David's Reviews > Triangulation: Last Contact

Triangulation by Stephen V. Ramey
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's review
Sep 15, 2011

(Review from the author)
bookshelves: my-work
Read from August 14 to September 09, 2011 — I own a copy

They put my name on the COVER! My NAME on the cover! My...

How cool is that?

I'd like this book anyway, but I like it even more with my name on that brilliant blue cover.

It's almost twice as thick as last year's, but still worth a read.

Story by story:

"A Claw from the Western Paradise," by Gwendolyn Clare, is a good start. A dragon tasked with guarding the bones of the ancients must decide what to do when a human he'd rather talk to than eat comes and asks for a single claw.

"The Good Daughter" by Aaron Polson. I will have to read this one again. It deals with a heart-wrenching conundrum, and it mostly does it well, but I get annoyed when writers expect me to accept a hero who more or less shares my values, in a society that does not, without saying why. On the other hand, it may be something that was there that I just missed, because something else that bothered me (which I can't say without giving spoilers) made perfect sense the next morning, after I'd remembered a turn of phrase that made it make total sense.

"Ghost Horses and Dream Dogs" by Shanna Germain. Sheer brilliance. A retired jockey living with the after-images left behind race horses and greyhounds, dreading the record-keeper who will come by and erase a few, to make room for more. It seems like many of the best stories in Triangulaton take you out in the middle of nowhere, without a map, and leave you to find your own way home. And this does it so well.

"The Gold in the Straw" by Amanda C. Davis. Not one of my favorite fairy tales. Not a particularly original twist. And yet, so beautifully written that it still left me saying "Wow."

"The Bright Air That Breathes No Pain" by Eric Schaller. The ending was neither as strong ad I'd hoped nor as weak as I'd feared it would be. But the road to that ending was vivid and believable and fierce, filled with odd observations and metaphors, and sometimes sad and beautiful.

"Boll Weevil" by Nathaniel Lee. I'm not normally a fan of apocalyptic fiction, but this was fun.

“The Customs Shed” by John Walters. A dark, compelling take on the afterlife.

“Ezekiel” by Desmond Warzel. Early American colonists discover a robot from outer space. The period narrative is spot on.

“Ocean Daughters” by Jaime Lee Moyer. She wrote one of my favorite stories in last year's anthology. This year she tells of a woman on the shore, waiting for her fisherman to return. A new take on a classic trope, with a strong female lead.

“City of Bones” by Deborah Walker. Far-future SF about people accustomed to living in cyberspace who use cloned bodies to visit the long-abandoned Earth. Kind of abstract but very intense.

“In Ruins” by Jo-Anne Odell. Four servant mummies have been spending millennia playing board games and looking all over the pyramid for the Books of the Dead that their undertaker hid out of spite, when they must deal with an infestation of archaeologists. This story goes from funny to heroic to deeply touching.

“Lord God Bird” by Sarah Frost. A team traverses parallel universes in search of an extinct bird, but in world after world, they find the bird is extinct. Intriguing.

“Norms” by Cynthia Ward. The title refers simultaneously to a far-future slang term for people who don't have genetic modifications (at a time when almost everyone does) and to norms in the sense of shared cultural values (on which no two characters seem to agree). Different prejudices and values lead the principal characters to different choices and different mistakes, ultimately isolating them all in an unkind city. Thoughtful, disturbing, and very intelligent. And a little gross.

“To Rule, Do Nothing” by Tristan Davenport. A man makes a fortress of a desolate world, so he can keep himself safe from the repercussions of his own act of revenge. Not a personal favorite.

“Zafir the Saudi Superhero” by Madhvi Ramani. This, on the other hand, is my favorite story in the book. A kid seeks superhuman powers so he can avenge his sister's death. Heart-wrenching and well told--and you don't know how it ends. Based on an actual event in which Saudi police let girls burn to death in a dormitory rather than let them be seen outside in their nightgowns.

“Twilight’s Last Gleaming” by H.L.N. Fullergon. Teenagers sit on a rooftop and watch rockets try to get off Earth to escape an alien threat that may, in fact, be a government hoax to cut back on overpopulation. Touching, and really depressing.

“Lack of Charity” by James Beamon. Kept alive by a demon, a man goes on a killing spree until he can find the man who murdered his wife and almost killed him too. Well told and compelling, but kind of predictable.

“To Give the Perfect Dewdrop” by Dawn Lloyd. A spritelike being tries to bring the perfect gift to an indifferent creator. OK.

“The Party” by Christopher N. Nadeau. A convicted killer escapes into a parallel universe by finding the right person to fixate on, but must

“The Reel” Helen Tarzwell's impressive debut publication tells of an ancient fae who abandoned her heritage to marry a bus driver.

“The Last Cyborg” by Mar Yang. I was in Marquette, Michigan, visiting family and friends, when I found out that the lead-in to my story takes place in Michigan and includes an aging beauty queen from Marquette. And the story's good, too. The inventor of cybernetic enhancements must deal with news reports of the deaths of all the patients he tried to help.

“A Feast of Kings” by David Sklar
My story in "Last Contact" is a dark, bizarre piece that was inspired by a line from a hymn on folk radio, twisted in a direction the songwriter never would have imagined, and allowed to steep until it took me to hideous places. I still don't entirely know what the story is about, but it deals in sex, violence, cannibalism, sorcery, self-torture, Egyptian magic, and talking cats.

“The Charnel Pit” by Stephen Gaskell. Six servants are put to death to keep them from revealing where they buried the Emperor with all his earthly goods. One stays behind as a ghost to take vengeance on the Emperor and provide for his wife and unborn child. Exotic and compelling.

“God in the Machine” by Charles Brownson. An amusing steampunk romp.

"Seedling" by Eric Zovovic. An abandoned spaceship contemplates Eastern thought and tries to determine its next incarnation. Brief, well-written, and intriguing.

“The Loss of Pain” by Amy Treadwell. Another very talented author from past Triangulation anthologies takes you into a tale of knights who returned from the Crusades with leprosy, and went back to war just the same. Excellent in many ways, not the least of which is her ability to elicit sympathy with and even a bit of rooting for people whose cause I don't really agree with. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the Crusades, the heroism and tragic loss keeps this tale compelling to the end.

“Mikeys” by Robert J. Sawyer. I would have rather ended with the Treadwell story, but this one is also a decent read. About two astronauts who don't get to walk on Mars but set up a command module on a Martian moon to support the men who will. A science fiction story in the classic style, complete with over-explanation of details that are sometimes, but not always, intriguing enough to be worth the digression.

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