Short Stories by Brooke Bolander

Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring

Published: February 2012, Lightspeed

Genre: weird Western

Length: 16 pages

Setting: American Southwest, probably 1800s

Interest: It was included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology (as were the following two stories).

Summary: Rosa is out in the desert, tracking her erstwhile fiance. Turns out, he had a bad habit of killing his brides, and Rosa found out before her wedding day. She went after her fiance, to provide revenge for the dead girls she found at his villa. Along the way, she has the help of spectral foxes who represent the souls of the dead girls.

Title comes from: The titular vixens came into existence by being thrown up by Rosa as she was hunting her fiance

Sun Dogs

Published: September 2012, Lightspeed

Genre: alternative history

Length: 8 pages

Setting: Russia in the 1960s

Summary: The story is told from the point of view of Laika, the dog the Russians sent into space. She’s in her capsule and remembering her capture, training and launch into space. As she continues to orbit the earth, she’s greeted by dogs made of fire and given a choice as to what she wanted for her life.

Title comes from: Sun dogs are a solar phenomenon, and are treated in this story as if the were real dogs

The Beasts of Earth, the Madness of Men

Published: November 2013 in Nightmare

Genre: a bit of horror fiction

Length: 5 pages

Setting: the ocean, probably 1800s

Summary: The narrator is hunting a whale, with the rest of her crew and ship dead and broken. It becomes apparent the whale is not just any whale, since it is rotting as it swims. At one point, the whale beaches itself in the hopes of dying, but the narrator pushes it back out to sea to hunt again.

Title comes from: The beast was a whale (although it’s not really of the earth) and the madness of men was because the narrator kept repeating the same actions, hoping for a different end result (maybe – I couldn’t really figure out what she was hoping for in her ongoing hunt).

Final thoughts: My favorite of the three stories, by far, was the first. Bolander seems to enjoy despair and hopeless situations in her stories, and an animal protagonist. I’m sure there’s a message in the last story about madness and repeating actions, but I’m not very good at reading between the lines.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since these were short stories


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