Skip to main content

What I Read in September

September was a busy month for me. Back to school. Two collections including my stories. A great number of stories to pore through in under thirty days.




I am including my favorite stories out of the Bundoran Anthology, Second Contacts, that includes my story “This Beautiful Creature.” I’ll probably do something similar next month with the Game Fiction Volume 1. I think both collections contained some killer stories and it’s my pleasure to talk up them and their authors.

Okay, on to the picks for September 2015:
  1. The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap (Uncanny Magazine) A beautiful and terrible meditation on war and the thirst for violence and death. An oni daughter infiltrates an Imperial Japanese army unit and begins to feed upon them. Her tent mate is a boy neutered by his anguish and loss, slowly sliding into being an accomplice.
  2. The Peace of Worlds by Jaime Babb (Second contacts) So everyone knows what happened when the Martians invaded before. For all of their overwhelming fire-power and technology in the end the smallest of earthly life-forms, bacteria, laid waste to them all. In this clever alt history tale the Martians try again with applied economics. As any student of history knows, soft-power can succeed where overt uses of force often fail.
  3. Get the Message by Peter Wendt (Second contacts) Nifty story revolving around that most plausible of all impossible technologies - the ansible. Although Wendt uses a different term to describe this instantaneous communications device with alien races, what he is describing is an ansible. The pleasure here is that because the aliens are simply another voice (?) on the phone he can introduce a great number of different species in a very short story. Also enjoyable is the twists and turns of the plot as Earthlings cast desperately about for extraterrestrial assistance in the face of an alien invasion.
  4. Ten Things to Know about the Ten Questions by Gwendolyn Kiste. (Nightmare) This is my favorite Kiste story since the last Kiste story I read. She gets better and better as a writer, here weaving a Leftovers-like scenario into psychological test. I found myself gripped by a nameless extential dread, the fear the worst thing imaginable was about to happen. Another masterful story from my favorite new writer.
  5. Cremulator by Robert Reed. (Clarkesworld) A haunting story about the mysteries of love and death. Poignant and scientific and yet very magical. I’m thinking about writing a post about the few recent stories I’ve run across doing this sort of thing well - this ongoing project to incorporate fairy tales and magical realism tropes into solid science fiction.
  6. The Springwood Center for Genetically Modified Animals, by Verity Lane (Crossed Genres) One of the best science fiction stories I’ve read on CG. Easily one of my favorites this month. This poignant, uber creepy story follows a human orphan looking for a job in an animal shelter for GMO pets. A slow steady burn through a sad, sad future.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

Reaction on Utopia Versus Dystopia

Are stories about utopias morally superior to stories about dystopias? By writing about futures where governments break down, resources run dry, pandemics run rampant, and zombies wolf down unsuspecting pedestrians, are we making those things more likely to happen?
Give credit where credit is due, +Robert Llewellyn asked a provocative question in his post to the the sci-fi community the other day. Does the preponderance of dystopian, post-apocalyptic (a word he doesn't actually use, but I feel fits his description of most zombie movies) come from the fears of the ruling class (predominantly white, anglo-saxon and rich)? Are these futures presented to us because that's the future the elites fear, one of rapidly reduced power and prestige? 
Robert quickly back-tracked from his question on whether or not dystopias are ever written by the under-privledged. Of course there are, from all over the world. There are also plenty of writers from conservative or elite backgrounds more th…

Writing Horror

I'm wary offering advice to other writers. 

First of all I've got the whole imposter syndrome thing and whatever advice I give feels like a good way of revealing how little I know about anything. Second, what I've learned mostly relates to solving problems in my own writing. What advice does a dog have to offer to a duck on how to swim? 
However, for Arisia 2018, I'll be participating on a panel of doing just that - giving advice to aspiring horror writers about writing horror.

So, what truths can I impart?

Some advice feels absolutely true, if a bit self-evident.

You must read. If you're trying to write horror then you must read horror. Not just one novel. Not just one author. You should make a sincere effort to read everything by everyone. The more recent the better. The classics are always going to be there, but if you want a sense of where your stories could fit, you need to see what is being published out there.

You must write. I do not think you have to write …