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Another Word for World by Ann Leckie

Sorry I didn’t get a weekend post up. Miss Adventure and I went to a contra dance Saturday night and then we had a soccer tournament for Mr. Curiosity most of Sunday. Today, I have the last story in theĀ Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft anthology (still free for the Kindle!) by Ann Leckie. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this story since I loved her Imperial Radch trilogy.

Published: 2015

Genre: science fiction

Setting: an exoplanet, far future Continue reading

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Short stories by Bogi Takacs

These stories were included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology.

Recordings of a More Personal Nature

Published: November 2013 in Apex Magazine

Genre: fantasy

Setting: the Temple of some other world

Summary: Access to the Archives has suddenly become difficult. This is causing problems in completing administrative and political tasks. Archivists like Idriwu, who grew up accessing the Archives and therefore have part of their personalities within the Archive, are distraught to lose the connection. Even with aides (like drugs), access is becoming more difficult. Idriwu comes up with the idea of writing down the Archives so the information is still available when access to the Archives ends.

Final thoughts: An interesting concept that the culture would never have developed writing because they have perfect oral transmission of information via the Archive and the archivists. It certainly gives members of the Temple power, but no more than would be obtained if those were the only people who could read and write. I can’t believe any one person would be able to come up with a system of writing in a short time period, even starting with some rudimentary signs.

Title comes from: The assistant to Idriwu made the argument that the archivists should be allowed to make written recordings of their lives spent in the Archive as well as matters of state and history.

Mouse Choirs of the Old Matra

Published: July 2013 in Demeter’s Spicebox

Genre: fairy tale

Setting: the island plains in a distant past

Summary: A wise wizard who lives on the island plains makes friends with a mouse one day. When he feeds the mouse, she turns into a young maiden. The maiden decides to live with the wizard and they spend many happy days together. One day, the maiden decides she wants to marry, but only the best of the best. So, the wizard climbs on his trusty steed and looks to find the best of the best.

Final thoughts: This was a sweet story that followed a very traditional arc. I wasn’t surprised at any point in the story, which made it feel like I’d read it before, or at least something very similar.

Title comes from: When the maiden married, the mouse choirs sang for days under the mountain called Old Matra.

 

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Erzulie Dantor by Tim Susman

I’m continuing to work my way through the 2014 Campbellian Anthology.

Published: November 2012 in Apex Magazine

Genre: fantastical

Length: 7 pages

Setting: Bas-Le-Fond, Haiti, just after the big earthquake that leveled much of the country

Summary: Sirene has decided to use the earthquake as an excuse to eliminate her sister, Maisie, and get her house and wealth. Sirene fakes that a je-rouge controlled by Maisie tried to take her baby. She and her husband convince the neighbors that Maisie is evil and should be hanged that night. But, when Sirene and her man move into Maisie’s house, her baby is tempted away from her by a supernatural being and the house collapses around them.

Final thoughts: Interesting since this used Haitian stories as the backbone. It’s basically a story of karma, but the underlying mythology was unknown to me, so I found it very interesting. I also found it interesting that Erzulie Dantor saved the innocent baby before the house fell around Sirene and her husband. The husband had reservations about the plan, but ultimately went through with it and paid the ultimate price.

Title comes from: Erzulie Dantor is a Haitian Vodou spirit often associated with motherhood (at least according to the Wikipedia page). She convinces Sirene her baby is in danger and Sirene should give him to her, just before the house falls on Sirene.

 

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Short Stories by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Monday’s short fiction is from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, as I slowly make my way through the alphabet.

The Wanderers

Published: February 2013 in Clarkesworld

Genre: science fiction

Length: 8 pages

Setting: a future Earth

Summary: Aliens come to Earth after watching our entertainment. They know we’ll appreciate their ability to dominate and torture, based on all the movies they’ve watched. We’re doing a great job of hiding from them (as piles of ash that only one of the aliens realizes used to be people), but that just means Earth was the perfect place for them to come. They needed a challenge, after all, and their own subjects were boring and died without trying to fight back.

Final thoughts: This one was creepy. We’ve got aliens that think humanity likes torture and violence and horror, since that’s what our entertainment was all about. Of course, be careful around the cars. They must be weapons since they’re always exploding when they crash, which doesn’t match the physics of what should happen. The aliens kept making reference to classic movies that fit the situation (“…more like The Road or I Am Legend, only not like those at all because there was not even one of you left and no monsters in the shadows”). Turns out we killed all of humanity before the aliens could come and do it for us, and the aliens don’t realize it yet.

Title comes from: the aliens were the wanderers, looking for a good planet to inhabit and dominate

The Siren

Published: April 2013 in Strange Horizons; there’s also a podcast of the story

Genre: fantasy

Length: 12 pages

Setting: it felt like suburban California, present day

Summary: Mina shows up one day at Jen’s house. Her mom met her in Greece and invited her home. There’s something odd about her, starting with the bones poking through at her shoulder blades and continuing with the song she sings whenever she’s near the water. Turns out she’s a siren and, although not actively trying to harm Jen and her mother, her song drives them to nearly drowning. Jen decides to help Mina by crafting new wings for her, which sends her to a career of sculpting.

