Friday, April 26, 2013

Short story read aloud, week 7

Escape Artists (Escape PodPodcastlePseudopod

Amanda M. Olson, "Virtue's Ghosts": A sort of Victorian-ish setting where people at puberty get magical gems that enforce some virtue on them. The narrator is a child whose older aunt has this scary "silence" virtue that ruins her life, but then they meet a man who has escaped his charm (by not going through the process at all). A very interesting setting with a very fair ending, mixed of happy and sad.

Matt Wallace, "Sundae": A magical teddy bear fights children's imaginary monsters, but can't do so forever. Rather than focus on one relationship, the story hops around in Sundae's life, which gives an expansive view of his activity, but doesn't entirely allow readers to empathize with the characters.

Christine Brooke-Rose, "Red Rubber Gloves": An older story, very much like Alain Robbe-Grillet, where a voyeur looks over at a house where something might or might not be happening, largely told through changes in the house and a careful description of the architecture. Very Nouveau, which makes me wonder how much that weirdness can be combined with fantastic fiction.

"Flash on the Borderlands XV: At Your Service": A collection of three flash stories around the idea of service. The first is a riddle story where an electric chair talks about courting a man; the second is about a hotel where unfortunate things happen and need to be cleaned up; the third is about a malfunctioning robot that is obsessed with meat.

Pamela Rentz, "The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock": A very funny story about a Native American medicine woman who has to face the changing but pleasant world: her ceremonial cedar canoe has been lost and her connection to the spiritual world has become a little bit more like an HMO, but there are ways to live with these changes. Very pleasant.

Dirk Flinthart (are you serious about that name?), "The Red Priest's Vigil": An inquisitor tries to trap a martial artist/heretic who comes to visit his dying friend; the vigil in question is to keep his friend's soul from the devil. And something about the heretic's loyalty and bravery convinces the narrator/inquisitor that he shouldn't be doing what he's doing. The story is told as a single letter from the inquisitor to his boss, and while I wasn't sure why that structure was chosen, the end--the inquisitor reveals his lack of allegiance and quits--nicely answers that.

Richard Bowes, "The Queen and the Cambion": Queen Victoria calls on Merlin several times during her life. A perfectly pleasant and melancholy-tinged story, though a little episodic: Merlin saves Victoria from her scheming mom; help her chose a husband; comes to do x, y, and z for her. The historical aspect is nicely handled, with a gentle hand that gently fits in the fantasy. But while the ultimate end should be melancholy--queen dying, Merlin trapped--it never really moved me emotionally.

Lois McMaster Bujold, "Aftermaths": I've never read Bujold before, so I have no idea about the background of this military space opera; but the story doesn't require a lot of background, especially since it falls into that classic formula of "callow young soldier learns through exposure to older expert." Only here, the setting is after the war, not during; and the older expert isn't an older soldier, but a medic who takes care with all of her recovered bodies, both from her side and from the enemy side. That very slight change is enough to keep the formula interesting; and the story's humanity (towards us and them) is touching.

Cast of Wonders (Protecting Project PulpTales to TerrifyStarship Sofa)

John Everson, "Green Apples": A witch/ghost slowly reveals to the protagonist that he's a murderer of women. Although we get limited 3rd through the protagonist, it's interesting how we're kept out from that main fact about him, that he's a serial killer. I'm not entirely sure the writer plays fair with us with this absence of info (and the murder scenarios seems odd, with the guy killing women on Halloween when he finds them trick-or-treating alone (?) and then burying the bodies in an abandoned house); but I like the idea of guilt being slowly brought out.

Pat Murphy, "Going Through the Changes": An unhappy woman experiences the enjungling of the world after she visits a doctor who promises a mind vacation. Nicely balances between the menace of something new coming and the hope that something new will come.

Harry Harrison, "By the Falls": A journalist comes to a lighthouse keeper (of a sort) who lives by some falls where strange things live above and sometimes fall. I think the implication is that those things above are us, which makes this a fairly standard switch-reveal story, like in The Twilight Zone.

Michael Moorcock, "Through the Shaving Mirror": A comedic take on the club story chatting of a bunch of oddballs, including a metaphysicist dwarf who boxes against clocks. Funny and weird--and short, which is nice since there's not much here to identify with or attach to.

No comments:

Post a Comment