Skip to main content

What I Read in July, 2016

Now, this was more like it. The great thing about having a month off is I could really dig into my favorite magazines and journals for the best of current speculative short fiction. That luxury has produced a list of a few stories I think worth your time. At the bottom of the post, I also have a link to the most recent chapter of "Agent Shield and Spaceman."
"Ley Line" by Morgan Crooks (2016) 
  • "Floodwaters" by Kristi DeMeester (The Dark). A ghost story is about the past, a ghost being the literal embodiment of something passed. This story hints and suggests, slowly filling in the gaps of a family's history until the flood waters submerge everything. The language here is simple, direct, and brutal while still preserving a dark species of poetry. One of my favorite works last month and that's saying a lot. 
  • "Some Pebbles in The Palm" by Kenneth Schneyer (Lightspeed). A really excellent philosophical piece concerned with many of the same topics as Andy Weir's classic flash piece, "The Egg:" death, resurrection, and the point of it all. Compared to Weir, Schneyer is a bit more dour in his appraisal of the universe and our role within it, but I have to say the overall impression of the piece is oddly hopeful. Perhaps this stems from the narrator of the piece addressing the reader as the only thing real in the story. The closing passages resemble an exhortation, one particularly powerful coming from a voice at once world-weary and unapologetically empathic. 
  • "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper " by Douglas F. Warrick edited by Ann VanderMeer (Tor.com). Amazing work of slipstream mind bending. A time traveler attempts to escape the demons of his past by transporting himself into Lincoln's head in the frozen moment before his assassination. There's a little bit of Lynch here and Charlie Kaufman but mostly this is a story about how intention forming habits forms the fractal iterations of our own over-determined histories. In addition to being evocative, the story seems to open up some new terrain in time travel speculation and fantasy literature. 
  • "Find Me, Mommy" by Gwendolyn Kiste (reprinted by The Wicked Library). I would strongly suggest listening to the podcast - it's very short and super creepy. This is the third story I've read of Kiste's centering around disappearance and unexplained loss. This is a shorter, more spooky piece than "Once Gone, Lost Forever," and last year's superlative "Ten Things to Know About The Ten Questions," but also one more knit into a plausible world of quiet imperturbable weekends and grim hospital beds. Like her other stories, disappearance is a complicated phenomena, simultaneously providing a sense of dread and hopelessness but also a curious source of strength. 
  • Fish Dance by Eric Schwitzgebel (Clarkesworld). Interesting look at a future religion centered around the creation of immortal post-humans and their moral choice to become a record of humanity. The ending is what counts here: poetic and surreal, horrifying and tender, the final words answering a question asked at the story's beginning. I am fond of how Schwitzgebel weaves world-building throughout the story, suggesting the course of his imagined future while still keeping the focus tight on the plight of his narrator. 
***

In other news, the next chapter of my weird espionage thriller "Agent Shield and Spaceman," is now available. As Spaceman attempts to infiltrate Gunther Thulewaite's ranch, he takes time to pursue two of his favorite hobbies.

Comments

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 …

Arisia 2019: Wrap Report

Arisia 2019 is over!

It’s back to the real world this week after an entire weekend in Arisia 2019. I go to this convention every year, but this one will definitely be special to me. For one thing, this is the year that felt, at least for a moment, like it wasn’t going to happen. If the debacle with the e-board wasn’t enough, there was the strike at the Westin. The convention felt slimmer this year for sure. A lot of people self-selected to not come this year and honestly with the smaller, more confined venue of the Boston Park Plaza, that was a decision enormously beneficial to my enjoyment of this con.
I had a blast. I was more invested in the panels this year because I wrote a portion of them. It’s one thing to go to a panel and listen for reading suggestions, or new ideas, or people to follow on social media, but it’s quite another to put together a panel of people to create a very specific conversation and then get to sit back to see how the discussion plays out. I loved that aspect…

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…