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The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain by Jason Sanford

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“The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain” is a 2008 science fiction novelette by Jason Sanford. It is about a weather forecaster who discovers an amazing secret about her small, mud-packed world.

SciFi Strange?

Jason Sanford is quickly becoming one of my favorite short story authors. I think it is because I really enjoy the wierd settings and concepts in his science fiction stories. After reading Jason’s recent post about SciFi Strange (with which I totally agree) I was reminded of how much I liked his other stories: Book Scouts of the Galactic Rim and When Thorns Are the Tips of Trees. Both are awesome! So when Jason notified me that he had made his award winning story “The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain” available for free in PDF format I couldn’t help myself – I had to read it! I’m glad I did.

A Crappy Place to Live!

cumulus cloud

So, “The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain” is about Master Tem, a woman who serves as the town’s weatherman. (Yes, “weatherman” – even though she is a woman!) She has the thankless job of watching the skies for large space ships that might dump their considerable amount of organic waste on the town – thereby causing a torrent of mayhem. It’s a shitty job but somebody has to do it! (Ha! Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) Anyway, when Master Tem and her apprentice Cres accidentally discover a tunnel beneath the weather watchtower their curiosity gets the best of them – much to the disapproval of the town mayor and constables!

My Two Cents…

“The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain” is a perfect example of the new SciFi Strange stories. The world on which it is set has to be the most unique setting I have ever come across – a small world made up entirely of waste dropped from overhead ships! Ha! I absolutely loved it!

But it’s not just the setting that was so good – the story was told very well too. The characters, the conversations, and even the surprise ending all flowed together very smoothly. This story exemplifies two things that I am constantly searching for: 1) a great story idea that is 2) told well. Kudos, Jason, for one of the best stories I have read this year. When is Jason going to put out a collection of his short stories? I know I’ll be the first in line to purchase it.


  • My Rating: 4.9 out of 5
  • Page Count: 14
  • Word Count: 8,049
  • Originally published in Interzone, issue 217, August 2008.
  • Reprinted in Year’s Best SF 14 , edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.
  • Listen to the story for free at Star Ship Sofa.
  • Awards:
    • Placed 4th in the 2009 Interzone Poll.
    • Nominated for the 2009 British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction.
    • Nominated for the 2008 BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction.

One thought to “The Ships Like Clouds, Risen by Their Rain by Jason Sanford”

  1. Rusty: Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you like the story. I also promise to work on that short story collection. Guess it’s time to start bugging the book publishers.

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