Friday, August 2, 2013

Short Story Read-Aloud, Week 21


David Barr Kirtley, "Power Armor: A Love Story": A cute story that is on the border of overly metaphorical: a man from the future won't take off his power armor because he's afraid of assassins from the future. So when he falls in love with an assassin, will he take off his armor and let her in?

Escape Artists (Escape PodPodcastlePseudopod

Ferrett Steinmetz, "Riding Atlas": A nebbishy guy is afraid of losing his girlfriend, so agrees to do this blood-sharing weekend that is supposed to be mind-expanding. It is. The end. Fine characterization and the hints of Lovecraftian cosmic horror are fun, but the story is very thin.

Lightspeed and Nightmare 

Cherie Priest, "Addison Howell and the Clockroach": A curious three-part story, with (1) an oral history from a woman whose town experienced something weird; (2) a researcher commenting on the story; and (3) a museum's exhibit notes. I liked the first two parts, which rub up against each other interestingly (how things are remembered vs. the few facts we have about the real history); but am not sure why the third part is included.

Carrie Vaughn, "Fishwife": Told from a slight distance--we get it all over the shoulder of a fisherman's wife, but without dialogue or names, like a bird's eye limited third--this story is like "The Shadow over Innsmouth" told from the POV of the poor villagers who have a choice: starve in poverty or start worshipping and sacrificing strangers to the sea god? Although it's told in this distanced style, it also delves deeply into the emotions and thoughts of this woman, which helps to make it affecting.

Cast of Wonders (Protecting Project PulpTales to TerrifyStarship Sofa)

Margo Lanagan, "The Goosle": A rewriting of Hansel and Gretel, where Hansel escapes and becomes the companion and rape-victim of a man. Dark and interesting, but ultimately doesn't move me because it doesn't really do much with the Hansel/Gretel frame.

Mark Morris, "What Nature Abhors": Man gets off a deserted train to see a creepy deserted town and discovers a small child yelling for its dad to stop. Creepy end, but very long build-up--too long.

Michael Penkas, "Wet Dog Perfume": A suicidal guy whose dog just died meets a woman who can bring back his ghost for a final reconciliation. There's a hint of open-ended horror at the end,  but mostly it seemed sweet.

Felicity Dowker, "Bread and Circuses": A nonsensical premise I had trouble getting around: after the zombies, people build up a civilization in the graveyards (where the zombies don't go), but apparently only dicks survived because they institute a man-vs.-zombie gladiator game.

William Hope Hodgson, “A Voice in the Night”: Man on ship meets other man who tells a story of shipwreck and woe and fungus.

Henry Kuttner, "Raiders of the Spaceways": An excellently paced, thinly characterized story of (a) a man who harvests this miracle drug on Venus and the girl he likes, (b) the space raider who attempts to steal the drug, (c) the fight with another ship to get away, (d) and the monster who attacks them on the nightside of Venus. Each section complicates or raises the stakes for the hero.

Clark Ashton Smith, "Mother of Toads": A witch magics a boy into sleeping with her and when he tries to get away, she kills him with a flood of toads. Ridiculous (especially if you put it into modern parlance where the witch basically roofies the boy), but atmospheric.

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