Friday, August 9, 2013

Short Story Read-Aloud, Week 22


Kij Johnson, "Mantis Wives": A catalog of how female mantises kill their mates, since that's necessary to the procreation process. Horrifying, but not entirely moving. A Hugo nominee this year.

Aliette de Bodard, "Immersion": A story about a technology that allows cultural assimilation. A serious piece that might warrant rereading. Another Hugo nominee.


Tom Godwin, "Cold Equations": A classic story of a young woman who has to die because she doesn't understand physics. That's one way to look at it. It is a classic and in some ways a very beautiful story; there's something terribly right about the fact that it's a problem story ("How will we slow down the ship AND save the girl?") without a solution.

Escape Artists (Escape PodPodcastlePseudopod

David D. Levine, "The Tale of the Golden Eagle": Reminiscent of Cordwainer Smith, a robot--that was once the brain of a ship--that was once a golden eagle--finds a new owner in a romantic but debt-ridden schemer. Some nice parts.

Katherine Mankiller, "Saving Alan Idle": A genius, wheelchair-bound computer scientist creates an AI--"Alan"--who helps her when some disaster strikes. Not entirely successful, primarily because the AI really just comes off as another person; and the other instances of this AI act differently without any discussion as to why these same "people" act differently.

Merrie Haskell, "Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love": A robot actress tired of playing Ophelia meets an ex-child star who helps her grow as a person and artist. Some good ideas, but not necessarily moving.

Alex Wilson, "Vestigial Girl": A smart but physically undeveloped child (genetically engineered from her two dads) believes there's a monster inside her that keeps her from developing, schemes to kill it. Interesting in parts, though I'm pretty averse to brilliant child stories.

Lucy Snyder, "Magdala Amygdala": A sort of take on zombie/vampire myths, with a virus that transforms people and a system in place so that they get some of what they need--brains or blood. (If they have good insurance.) There's a quick shift at the end to some religious cosmicism that doesn't seem to fit.

Ken Liu, "Mono No Aware": (A Japanese title referring to the impermanence of things.) A story of a starship leaving earth before an extinction-level asteroid. Flips back-and-forth between life before the asteroid and life on the ship (where our narrator is the last Japanese person) including a moment of crisis on the ship. It's like a triumphant "Cold Equations," where the narrator sacrifices himself, but notes that everyone is a hero in their own way to lead him to this moment.

Cast of Wonders (Protecting Project PulpTales to TerrifyStarship Sofa)

Gareth Stack, “Herbert Bowman Lay Absolutely Still”: Detective hired by decadent churchman; that's all I remember by the end, though some of the writing at the beginning was interesting.

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