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Short Take Reviews for October 2018

I'm going to try to collect together a random assemblage of things I've been reading recently. As usual my interest falls on things I enjoyed rather than things I didn't. For the most part, reviews are for me a way to process what I'm experiencing for my own endeavors. That said, the world is full of movies, television shows, novels, songs, and short stories that I wager some have never heard of. For that reason, I hope you might find some value in these write-ups.
Joy as and Act of Resistance by IDLES. I bought the IDLES other album after seeing it still mentioned in music review sites months after its release. With acerbic, strangely jubliant song shards like Stendhal Syndrome and White Privilege, this album worked an unexpected magic upon me. I found my self growing increasingly taken by the juxtaposition of harsh art-punk songs overlaid by singer Joe Talbot's sing-shout anthems. Joy as an Act of Resistance is the same as Brutalism only more so (if that makes sen…
Recent posts

Review of "Rust Maidens" by Gwendolyn Kiste

The problem with mirrors is when you don't like what you see, you have to wonder if it's the mirror's fault or yours.

Gwendolyne Kiste's debut novel "Rust Maidens" mentions mirrors directly only a handful of times, and yet I was struck by the idea of reflections as a motif in the novel. Whether opaque, chrome, or clear as day, the figures of this story lurch forward in a funhouse gauntlet of perception and twisted perspective.

Phoebe Shaw returns to her Ohio hometown to confront the regrets and horrors of her childhood. Nearly thirty years prior, the young women of her neighborhood exhibited a terrible affliction. The eponymous 'Rust Maidens' are a group of five women who during the course of the summer of 1980, transform into phantoms of urban decay. Their skin puckers and peels, rusted metal bits poke out from the corners of their bodies, and nails change to jagged shards of glass.

The cause for this transformation and its effects are described with…

Story announcement and notes for "The Emissary"

My short story "Emissary" is now available over at Selene Quarterly Magazine. This is set in a post-apocalyptic Upstate New York beset by invaders from the West bent on conquering and enslaving whatever remains of civilization. In the face of this nightmare, a woman with very little faith in anyone around her tries to find someway of saving her town. Standing in her way is her husband, Jon Alban, a man she has every reason to doubt but that nevertheless might offer a way out of the crisis despite himself.
This story was written at the intersection of two ideas. The first was the sense of the main character, Darra, as a someone focused on saving a town she has very little faith in. The second idea was a retelling of a portion of Russian history.
Darra as a character was tricky to write and while I'm not sure I quite got her right, I do hope that her struggle to the right thing despite a Cassandra-like awareness of the weakness surrounding her is at least interesting. I thin…

Story Notes for "Ghost Notes"

This week my story, "Ghost Notes" appeared on the Dime Show Review website. Ghost Notes is one of a handful of contemporary fiction pieces I've written and only the third to be published. 
The story was easy to write in some respects. While not fully autobiographical, the incidents described in the story exist with unusual clarity within in my mind. The version you can read is not all that different in broad strokes from the first draft. That is definitely not always the case with my writing.
What do I think this story means? At heart, I think growing up means finding room to grow. Something has to be displaced in order for an individual to find enough space to find themselves. The character in this story finds himself in a very claustrophobic situation,  approaching the start of college with a sense of its possibilities without quite being able to imagine a world outside of the confines of his childhood room. I'm not sure if the ending is a happy ending for him or cas…

My story "Ghost Notes" now available at Dime Show Review

I am pleased to announce my story "Ghost Notes" is now available at the Dime Show Review, free online to read!

Despite the title, this is represents a bit of a change of pace from other stories recently published, as it contains far more youthful nostalgia and guitar playing than my usual monsters and robots. It is one of my favorite stories I've ever written and I hope you give it a try. While there, give the other stories at Dime Show a chance - they are fantastic!

Thank you to Kae Sable for choosing this story!

I will be putting together an author's notes post in the near future.

Addressed to Speculation

Dear J,

This is my third and final letter to you. You haven't replied to any of my previous messages and while I didn't expect you to, I think my desire to reach out to you has run its course. Perhaps not soon enough for your taste, but there it is.

My intention in writing to you was never to hector or convince you of anything. The course you have taken with your writing is your own and, frankly, I celebrate it. Rather, it was my hope that we could have extended our conversation after that one meeting.

Those who know far more than I about literary critique have cautioned of the perils in assuming intention in the work of others but nevertheless I cannot but help read some echo of our brief conversation in some of your current work. Perhaps a certain perversity or even an obstinate disregard animated your recent writing. Perhaps this is hubris but your use of a certain style in recent stories suggests you have also placed some thought into what we discussed.

If that is the case, I…

Post-Arisia 2018 Report

I think this was one of my favorite Arisias. First off, I had a bunch of panels, including a reading panel. That's always fun. In addition, all of the panels I went to were interesting, well-run, and gave me a lot to think about. I can only hope that my own contributions to Arisia were as worthwhile to the audience.

I certainly had my fill of stimulating conversations. As always, this convention gives me that singular chance to catch up with both friends and the state of SFF in general. I was happy to catch up with Matt, Alex, John, and Melanie, as well as Wendee and Dan. I got to see a few familiar faces from the con circuit: Gillian Daniels, Andrea Corbin, and Gillian Daniels and I met a bunch of awesome writers and reviewers. I even got in a great session of RPG, playing Masks, a superhero RPG powered by the Apocalypse. I was happy to see the Indie Expo return to the con even though the offerings were some what slim this year. 

A few thoughts on the panels I participated on: