Skip to main content

What I Read in October

It's tough to believe that it's already November! I will be grateful to see the other side of Tuesday as my mood right now is cautiously optimistic. The polls have stabilized and the early voting patterns encourage. If you haven't already - remember to vote!

Besides a few anthologies worth of short stories, I got to review about the expected number of current short fiction. I'm selecting a few that really stuck with me this month.

  • A Diet of Worms by Valerie Valdes. The best Twilight Zone episodes, the scariest ones, revolved around worlds just slightly out of step with our own. They were like traps or snares. Take the wrong door or stop at the wrong town and there you'd be, stuck forever. That's what this story is like. The narrator keeps going to see a movie called "The Queen in Red" which somehow sucks the life out of the narrator. The terror here is of that dread that once time has gone it can't come back. 
  • The Key to St Medusa's by Kat Howard. (Lightspeed) This story at times appears a reworking of the Bluebeard legend, but with an exploration of the wider world around the monster's brides. I used the opening in the Creative Writing Workshop I facilitate as an example of how to build interest and quickly establish a world. Case in point: "Also, I was born on a Tuesday." 
  • "The Next Scene" by Robert Reed. (Clarkesworld) Interesting look at a post human world where people act out roles to attract extra money from machine overlords. Not quite a dystopia, the story seems to suggest that the roles we play in our lives don't require anything so flashy as the Singularity to explain. 
  • "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" by Brooke Bolander. A seriously bad-assed flash story. The attitude of this story, the sheer hostility it conjures, seems capable of fulfilling the promise of its title all in itself. Language set free, wrought fresh and contemporary is always a shocking act because it seems to render obsolete everything that came before it. That would be my biggest take-away from this story. Not the revenge it describes - but its act of jubilant obliteration.

Also, a final note - I may have some exciting news to share with the next few days. I just want to make some confirmations beforehand...

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

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 …

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 …

We Have Always Lived in Haunted Houses

As my final pre-Arisia post, I'd like to tackle ghosts. Metaphorically, of course, because ghosts are intangible and also don't exist. 


I don't believe in ghosts. Not the sort of ghosts, anyway, that float around decaying old mansions or scare impressionable media personalities. Physics, at least the way I've grown up understanding it, precludes the existence of energy that cannot be detected reliably. Put another way, physicist Brian Cox stated that if ghosts existed the Large Hadron Collider would have almost certainly found one by now.

So, when I say I'm a fan of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, am I being hypocritical? Possibly, but I also think one can appreciate ghosts and haunted houses in a different way. Even though they might not exist in a 'peer-reviewed' and 'experimentally replicable' fashion, phantoms absolutely exist as a potent symbol of the past.

When we talk about ghosts what we're really talking about is that annoying…