Kane took a story that she'd originally released on a blog, expanded it a bit, and re-released it on Smashwords. It shows the terror that one woman fe...moreKane took a story that she'd originally released on a blog, expanded it a bit, and re-released it on Smashwords. It shows the terror that one woman felt at the beginning of Haunted Week, despite being a member of the Church that gave her and her three colleagues tools to fight the ghosts that were suddenly appearing. Because she also then realized the seriousness of the terror they were facing. And that her own failing health could be the one thing her friends wouldn't be able to overcome. It's a quick little story, but it did a good job of conveying this brave woman and the experience of those first moments of Haunted Week and how truly horrifying it was.(less)
Super fun, I'd pay for a serial like this from a handful of my favorite authors any day of the week, it's so fun to look forward to the installments,...moreSuper fun, I'd pay for a serial like this from a handful of my favorite authors any day of the week, it's so fun to look forward to the installments, to anticipate what's going to happen next. It's funny because usually I want the story all at once. i don't read preview chapters of books I know already know I'm going to read, I don't like being left on a cliff of anticipate for months. But a serial with daily or weekly installments is a whole different ball of wax, it's an event and a game and a lot of fun. Plus I'll take my Stacia Kane stories any way that I can get them!(less)
It was a good story about Carol, a woman growing up in the second half of the twentieth century and the challenges she faced in wanting to become a ro...moreIt was a good story about Carol, a woman growing up in the second half of the twentieth century and the challenges she faced in wanting to become a rocket scientist and astronaut. She was hearing the same exciting messages that every other kid in America was hearing, on Disney specials and from her parents who were scientists, so why wouldn't she want to have an exciting career and go to the moon? The world was changing, but slowly. I enjoyed the way that the story wove the timeline of real world moments in history and experiences that influenced a so many people into the intimate fictional story of this woman and her family. Of course there were major rockets being launched, the first trip to the moon, but what really struck me was those Disney specials about space that I'd never heard of. It's wild to read about (of course I looked them up) the collaboration between Disney and Wernher von Braun, the former Nazi head of our rocket program, to produce these specials, and that 42 million people watched them. The challenges that Carol faced were well summed up by the quote that she read at one point by von Braun (who was her father's emotional nemesis in the story) when he was asked about women becoming astronauts in the future and he replied that they were reserving 110 pounds of payload for recreational equipment. Yup, that really happened. Which highlights the other thing that makes the story work well. Carol's journey wasn't a piece of cake. She didn't just get into the right school and persevere through sheer cussedness and triumph because she was through a straight uphill path. She hit roadblocks, she felt like quitting, she did quit, the path zigzagged, she dealt with too much family tragedy (who among us hasn't) and in the end she did persevere and in the end she did succeed. The author made her into someone I could relate to, even though I'm certainly not a rocket scientist or an astronaut. And that's what made the story successful.
I am amused by the introduction by the acquiring editor for Tor.com, Ellen Datlow, when she said that the story is science fiction by association. Because there isn't anything speculative about the story. It's science and it's fiction, and it was certainly enjoyable to me as someone who generally prefers science fiction or fantasy. But even though it's a good story, it shouldn't qualify for any speculative fiction awards, as they seem to be aware by adding that disclaimer.(less)
I've been reading a lot of more serious short fiction lately, so I was really in the mood for this for a change. Previous anthologies edited by this p...moreI've been reading a lot of more serious short fiction lately, so I was really in the mood for this for a change. Previous anthologies edited by this pair have been very good and full of a great mix of stories. But these all pretty much blended together and just weren't as fun and charming as they should have been. It was only stubbornness and a lazy sense of momentum that made me bother to finish the book. The only stories that were really good were Seanan McGuire's and Scott Sigler's. Even some favorite authors' stories were just OK. It was just a really mediocre book.(less)
This collection was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and a Locus Award. In addition, the last story in the collection, Black Helicopters> was no...moreThis collection was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and a Locus Award. In addition, the last story in the collection, Black Helicopters> was nominated for some awards as well, but it was only included in the limited edition of the book so I was unable to read or evaluate it.
