Monday, April 29, 2013

365 Project: Stories Read as of 28/4/2013

Stories read include Lane Robins, Hugh Howey, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Ada Hoffman, Sean Vivier, and Karin Tidbeck x2.

"Road Test" by Lane Robins, Strange Horizons, April 8, 2013
A neat piece of urban fantasy, with an interesting take on city magic. I especially like that the female protag drove (pun intended) the story; she was cool, sex positive, and had a thing for cars. Very satisfying ending.

"A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain" by Karin Tidbeck, Lightspeed, April 2013
Ever since Tidbeck's "Jagannath" came to my notice, I've been seeing her work pop up all over the place. This week I found two new stories which I devoured immediately. "Fine Show" didn't work for me as well as some of her other pieces, but it still contained her cool, spiky weirdness, a tone I just adore in her work. The multi-layers of this piece are great for picking apart in regards to whose gaze is being served in literature/performance. Leaves one with a sense of disquiet at the end that is hard to put the finger on as to why (another superb Tidbeck trait).

"Sing" by Karin Tidbeck,, April 17, 2013
I enjoyed this story much more - a doomed inter-species love story, that takes into account the effect of gravity upon a displaced people's physiology. There's an element of body horror which had me squirming, but again it is devastatingly pretty in that cool Tidbeck way. I love it when an author is successful at communicating the truly alien, and it's done well here.

"Deep Blood Kettle" by Hugh Howey, Lightspeed, April 2013
A mix of alien invasion and apocalyptic meteor strike, this story is a fairly simple one with a lot of heart. Good flow, with not a word wasted.

"The Ink Readers of Doi Saket" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt,, April 24, 2013
A lovely Thai fantasy tale, that successfully weaves urban and rural themes with myth and legend, making magic out of the mundane.

"Feasting Alone"  by Ada Hoffmann, AE, April 2013
I've been noticing a tendency in post-human stories to have a revulsion towards bodies. This doesn't surprise me considering our socio-political lean towards weaponizing bodies and ableism. There are more successful attempts at celebrating a return to the enjoyment of food than this piece. As with a lot of stories there's too much either-or here. Perhaps it's a function of it's length, but it doesn't quite get far enough into discussing the ascension of bodies and our cultural and physical attachment to food.

"The Chosen One Can't Lose" by Sean Vivier, Daily Science Fiction, April 17, 2013
A very clever structure! The story at it's heart is simple, but it's simplicity also illustrates the cliche's of the genre. This story invites a second reading if you play it like the "Choose Your Own Adventure" story of the 80s, and upon that second reading (or first, if you read it straight) you discover how the structure is a brilliant parallel of the theme AND exposes the failings of the CYOA stories so popular in the 80s. As an 80s kid, this send up of the genre AND the inevitability of The Male Hero's Quest really appealed to me. The "appearing sword" was definitely a nice snark on Star Wars.

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