Skip to main content

What I Read in April

Being the start of May, it must be time to suggest a few stories to read from last month. As chance would have it, some of my favorite stories from the year so far appeared within the past 30 days. If you are a fan of speculative fiction, consider some of the offerings below:
  • "All the Red Apples Have Withered to Grey" by Gwendolyn Kiste (Shimmer). Damn fine story. Sort of a fairy tale, taking elements from a few different sources, set in a realm that seems vaguely European medieval but could also be Pennsylvania. I know what I prefer. The idea of young women being sold off to an apple orchard keeper for the chance a prince might come to waken them from a sleep is handled exceptionally well. The pay off is ambiguous while still providing considerable pay-off for the story. This is a story that had me within the first few lines and never really let me go. This is probably my favorite work of hers since "Ten Questions."
  • "Touring with the Alien" by Caroline Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld). This adventurous and entertaining novella reminded me of "Way Down East," a Tim Sullivan story I read in Clarkesworld last year. In both stories, aliens are used as a metaphor for loss and longing, and the irreducible distance between individuals. Gilman knows her way around neurobiology, though, and uses a chummy and breezing narrator to talk about things that make Peter Watts write blog posts. Another story that is greatly helped by a bold and unexpected ending.
  • "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia (Nightmare). This was a real heart-render. The genius of this piece is its delicately woven ambiguity. Although all the pieces are laid out in plain view there is a subtle design to their placement that leads the reader to places of wonder and doubt. This is not a horror story but a meditation on dread and grey failure. The protagonist, the father who provides a safe home for his trauma scarred daughter, slowly damns himself with his own words. Rarely has a story communicated the hell of diminished expectations and inevitability like this story. 
  • Reaper's Rose by Ian Whates. (Nightmare) Cleaver-like story, first notch sinking deep, each whack at the same target only bringing it closer to the inevitable separation. This is a story with a singular impression in mind, a single simple idea. The conclusion comes into view quickly - inevitable, and unstoppable. The fact that the ending has been cantilevered into place beneath you is the only reality needed. Do we need to know what's going to happen after the final line. Do we need to know who the narrator is or who she is speaking with? No and no and no.
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 …