Stories read this week include Sunny Moraine, Rachel Swirsky, Sophia McDougall, Sophie Clarke, and Damien Walters Grintalis.
"I Tell Thee All, I Can No More" by Sunny Moraine, Clarkesworld, July 2013
Be prepared for a very weird extended metaphor, but here Moraine attempts an examination of life under a surveillance state. A sub-section of society has discovered how to have sex with surveillance drones. One presumes that in this world, the literal state physical size of a drone has changed, or in a metaphorical sense the drone is a stand in for the expression of sexuality through the digital medium (social media etc), that of being seen through the camera eye, the body data broken down into ones and zeroes. It could be both interpretations as need be.
In a world where drones are becoming a realized threat (for example, the average person now has access to them, and there have been reports of men using them for peeping tom purposes) and camera surveillance in many corners of life, Moraine's story speaks of an Orwellian 1984 realized. A very timely piece, considering Snowden's whistleblowing on PRISM.
"Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings" by Rachel Swirsky, Apex Magazine, July 2, 2013
I am not a horror or gore fan, finding it very hard to read. This story is no different, but I pushed my way through because Swirsky is incredible and it held a train-wreck fascination. I couldn't look, but I couldn't look away. This means I skimmed over the words as lightly as possible, and actively attempted to erase the more shocking imagery from my mind. The story of a man trapped in his house by his seeming zombiefied wife and friends is truly horrific, spattered with viscera and violent sexual imagery, but at the same time is superbly crafted. One really hates the protagonist, but it is a very clever twist at the end that makes you realize the biggest horror is the protag's humanity. It takes a brilliant writer to see me through horrible imagery to allow me to appreciate the literary worthiness. Really not for the faint of heart.
"Golden Apple" by Sophia McDougall, Lightspeed, July 2013
I must not be the only one who picked up the reference to the tale of "Diana and the Golden Apples". A simple, well worn premise of saving a child from illness is saved by the interesting (if implausible) science and turn about from a telegraphed mawkish end. The characterization is fairly thin, relying on standard heterosexual parenting tropes. Perhaps the story would have fared better if told from the daughter's perspective. Still, a very sweet story.
"Dare" by Sophie Clarke, The Future Fire Issue 26, July 2013
Another timely story, very Gilead-esque, echoing much of the political language around the lack of bodily autonomy espoused by anti-choice legislation currently being crow-barred through in America, and the language of victim blaming in rape and sexual assault cases. Maybe a little too close in theme to Atwood, but I could appreciate the narrative from the young girls perspective which is often missing from stories about such dystopias.
"Melancholia in Bloom" by Damien Walters Grintalis, Daily Science Fiction, June 28, 2013
A simple yet effective magical realism story about Alzheimer's and memory. The story discusses the power of the senses - scent, touch, sight - to trigger memory, and how nostalgia can be a powerful tool for sufferers. Grantalis manages to deftly obscure the true power of the memory box - did the rose petals really contain the magic of one final memory, or was that the sufferer relinquishing her hold on reality and saying goodbye to each memory one final time? Very touching, and something those close to sufferers will identify with.