Final thoughts: While not as creepy as the previous story, this one was still quite depressing. None of the characters were particularly happy with their lives. Jen seemed to help the most – the wings she made for Mina did improve her life, and eventually her mom got over her dad’s death. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Wanderers.

Title comes from: Mina was a siren.

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The Scorn of the Peregrinator by John E. O. Stevens

It’s the latest story I read in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology. I’m currently 90% done! I’m sure I’ll finish next year, which means it will have only taken me three years to read all the stories.

Published: November 2012 in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Genre: fantasy

Length: 10 pages

Setting: another world with a too hot sun and limited technology

Summary: Our narrator is a young member of a tribe who is caught unawares outside his village by a stranger, a peregrinator. The peregrinator forces the narrator to take him into the village, where he demands tribute for the Nine Kings. The villagers try to attack the peregrinator, but he uses the magic feathers of his cloak to defeat them. The narrator, meanwhile, is being scorched by the Furnace (their name for the sun). This ultimately allows the narrator to take the magic from the peregrinator and defend his village.

Final thoughts: A fascinating world where the people hide from the sun in ravines because it is so hot. There seemed to be a tie between the people and birds. I couldn’t tell if the people were bird-like or just adopted bird idioms into their speech and lifestyle because the birds provide much of the needs of their life. An interesting twist on a standard defend-your-home story.

Title comes from: The stranger who came to the town was a peregrinator, covered in feathers and dealing justice from the Nine Kings. It’s perhaps a play on peregrine falcon, since he was covered in feathers and a predator, and peregrination, which means to walk around. He thought the villagers beneath him and could care less what they wanted.

 

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Annex by Benjanun Sridaungkaew

I’m late getting this post up because things were a bit crazy around the house today. Last night, I decided to do a bit of plumbing work at 8pm. I figured it would be a quick and easy task to finish up the weekend. Ha! Instead, I made a pipe leak everywhere and the only shut-off valve that worked was for the whole house. Luckily, I have an awesomely handy father who was willing to drop everything and come fix things this morning. Even so, I had to keep the kids on task homeschooling while making sure my father had everything he needed to repair the problem. Needless to say, blog posts get a short shrift at that point. But, everything is fixed, the water is back on, and I have a short story from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology.

Published: April 2013 in Clarkesworld

Genre: science fiction

Length: 12 pages

Setting: the planet Samutthewi, far future

Summary: As the Costeya Hegemony moves to take over another planet, Lykesca has plans to subvert the populace. She enlists the help of Esithu to create a viral message that could be carried along the official data feed to create a new reality.

Final thoughts: I had a hard time following the plotline of this story. There was too much going on and all of it seemed confusing. Esithu was undergoing surgery to become androgynous and multi-bodied. At the same time, we have the technical aspects of the mind hack Lykesca was planning. Lykesca had some long-term plan in place, but I never really did figure out what she was working for, which made it difficult for me to figure out what was happening and why. There may be some cultural differences I’m missing, but this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Title comes from: It was the name of a song released as the vector for the mind hack.

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Short Stories by Jeremy Sim

It’s short fiction Monday, and my rotation means it’s time to read the next author in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology, two stories by Jeremy Sim. If you’re interested, you can read both stories online – just follow the link at the magazine name.

by Darryl Knickrehm

by Darryl Knickrehm

Fleep

Published: January, 2013 in Waylines Magazine

Genre: science fiction

Length: 15 pages

Setting: Pulua Ubin (in Southeast Asia), near future

Summary: Nicholas and Boon run a small, two-room hotel on Pulua Ubin. It’s not as popular as they had hoped, but they’re mostly making do. Things get better, though, when a family of brindlefarbs show up. They’re thermivores, which means they turn everything in the room to ice every night, and the downstairs guests aren’t too pleased. But, Nicholas and Boon keep everyone happy and the hotel running smoothly.

Final thoughts: A fun story in a unique setting. It definitely felt foreign, and like a place I’d want to visit – off the beaten track. The slang the characters used helped put me in the place as well. Nicholas quotes the aliens (you can see what they look like in the illustration) an enormous price for their stay, which he thinks will solve all their financial woes. Unfortunately, the big payday doesn’t come through. But, even so, karma sets them up to receive good things in the future.

Title comes from: It’s the only thing the adult brindlefarb can say. Amazing what you can get across without speaking the language, though.

Addressing the Manticore

Published: March 2013 in Crossed Genres 2.0 Magazine

Genre: fantasy

Length:

Setting: Singapore, present day

Summary: Our narrator is a high-school student and he’s losing his first love, Huiling. She’s going to England, and he’s afraid he’s lost the love of his life. Yes, they might fight, and she isn’t as smart as he is, but they are the only ones who can see each other’s summonings. That counts for something, right?

Final thoughts: Again, a sweet story that has an interesting setting. Both kids are worried about passing their O-level tests to figure out where they’re going to go to school. At the same time, they’re falling in love and teasing each other with their summonings. Our narrator is the smarter of the two, but Huiling has the bigger, more impressive summonings. Of course, she can only do evil creatures, but what does he care? And then, they have one last fight and she’s off to England. He tries to send her one last message with his biggest summoning ever, but he’s not even sure she sees it. It does end on a hopeful note, and made me sigh a bit (in a good way) at the end.

Title comes from: One of Huiling’s favorite summonings when she was mad was a manticore

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