Lots of clever british humor. Unfortunately, the ending was understated and anti-climactic. It made me think of telling a british friend a thrilling t...moreLots of clever british humor. Unfortunately, the ending was understated and anti-climactic. It made me think of telling a british friend a thrilling tale of danger that ends happily and having the british friend respond "well, that's alright then."
It was too serious a topic to be likened to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which is how I was advised to read it.) It was too silly a treatment. In all ways important, it utterly failed to be compelling or funny. I let it sit on my desk for weeks without reading it. I like Gaiman, but I can't remember reading much Pratchett... I wonder if there's a reason for that omission.(less)
Heavy handed preaching from the pulpet, this letter to the editor attempts to say something about female adolescence, growing up and fitting in.
Summar...moreHeavy handed preaching from the pulpet, this letter to the editor attempts to say something about female adolescence, growing up and fitting in.
Summary: Every girl has a pony. Every pony has three fantastic traits. Every girl must sacrifice two of the three traits as the girl grows up. In this story, TheOtherGirls that the FMC wants to hang out with make her give up all three traits and in the end the Pony dies. Then, because she doesn't have a pony, TheOtherGirls reject her.
The story can be summed up with a single line:
"You give up everything to fit in, and then you have nothing."
I expected to find a feminist argument break out in the comments at the Tor website where the story can be found for free. I was amused by Response #51 (because I fully expected it) where the commentor suggested the story should be re-written with a protagonist who told TheOtherGirls were they could stick it. I'm surprised the typical victim mentality argument didn't break out.(less)
The 24 Hour Brother A well written piece about a boy who is born, grows up, grows old and dies, with an unfortunate conclusion. (view spoiler)[Joe is on...moreThe 24 Hour Brother A well written piece about a boy who is born, grows up, grows old and dies, with an unfortunate conclusion. (view spoiler)[Joe is one of those babies that grow up too fast. Not in the sense that they're acting older than they really are, maturing emotionally faster than they do physically. Literally growing up too fast. In twenty-four hours Joe is born, grows up, grows old and dies.
The piece is fast paced and has several moving moments. The kinds of events you might expect if someone's life were to flash before their eyes before death. Christopher Barzak does an impressive job of encapsulating life in this short work, but the ending leaves something to be desired.
A story is change, or so I hear frequently. From Joe's perspective, or perhaps the parents, a lot has changed. Joe was born, he grew up, grow old and died. From the secondary POV, Lewis, Joe's older brother (who ages normally), nothing changes at all...or at least, nothing seems to have changed. Lewis runs away from the experience rather than embracing it.
Lewis is so traumatized by the experience he refuses to go to the funeral. He stays home, plays video games, and avoids instead of engaging the tragedy of Joe's short life. Lewis' brief philosophical consideration of life is truncated with closing phrases like "And for the rest of my life, or at least the next twenty-four hours", "I wouldn't be able to stand it ... until I got up to go back to school again two mornings later", and "I made myself finally, decisively, peacefully forget" it feels like a missed opportunity to explore the depths of emotion packed into the only life Joe had available to him. (hide spoiler)]
Faithful City by Michael Pevzner Creepy yet compelling story about a boy who is summoned to the City to learn its secrets. (view spoiler)[This is the kind of work that I think of when I think of Apex Magazine. Sadly, there's a typo in the first paragraph: "I have no need of burrowed emotions; by own are more than enough for me."
The rest of the piece is tantalizing. It hints throughout at the true nature of the Faithful City, but is never absolutely clear until the end. (It does resolve the story, giving the reader the truth in the final sentence.)
Our MC (main character) is a boy who hears music. When this happens, people are drawn to the City. The world has been damaged by some great catastrophe, and myth says the City was built to protect the worthy. Myth also says that those summoned by the City are worthy of being saved by the City. The MC's brother Ra was summoned to the City, so the MC hopes to see his brother there.
I don't want to spoil the journey for you, but the story ends in a way that gives me shivers.
The Yellow Dressing Gown Sarah Monette I struggled to finish it, and failed. (view spoiler)[Punctuation in this piece is decorative, frequently provided to create dramatic pauses in the prose but not to improve clarity. The antagonist of the piece, Michael Overton is overdone. The second sentence has six adjectives to describe him. Six. I feel like the author spends the majority of the first four pages (800 or so words) talking about how horrible he is so that when he dies, hopefully you’ll feel happy about it. The excess was unnecessary; I was ready for him to be dead after the first paragraph.
The third sentence has five commas. The fifth sentence uses the word "indefatigable" twice, and the usage is repetitive. The fifth sentence is where I begin to realize that I simply do not like the author’s prose:
"We were all indefatigable trophy hunters when it came to acquisitions, but none was as indefatigable as Overton, who spent every weekend attending estate sales and coming through antique stores, and who spent many of his weekdays arguing with Dr. Starkweather about the budge for Decorative Arts."
This forty-seven word sentence is separated in to three clauses by two commas (and two conjunctions). To make matters worse, the paired commas do not create a clause that can be neatly removed without destroying sentence meaning.
By the end of the first paragraph I clearly understand that Overton is to be hated, the narrator is quite clear on this point. Conversely, the only thing I know about the narrator is that he (or she) is a colleague of Overton’s. The only thing I know about Dr. Starkweather is that Overton argues with him. It’s implied, but not stated, that Starkweather is the museum’s director.
The start of the second paragraph introduces us to Mr. Lucent. It’s official: we have character soup. And by the end of the second paragraph, the only new information I’ve obtained is that the museum has something to do with “Eighteenth Century Afternoon Dress” (why is this capitalized?) which is, the author writes, “of interest only to specialists.” Too right (sorry!)
By the end of the third paragraph, we’re given Overton’s only virtue turned sin: “Overton never gave up.” But I did.
I skimmed the rest of the piece, just so that I could decide whether or not to give up. (You already know that answer.) The dress doesn’t appear until page 4 (which isn’t horrible, but we’ve spent 4 pages on the horrible Mr Overton, which is three pages too many.) The Narrator’s name doesn’t appear until page 5 (of the Kindle version, which since the piece is 14 pages on my Kindle and 3043 words per the header, that calculates out to be about 1000 words in to the story.) I found the author used the word “extant” incorrectly: “But what makes Overton think the dressing gown is still extant?”This should have been written: “But what makes Overton think the dressing gown is extant?” (Why? Because extant means “still in existence”, so you can’t say “is still extant”. It would be like saying “the dressing gown is still still in existence?”)
By the time we reach the end of the story, Overton has become quite paranoid. His paranoia might be construed as syphilitic dementia (like the previous owner of the yellow dress) except that when he’s found dead, exsanguinated, his eyes are missing.
“It was not the dressing gown they wanted.” We’re told, as the last line.
I skimmed the poetry. I laughed at the non-fiction piece about Christmas. The interview was interesting.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)