Tag Archives: mythical creatures

A Bird, A Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu by Stephen Lickman

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published:January, 2017 in Mothership Zeta: Issue 2

Genre: alternate history fantasy

Setting: Japan, post-WWII

Summary: Our narrator is a Tengu, a mythical Japanese bird soldier. Japan has been conquered, so he’s trying to make a living as a detective. Really, his goal is to make enough money to drink himself into oblivion. But, he’s been hired by a murder of jungle crows to recover a Buddha that was stolen from Crow Castle at the end of the war. He’s slipping into kyodatsu – a general state of depression because Japan lost that can be seen in people across multiple every aspect of Japanese society. However, the crows shame him into trying to recover the Buddha.

Final thoughts: Interesting because of the setting and new mythology. Our narrator was transformed into a Tengu to work off a debt to karma. He’s not doing a very good job at it at the beginning of the story. He’s slipping into despair, like so many people around him. He won’t even fly anymore – the skies are for the victors. But, he decides to do something instead and recover the Buddha and even takes to the sky to do so. We are left hanging – the thief has taken a ship to America, but he’s going to chase her. He’s got a purpose again in life.

Title comes from: The bird is our narrator – a crow-like creature; the broad is the thief of the Buddha; the kyodatsu is the state of mind of everyone around our narrator.

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Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

This is the second book in the Immortals series, that started with Wild Magic. Miss Adventure downloaded the audiobook and played it for me on the way to gymnastics practices. I ended up finishing it on my own.

Published: 1994

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 182 pages

Setting: the province of Dunlath within Tortall, soon after the events of Wild Magic Continue reading

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The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

This is the second book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series that finally showed up from the library. The kids and I fought over who got to read it first. Miss Adventure and I ended up sharing, and losing each other’s bookmarks regularly in the process

Published: 2016

Genre: YA urban fantasy

Length: 459 pages

Setting: Asgard, Alfheim, Jutenheim, and Midgard, six weeks after the events of The Sword of Summer Continue reading


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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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Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

The family took a quick trip to Toronto just before Thanksgiving. It’s only about a three-hour drive, but we needed something to listen to. My husband found this book and asked if it sounded interesting. I was thrilled to hear it was by Tamora Pierce, since I’d loved the other two series I’d read by her, The Song of the Lioness, and the Beka Cooper trilogy.

Published: 1992

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 362 pages

Setting: Tortall, soon after the events of Lioness Rampant Continue reading

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