So here's the thing. I've been reading a lot of short stories lately, and I realized today that when I finish one that's really good there's a feeling like a little click. I nod my head once and think or say, "Right." There's a feeling of completeness, of something having been said. I didn't get that from any of the stories in this book. None of them clicked. Even the ones I enjoyed didn't end satisfyingly, and it got really frustrating to continue to slog through the book when story after story disappointed me. It's really tough to get me to abandon a book, but at 60% I was just so aware of how many frustrating endings I'd had and how many were ahead of my and I finally skipped to the last story, the title piece. So I read 70% of the book, and I may well go back and read the other few stories at some point. None of the stories were bad. Some were really interesting, some were fun, one was haunting. But none of them ended in a way that was satisfying or that left them being memorable other than for being annoying because the great build up led to naught. Maybe some people will read this and think well she just doesn't understand weird fiction. Maybe not. But I know that this wasn't the book for me. (less)
I got this because The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls by Howard Waldrop was nominated for a Locus Award for best short story in 2014. His story was interesti...moreI got this because The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls by Howard Waldrop was nominated for a Locus Award for best short story in 2014. His story was interesting, but it did thrill me., I think some others in the category are stronger. And the rest of the book didn't do it for me either, even though I'm very into short stories right now. I picked it up several times, read a couple of the stories, but something about the tone of the book wasn't working for me. Maybe it's because our basic idea about Mars has just changed as a culture, it's not the thrilling adventure that it was imagined to be in the '50 and '60, and that reality permeates the stories even when the authors try to set it aside and write something fantastic. I don't know. And now I just saw that the book won the Locus Award for best anthology this year, so what do I know? Obviously some people liked it. And liked the editors, which helps get it picked up and read by more people with a positive frame of mind maybe. Their names got my attention too, their anthologies are usually quite good. But I marked it "partially-read-was-enough".(less)
There were only two series I was still allowing myself to buy, until this came out in hardback. Even if I could rationalize the money, I don't want si...moreThere were only two series I was still allowing myself to buy, until this came out in hardback. Even if I could rationalize the money, I don't want six paperbacks and three hardbacks. But I'm lucky enough to be able to get them from the library and not have to wait a year for the paperback, most people don't have that option. I'm sure the publisher has the profits predicted and figures on coming out ahead.
Anyway, the book was good, as usual. The dogs were great. Owen was, well, a character. I just didn't love that Atticus and Granuaile didn't interact for almost any of the book. I'd rather see a strong couple working together than this artificial being kept apart that too many series do. And because so much of the book was just the three individuals acting alone and their internal monologues, it was a bit more distant that I'm used to from this series. Introspective journal entries after the fact aren't the same as interactive action scenes. I did like having the three points of view and I liked that it enabled the characters to cover the world in a new way, but it did have a trade-off.(less)
It's cute, and with the size of it you certainly know when you see it that you aren't getting much, so you can't be too surprised that it's slight and...moreIt's cute, and with the size of it you certainly know when you see it that you aren't getting much, so you can't be too surprised that it's slight and a quick read. It has much more to read than many add-on books to YA series. With the significant added bonus that 20% of the cost of the sale of this book (and Quidditch Through the Ages) goes to Comic Relief UK. Rowling and Professor Dumbledore both wrote a bit about the charity and why it's important and how the money is used. Dumbledore's foreword was probably the best part of the book, explaining things from both the wizard and muggle perspectives, very funny. The rest of the book was fine, it just would have been so much better with pictures, that's what would have made a book about fantastic mostly made-up beasts super cool. But now there's going to be a movie about this book, whatever that means since the book doesn't have a plot, so at least we'll get to see some of the creatures. I hope it includes more of the ones that Rowling made up completely and not just the familiar beasts like unicorns or gnomes. (less)
