Tag Archives: novelette

Planetary Scouts by Stephen Sottong

I didn’t get a weekend post up since I spent very little time at my house this weekend. My daughter had her first gymnastics meet of the season and I visited my sister for her birthday. But, it’s a new week, and time to read more! Since it’s Monday, it’s time for some short fiction. Today’s story from the 2014 Campbellian Anthology was a bit longer than most, making it into the novelette length.

Published: 2013 in Writers of the Future Volume 29

Genre: science fiction

Length: 43 pages

Setting: various planets, far future

Summary: Our narrator, Aidan Pastor, is a veteran Planetary Scout with a new partner fresh out of training. Pastor would like to get to his 25 missions and out of the Scouts, so he preps Lester as well as he can for the upcoming missions. They successfully navigate several tricky planets (if they weren’t tricky, the unmanned probe data would have been sufficient) before they nearly don’t make it off another planet.

Final thoughts: This was an enjoyable read. You’re thrown right into the middle of the story (the first mission we see is Pastor’s 19th mission), and there’s plenty of history and atmosphere that inform the story. We get the excitement of going to new planets and trying to figure out how it’s going to try to kill them, and even a bit of character development. (Not too much – this is a short story, after all.) I liked the end. It wasn’t a happy ending, but it was still a hopeful ending.

Title comes from: It was the job of the characters we follow.

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Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang

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Translated by Ken Liu

Published: January/February 2015 in Uncanny (you can read it free at the link provided)

Genre: science fiction

Length: novelette (I only read it online)

Setting: Beijing, some time in the future

Interest: It won the 2016 Hugo award for best novelette. Since it was easily read online, I decided to read and review this story instead of my usual short fiction. Continue reading

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The Grande Complication by Christopher Reynaga

Published: in Writers of the Future Volume 29

Genre: speculative fiction – you could make a case for steampunk possibly, since it has the right setting

Length: 22 pages

Setting: London, probably early 1900s/late 1800s

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology Continue reading

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Oh Give Me a Home by Adam Rakunas

Published: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2013

Genre: science fiction

Length: 24 pages

Setting: California, near future

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Our protagonist, Brewster, is breeding/genetically engineering mini-bison as an alternative to genetically engineered cows. Amagco, the main agricultural company, is suing him for infringing on their patents, although it’s really just because he’s providing an alternative to their cows and associated technology. Brewster vows to fight them, although they have many more resources than he does.

Final thoughts: Oooh – genetic engineering in the near-present day. Don’t read too many stories about that topic. I think it was well done, even if it is a thinly veiled complaint against Monsanto. What happens when one company owns all the seeds/animals/antibiotics/fertilizer you need to provide food? They earn a LOT of money, and the regular person suffers. An interesting introduction to the subject for people who don’t pay attention to agriculture.

Title comes from: It’s the first line in the song “Home on the Range” – “Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam.” Brewster is ranching bison (which are the same as buffalo) in the story.

If you’re interested in purchasing the magazine, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind by Sarah Pinsker

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. Weather was gorgeous here (near 70 and sunny, whereas the day after was 40s, rainy and 30mph winds). We also hosted the family for Easter egg hunting and dinner, so my house was full and I was tired by the time everyone left. Needless to say, blog posts get a little neglected after such a day. But, here’s a short story review that you can go and read yourself if you’re interested. Enjoy!

Published: July 2013 in Strange Horizons (you can read it for free at the link provided)

Genre: science fiction (reality with aliens)

Length: 24 pages

Setting: some indeterminate northern city (it snows in the winter), recent past

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We start the story in the household of an older couple, Millie and George. George has just had a stroke, and Millie reminisces about their life together. George was an architect with many dreams. Most of those dreams went into building a fantastical tree house for the children. George stopped dreaming in 1951. Millie never got the whole story, but it seems that aliens really did crash in Roswell and he was tapped to create an unbreakable prison for them. It devastated him and he relived that feeling with his stroke.

Final thoughts: A sweet story centered around a pretty standard trope – aliens really did land in Roswell. The twist to the story is George designed a blind spot into the prison (Millie noticed it on the original plans she found hidden in the kids’ treehouse) so perhaps the aliens were able to escape. I’m not sure I buy the fact that Millie was able to easily see the blind spot, but no one in the government would notice it and fix the problem while the prison was being built. Even so, it was a delightful little story about a couple growing old together told in flashbacks. I’m not used to seeing stories written from an elderly perspective. The author also had a gay grandson (and it’s not that a big deal was made of the character. He just happened to have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend. He was also the one family member that typically was around the help Millie.)

Title comes from: Not an obvious one. I’m going to guess the joy was the family and relationship Millie and George built together. The abyss behind was the prison George had to build for the aliens that he never talked about.

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Welcome to the Tribe by Grimaldi

Subtitle: Tib & Tumtum #1

Published: 2011 in French, 2013 in the U.S.

Genre: early graphic novel

Length: 48 pages

Setting: prehistoric times around a tribe’s village

Interest: I saw it reviewed on a blog I read. We haven’t read any graphic novels in a while, so I picked it up from the library. Continue reading

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The War of Peace by Trina Marie Phillips

by M. Wayne Miller

by M. Wayne Miller

Published: November 2012 and January 2013 in Orson Scott Car’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (you can read a bit of the story at the link)

Genre: science fiction

Length: 37 pages

Setting: a foreign planet, some time in the future

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Ardam is the Paramount of the five Cranther Families. As he brings his Families to the breeding grounds to begin the Birthing Ceremony for this year’s crop of children, he discovers that humans have built a village on his breeding grounds. Unless the buildings and roads are removed, the children won’t be able to sprout from the ground and no new children will be produced. It could be the end of the Families. Ardam approaches the humans to reason with them to move their houses and allow the children to be born. While the mayor is sympathetic, there is an aggressive faction of humans that doesn’t think they should move for some lousy aliens. It nearly comes to war, but Ardam and the mayor are able to work together with minimal bloodshed.

Final thoughts: Phillips provides an interesting alien, and she kept sprinkling details about their anatomy and culture throughout the story. I spent much of the time trying to picture the creatures. They sounded mostly insectoid, which would definitely provoke some consternation among humans if a giant band of huge insects suddenly showed up surrounding their new village. The aliens also had an easy way to understand new cultures with the Exchange of Body ceremony. It would make meeting new creatures much easier if we could get inside someone’s head in that culture. Of course, humans (at least some of them) still try to mess everything up, choosing violence first instead of diplomacy. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.

Title comes from: Ardam worked very hard to avoid an all-out war between them and the humans, although he was willing to back up his diplomacy with muscle for just in case.

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