This week's stories read are from Sandra MacDonald, Andy Duncan, N.K. Jemisin, Barbara Krasnoff, Ken Liu, and Angeli Primlani.
"Searching for Slave Leia" by Sandra MacDonald, Lightspeed, November 2012
I like MacDonald a lot, because she writes about many themes I enjoy. Her "Diana Comet" anthology is fantastic.
In "Searching", MacDonald uses the conceit of episodic television tropes to tell a time travelling tale. The references to 80s pop culture and clever asides about today's SF telly will make any fangirl squee.
"On 20468 Petercook" by Andy Duncan, Tor.com, April 2012
This story has received high praise, and I can understand why - it's told in a very dry, flowing style, mimicking Wodehouse. I'm not a fan of that style, but I gave the story a go because it's very much within the theme of "Menial". I wasn't much of a fan of the transplanting of 20th century blokeish garage humour into a scenario a few hundred years in the future - I want my sociology to change just as much as the technology - but the banter is effortless.
"The You Train" by N.K. Jemisin, Strange Horizons, 3 December 2007
I'll read anything by N.K. Jemisin, I rate her as one of my favourite modern fantasy writers. One of her older stories, I liked the style - told in first person as if having phone conversations or leaving voice mail messages. As with all Jemisin's writing, she effortlessly weaves the fantasy into the everyday - there's magic around every corner. Or should that be down every train tunnel.
"The Didibug Pin" by Barbara Krasnoff, Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, February 2013
This story has a great set up and worldbuilding, but ends far too soon, as if it's an excerpt from a longer piece. I really wanted to see where it went!
"The Perfect Match" by Ken Liu, Lightspeed, December 2012
Ken Liu is becoming the master of the modern SF short form. He has a knack for hitting all the right notes and pacing at just the right time in his stories. While this story plays out in a somewhat formulaic fashion, his Big Idea (people's choices are guided by internal AI's running off a Google/Facebook lookalike) is close enough to the truth to leave the reader uncomfortable at the end. Ken Liu sure knows how to push buttons.
"Snowball The Rabbit is Dead" by Angeli Primlani, Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, February 2013
This one's an odd little beasty - so odd I haven't quite figured it out even a couple days after reading, which is a sign of a good story for me. The menial of the story - a teenager who works in her parents hotel - is a nice backdrop to the oddness of the green alien, dead rabbit, and their relationship. Are green aliens not that unusual in this near future that people don't pay them that much mind? Intriguing!