I went on a bit of a Cat Rambo reading festival last night after I discovered her in Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 89. I'd heard her name here and there...moreI went on a bit of a Cat Rambo reading festival last night after I discovered her in Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 89. I'd heard her name here and there before but never gotten around to reading anything by her before. But I've been spending the summer discovering sci-fi and fantasy short fiction so it was time to start getting to know her. So far I like everything I've read, some just more emphatically than others. This one was very good. It explores how darn vulnerable love makes everyone in a very, well, visual and tangible way. She created an interesting world with a simple set-up, using the idea of the multi-verse to make it work. And it works. I found the emotions to be very raw and real. The china people in the story did remind me a bit of Thomas Olde Heuvelt's The Boy Who Cast No Shadow, which also dealt with some very raw emotions and desperate vulnerability. I guess the idea of literally being so easily broken is a powerful metaphor. This story was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2012 for best Short Story. It's a good choice. (less)
I liked the woman in the story, of course, it's impossible to resist a clever tinkerer. The guy was a schmuck but typical for the times. The story was...moreI liked the woman in the story, of course, it's impossible to resist a clever tinkerer. The guy was a schmuck but typical for the times. The story was fine but I didn't believe the end at all, I don't believe the guy in this story was capable of weeping, and not over this situation, he didn't get it all along, he wouldn't suddenly get it at the end.(less)
I just recently got into short fiction and I'm constantly amazed at how much wonderful speculative fiction is available (for free) on the internet. Cl...moreI just recently got into short fiction and I'm constantly amazed at how much wonderful speculative fiction is available (for free) on the internet. Clarkesworld seems to consistently be one of the best magazines around, publishing both big name authors and giving new writers a boost up. And many of their stories are available as podcasts as well, a really cool bonus. All of the stories in this issue were very enjoyable, it was a good one.
The Contemporary Foxswife by Yoon Ha Lee was very good. She's been one of my favorites since I read one of her stories in an anthology recently, she's consistently interesting and manages to touch my mind and heart in a short space. I liked the blend of sci-fi and fantasy in this story. It's about what happens to mythological creatures who continue to survive into modern times, similar to many urban fantasy stories that I enjoy so much, but instead of being current, it's projected into the future. I didn't love the use of they and their for singular pronouns for the roommate, I found it confusing, but I applaud the idea of plunging ahead into just using gender neutral language, it's the only way it's going to become accepted, just like many other things have become accepted in part because we've gotten used to seeing them in our fiction. Eventually consensus will be reached or some forms will just start to be used most often. But if you look at sentences like, "My roommate's a slob, but they won't hurt you. Their name is Osthen-of-White-Falcon," maybe you can see why my mind jumps to thinking there's more than one person being talked about when I see they and their. But this debate won't be solved here and I know that many people are obviously in favor of these words for good reasons.
I liked N.K. Jemisin's post-apocalyptic fantasy story, Stone Hunter, well enough, the girl was easy sympathize with and the world was interesting. I just didn't quite get what the stone-eater was, it was a little too mysterious for me.
Soul's Bargain by Juliette Wade was very good. I was right there in it right from the start, which can be hard for a fantasy short story. The character made me think of Judi Dench, but that was probably because she was strong, feisty and a bit funny, and because I saw a movie with her in it the afternoon before I read the story. But she really was quite well portrayed, she was a very interesting character with a lot of depth and she made me look up more about the author and her writing, hoping there were more stories about this world or this character available. (See the author's website if you're interested, the answer is sort of.) Anyway, the little bits of humor were good additions to the story, it lightened it up. So many of these shorts stories are so darn serious! This was a serious story but one or two quips were appreciated and created a richer character as well. It was really a very good story that I won't soon forget.
