to the afterlife.”

– Jason Fischer, review of Strange Horizons, 6th March 2006 in Tangent Online, 2 April 2006.


“Joanne Merriam’s ‘The Purple Hippopotamus Wading Pool’ is affecting and well written, but it seemed to me to be a story about how women who cheat on their husbands will, or should, be punished and degraded horribly, a position I find troubling, though certainly not every reader will see the story this way, or mind.”

– Matthew Cheney, “Recent Fiction at Strange Horizons,” March 21, 2006.


“‘Seeing Red,’ by Joanne Merriam, is an equally engrossing story that in four short pages manages to present and bring into collision the lives of four distinctive characters. I find the artful prose of these lines by Merriam to be a good representation of the top-notch writing so pervasive in The Fiddlehead.”

– Mark Cunningham, review of The Fiddlehead, Number 224, Summer 2005.



“The story starts off grounded in reality. The polar bears lay about and the tourists snap pictures. The timeline then flits around, providing some extraneous background that interrupts the pace of the story. When we return to the tundra, reality has been usurped by fantasy and the plot takes one twist, then another. Since I adore polar bears, the story drew me in right away and the twists kept me entertained to the end.”

– Suzanne Church, review of “Walking Hibernation,” Tangent Online, 2004-11-10.


“At only half a page and a couple of hundred words, ‘Ribbons Lightning’ by Joanne Merriam is over before it’s really got going. As a snapshot it succeeds, painting a picture both beautiful and dark with admirable brevity.”

– Martin Jenner, review of “On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 16 no. 1 # 56 spring 2004,” SF, November 2004.



“Walking Hibernation is an interesting, if not completely successful, look at an alternative reality where the myths of our world–dragons, werecreatures, vampires, and so on–are not only real but fully recognised by the people living there.”

– Patrick Samphire, review of “Walking Hibernation,” Speculative Fiction Reviews, 5 October 2004.

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