Short Stories by Vajra Chandrasekera

Interest: They were two of the stories included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Pockets Full of Stones

Published: July 2013 in Clarkesworld

Genre: science fiction

Length: about 15 pages

Setting: far future, a space station relay far from Earth

Summary: Dike and Hadil are the two technicians on Makemake Station. Their job is to relay messages between a colony ship light-years away and Earth. Dike’s grandfather is captain of the colony ship and she’s been using her time on the relay station to talk to him. The big news in the latest message is evidence of first contact. Unfortunately, it seems the alien has followed the signal back towards Earth, infecting and killing the technicians. Dike lasts long enough to hopefully keep the aliens from getting to Earth.

Final thoughts: It seemed like there were two stories in one, here. The first story was about Dike trying to get closure on a family mystery by talking to her grandfather (who was younger than her, due to time dilation). The second story was about an alien traveling on an information stream and killing humans, whether intentional or not. I would have preferred one story or the other. Trying to do both in a short story was too much.

Title comes from: I don’t really know.

The Jackal’s Wedding

Published: November 2013 in Apex

Genre: animal fantasy

Length: about five pages

Setting: somewhere in the woods

Summary: Jack has always lived in the glade with her father. She doesn’t want to marry him, like all her sister-mother (and all the sister-mother’s before). So, when Tien shows up in the glade and makes her feel loved, she shape-changes into a human and marries him. Turns out, Tien knew how to kill Jack’s father – father a son on Jack. Once Jack realizes Tien wants her only for the treasure, she kills him.

Final thoughts: Eh, not really my type of story. Yes, Jack does take agency and doesn’t stick with the man just because he makes her feel pretty. Even so, nothing much there for me. That’s OK. I don’t expect to like all the stories. At least with short fiction, you don’t have to invest much time if you don’t like it.

Title comes from: Jack is a golden jackal and Tien “marries” her in order to get her pregnant and be able to get the treasure.

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