The Halfway House At the Heart of Darkness by William Browning Spencer, what a melodramatic title! I enjoyed the story. It was a little preachy, but it had a nice old-fashioned sci-fi tone somehow but with a very modern idea that's even more believable now than it was when the story was published in 1998. People are addicted to virtual reality and companies have won the right to maintain their customer bases aggressively against alienation by third party services. Which means they can kidnap people who are at rehab at gunpoint. Not to mention what they will do to the rehab counselors to convince them that their job is in vain. I'm sure drug companies would jump on this bandwagon too. Scary stuff. Thank goodness for our tough heroine who finally learns how to get a rush from something out than virtual reality. Gold Mountain by Chris Roberson was an unsettling story. Turnabout is fairplay in this alternate history, a thinly veiled account of the Chinese Exclusion Act but told about white people in China instead. If you don't know about this truly appalling part of American history which I only learned about recently and because of speculative fiction, I urge you to look it up. Interestingly, it's come up three or four times in the last year or less, which I take as a good sign, at least writers are talking about it. I just wish it had come up while I was in school. Or sometime on my first forty-two years of life. The story was good, though it stuck very closely to the message so much of it is reverse history. It was interesting for me to realize that this was the same guy who's comic''s I'd occasionally read. I like his stories better.
In the non-fiction section of the magazine was the second part of Susan E. Connolly's attempt to analyze the issue of gender in science fiction publications. This article focused on submissions. There is a link in this article to the first article, which looked at who gets published. Both are very interesting. She also has an article in this magazine about the math behind the analysis if you really want to geek out. It seems to me that so far she's finding some subtle results but no big smoking gun, but from what she's saying she doesn't really have a big enough sample from the months or year that she had to draw from. It would be great if the study could continue, but that's asking a lot from her and all of the people who took a lot of time to answer her questions. I'm looking forward to the third part of her study next month to see what she concludes.
James L. Sutter's essay about tie-in novels was on-point, they don't have to be cheesy and some of the best authors in the business are doing them, so they can often be awesome. Many of those authors are huge fans the series they're writing about just like the people at home are, and are invested in doing it as well as possible. And like many other areas of life, and the speculative fiction community, why the heck are we spending so much time judging each other instead of just enjoying our own things? Yes, he was a bit strident, to use his word, but he was right.
I didn't read the interview with Jeff VanderMeer because I haven't read any of his books.(less)
This Laundry story was very representative of the series. It didn't have quite as much humor as the books maybe, but it had a lot of action, it was cl...moreThis Laundry story was very representative of the series. It didn't have quite as much humor as the books maybe, but it had a lot of action, it was clever and it was fun. And although it was pretty short, it still had some substance. It would be a good way for new readers to get a taste of what the whole thing is about if they wanted to. It's available for free online at Tor.com.(less)
An extremely short little Christmas story, I read it in about three minutes. It's probably of interest only to fans of the series, I'm not sure it wou...moreAn extremely short little Christmas story, I read it in about three minutes. It's probably of interest only to fans of the series, I'm not sure it would make much sense to anyone else or be the story that would intrigue you to try more of the series, but it's short so give it a try maybe. And fans aren't missing anything if they miss it, it's just a cute interlude, nothing substantive. It's bizarre to me that this was nominated for a Hugo award. But it's available on Tor.com if you're interested.(less)
I noticed several Laundry stories when I was adding book five to my to-read list. I thought I might have read this before, but since it was available...moreI noticed several Laundry stories when I was adding book five to my to-read list. I thought I might have read this before, but since it was available online I decided I'd read it again. With my terrible memory it was almost like reading it for the first time, I remembered one big thing (what happened to Daisy) but the rest of it was just as much fun as the first time. I think this might be the best Laundry story, clever and full of action, not too kitchy. Though I do see why I thought whenever I read the books that he was dating himself by using so much current technology. But who'd have thought in 2004 that mentioning a palmtop computer so much was going to be an issue? I remember thinking that my boss was making me nuts by pushing me to figure his out when he got his Palm Pilot back then, it was cutting edge. Anyway, it was a very good story - action, espionage, horror, humor, all the stuff The Laundry is good at.(less)