Short Story of the Day #1: “As the Last I May Know” by S.L. Huang

Welcome to Short Story of the Day: a new series where I give you one short story—or novelette, or drabble—to read every morning. We’re starting off with S.L. Huang’s “As the Last I May Know,” which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 2020.

Why Short Story of the Day?

Since this is the inaugural post, it only makes sense for me to explain why I’m starting this series. I can assure you that my reasons are mostly selfish, but you’ll get something out of this as well, so it can’t be all bad, right?

When talk started to swirl about the possibility of a Twitter exodus in April 2022, I started to worry. Twitter was—and, as of this writing, is—the social media platform I used to connect to my writer friends. So I made a Tumblr account as a backup, posted links to my Instagram and Mastodon, and crossed my fingers that someone, anyone would eat a certain billionaire.

Now, I was a Tumblr gremlin back when the deep magic was written, and I always loved how easy it was to automate your blog there. You just add posts to your queue, set it, and forget it! So to make things easy on my poor, ADHD-addled brain, I started posting Short Stories of the Day to share the stories I loved with my—nonexistent—Tumblr followers.

I’ve always struggled to make content on a regular schedule. Once I had the first thirty or so Short Stories of the Day queued up, I thought, why not add them to the main blog and see what comes of it?

The added bonuses, of course, are that I get to read more short fiction for work and potentially grow my subscriber base. But even if that doesn’t happen, there’s no reason I won’t keep posting Short Stories of the Day to share with anyone who happens across this blog.

Now let’s talk about the story.

Why “As the Last I May Know”?

By the time I read this story, I was already familiar with Roger Fisher’s essay, “Preventing Nuclear War,” which proposed that any president wishing to authorize a nuclear strike must first murder one person face-to-face in order to obtain the launch codes. Huang dives headfirst into this proposal, imagining a world in which a quasi-religious movement has sprung up to oppose the use of nuclear weapons.

I knew as soon as I read it that 1) I had to teach it, and 2) it had to be taught alongside Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” and that’s exactly what I did. Although we didn’t get into the kind of brain-bending morality debate I’d hoped for, my students enjoyed it. Now, I’m sharing it with you.

My favorite line:

“It’s not about right and wrong,” she said to him. “It’s about making it hard.”

Click here to read “As the Last I May Know.”


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Image credit: Simone Hutsch on Unsplash