September 28th, 2017, An Incident In The Literary Life of Nathan Arkwright by Allen M. Steele, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A humorous look at an overlooked SF author’s misadventure in Nashville.
Opinion: I think this piece speaks some deep truths to what authors want from their writing. Remembrance. I think it does a good job showing how older, established authors might feel when new authors, younger authors, authors from a new generation with different world views, begin to take center stage. I think it’s a fun romp with a tinge of fantasy/SF–but nothing too blatant.
September 29th, 2017, The Cabinet by William Preston, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A creepy story that deals with fortune telling, German folklore, and sonmnambulism.
Opinion: I really liked this story in terms of plotting and tone, however, I sometimes had a difficult time following the style of the author. One theme I enjoyed was the unknown being always unknown and therefore frightening.
September 30th, 2017, Head, Scales, Tongue, Tale by Leigh Bardugo, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Series Editor, John Joseph Adams, Editor, Charles Yu. Originally Published in Summer Days and Summer Nights.
Blurb: A story about the mysteries of growing up in a small town and the flurry of confusion when it feels the adult world is leaving you behind.
Opinion: This was a super well written story and I really enjoyed it. The ending was pretty obvious and I think the fantastical part of it could have been accomplished in different ways that could have been more interesting or unexpected, but one of the nice parts about genre is that comfort to know how things might work in the end, I guess. (B)
October 1st, 2017, The Cartographer Wasps And The Anarchist Bees by E. Lilly Yu, Clarkesworld Year 5, editors, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace.
Blurb: A fairy tale allegory about hegemony and enslavement–but also what wonders sometimes comes from such horrible situations.
Opinion: The narration of this piece takes an omniscient tone on how one civilization subjugates another. It is told in a fairy tale style, but with a nice flow. The pacing is great–especially for a piece in which there aren’t any “main characters” or protagonists. While there’s certainly a faction the author wants you to empathize with, there isn’t a single character to connect the reader to the piece. Despite this, it’s a well written story that kept my attention from start to finish. (B)
October 2nd, 2017, Letters From Sweden: Letter I. by Mary Wollstencraft.
Blurb: Mary writes about her experience going to shore in Norway to visit with locals.
Opinion: This is not a piece I would read on my own. This fall I am assistant teaching in a freshmen class at The Evergreen State College, and students are reading this piece, assigned by their professor. I feel about this piece of literature, much as I do about other antiquated works; it has merit in the use of language, but surely students would be better served to learn how language is being used now, in today’s world, rather than in the 1700’s. The reason I believe this is due to the fact that if someone would seek to write in the style of Wollstencraft they would be shamed for the use of punctuation and grammar, as the written language has changed in the last 300 years. Can students learn from this example of pioneering travel writing? Surely. But to what application will be this lesson. Nebulous or concrete? (D)
October 3rd, 2017, Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela, published Clarkesworld: Year 5.
Blurb: In a world where aliens have confiscated books due to the harm “frozen voice” does to them, a young girl and her little brother go in search of their mother who disappeared while searching a hidden library to recover what literature she could.
Opinion: Great story. Well written. It pays homage to The War of The Worlds, and also put me in the spot where I felt as though I could really see, feel, hear the world that had been constructed. I like the allegory to book burning. genocide, Utopian and dystopian societies, all in one story. (C+)
October 4th, 2017, Teenagers From Outer Space by Dale Bailey, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Series Editor, John Joseph Adams, Editor, Charles Yu. Originally published in Clarkesworld, 2016.
Blurb: Alien monsters take over the slummy part of town and start sending their kids to the high school. The year is 1955, and the narrator, Nancy, has a rebellious friend. This rebellious friend, Joan, visits the part of town the aliens have changed and is never the same again.
Opinion: A wonderful tale about integration in schools, bi-racial relationships, and the advent of an era in which rebellion against norms was essential to the United States identity. The narration is super tricky in this piece also, as it slides back and forth in time, letting on more than it outrightly reveals at times, only to increase tension for what is a mystery until later on in the story. (B)