This week's stories read include: Rich Larson, Jake Kerr, An Owomoyela, Beth Cato, NE Walker, Nghi Vo, Michelle Muenzler, Llinos Cathryn Thomas, and Jocelyn Koehler.
"Let's Take This Viral" by Rich Larson, Lightspeed, March 2013
What could you call this? Virus Punk? Bio Punk? Fast, colourful, with a familiar aesthetic, though I do wish many of these stories would get past the "party hard, die harder" pastiche. I read something similar in Lightspeed just the other week (except that was "Drug Punk" maybe. Too many punks...). Enough of a spin on an old theme, with the addition of gender fluidity to make it shine.
"Perspective" by Jake Kerr, EscapePod, March 14, 2013
Not the best I've heard from EscapePod. Badly drawn characters I couldn't connect with, a refrigerated mother, yet another father-son bonding story. Lazy metaphors and world building. I wanted to like it for the final premise, but it felt far too selfish.
"In Metal, In Bone" by An Owomoyela, Night Shade Online, March 22, 2013
Story of the week. Short, punchy sentences that mirror the violence. An over-arching sense of breathlessness, the hope and hopelessness of war intermingled. Owomoyela makes compassionate portrayals of characters we're not supposed to care about, bringing life to faces our media doesn't want us to see.
"Maps" by Beth Cato, Daily Science Fiction, February 14, 2013
A snappy short with a great final sentence. An excellent metaphor about shedding the shackles of fate and destiny summed up quickly and gracefully.
"Face Off" by NE Walker, Cosmos, January 31, 2013
A lazy story probably engaging for those who love their SF packed with pop culture references and nostalgia. However, as with most of the rewriting of history, this story fails to reference any woman pop culture heroes. I have a hard time imagining a metamorphosing technology that was incapable of replicating a woman's face against a blank slate, and the technology in this story seemed quite capable of it (and no, that the blank slate presents as male is not a good enough excuse). Once more reiterating that iconic women's personalities are not interesting enough to even be remembered or recast in our future.
"Shadows Cast By Moonlight" by Nghi Vo, Crossed Genres Magazine #2, February 2013
A very satisfying read, with oodles of flow and style. While the twist is evident early on, it did not detract from the graceful open-ended finish. Lots of nice aesthetic touches and world-building. Keen drawing of characters and place all in compact sentences. Nicely done.
"The Life Expectancy of Cockroaches" by Michelle Muenzler, Crossed Genres Magazine #4, April 2013
A fascinating, if icky premise, handled with dry wit. "What better symbol of love than the eternal cockroach?" is one of the best lines I've read this year. An easily guessed finish, but short and snappy enough it didn't suffer. An excellent Big Idea. Recommended.
"The Seventh Son" by Llinos Cathryn Thomas, Crossed Genres Magazine #4, April 2013
Another quick read from the April CG, with a lot of warmth. A gender transition handled with grace. Like it a lot.
"Message in a Bottle" by Jocelyn Koehler, Crossed Genres Magazine #4, April 2013
This one takes a bit to get going, and stumbles along the way with repetition, but hits it's stride midway for a snappier, cleaner finish. Does call on the old trope of the exceptional, selfish scientist (who knows best for all humanity), but also mixed with a conservationalist streak. A decent pro debut.