My Year of Short Stories: Dec 15th – Dec 18th

Dec 15th, 2017, Skipped by Emily Taylor, Asimov’s Science Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Blurb: An interesting piece about space travel and the implications of alternate realities. The protagonist, a woman in one reality is on a spaceship from one place to another when she suddenly “skips,” from her own reality to a different one. A man is sitting next to her when, a moment before, there was no man. This reality she has found herself in is everything she hopes for in her own world. It is a snapshot of what is possible and she has a choice to make. When a person slips they can either seek asylum and leave her own family (her husband and son) behind, or she can return to her own reality with the knowledge of what is possible in a world that seems to have lost hope.

A nice snapshot piece that is as hopeful as it is sentimental. I enjoyed it but didn’t find it groundbreaking. (C)

Dec 16th, 2017, Big Girl by Meg Elison, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Blurb: A giant girl appears in San Francisco Bay. She is identified as a 15-year-old latino girl from Oakland. Nobody can explain why she has become over 300 feet tall. She is also naked and there is nothing big enough to cover her up. The piece is cleverly written as a collection of narratives, online articles, and social media posts. This piece, the author explains, sprung up with the idea (and truth) that women are never the “right” size. They are always too large or too small in our society.

The piece is clever in form, well written, and has a strong metaphor. (B)

Dec 17th, 2017, Attachments by Kate Wilhelm, Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Blurb: A ghost story about a woman who becomes haunted after visiting a castle in England. She Returns home to New York and his threatened by the ghosts to complete a collection of tasks that will set them free.

That’s pretty much the gist. Obviously, I’m not stoked about this selection. As the editor writes, Kate Wilhelm first published in F&SF back in 1962. Because of this, this one feels like a name the mag knows and so published it. It didn’t strike me as new or interesting, and the protagonist never felt like a real person to me. She just seemed like a means to an end for other characters in the story. The end also seemed like it came out of left field. I didn’t see any foreshadowing of this outcome, which made it feel random and unbelievable. (D-)

Dec 18th, 2017, Aloft Above A Floor of Stars by Tom Purdom, Asimov’s Science Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017

Blurb: This story is one of my favorites from Asimov’s thus far. On one side it’s a look at the implications of getting researchers outside of our galaxy so they can make observations. On the other side, it’s about gender roles, expectations, and sexuality. The social aspects of this piece are far more interesting than the SF elements. In this far future, people can alter their personalities on the go. For instance, some men have chosen to alter themselves to be exactly what women need and want out of their partners, while some women have also altered themselves to becomes what men have always wanted and needed. Each situation is base and sees no compromise. Not that the men and women who alter themselves to become what the other sex wants/needs are unhappy, they are, but the two people who are sent outside of the galaxy are on different sides of what this gene-editing means. The woman, Kemen, believes the men who serve women and the women who serve men have distinguished themselves as different species. They are incompatible in every way. The man on this mission, Revali, believes these two groups can be reunited. That they are not so different.

The conversations that transpire between these two characters are wonderful. Why do men and women need such different things from each other? As a man, I wonder often how I am influenced (programmed) by media and culture to perceive women in a certain light, what I find attractive, what I do not. What I think will make me happy (due to social conditioning–of being told “this will make you happy”) compared what I have found will ultimately be more fulfilling in a deeper sense.

This piece tackles a lot of issues for me that I think about often. I think more people should think about this stuff as well.

If there was a flaw, the ending, as is typical, didn’t quite live up. (A-)

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