johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

91) ‘How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents’ by Michael W. Lucht
First published, 2010 – appeared in The Drabblecast #247

It really would be terrible if you had to pay royalties on common physical formulae; V = IR costs $12 to licence in this short piece. Cheaper systems are available, but many of them are nonsense – especially the very cheap Aristotelian mechanics, which are almost completely useless. I liked these concepts, they made me smile.

The Drabblecast are apparently currently running a little low on funds, so if you listen, help them out and donate, mmmkay?

92) ‘Softlight Sins’ by Peter F. Hamilton
First published, 1997/1998 – appeared in StarShipSofa #212

This was a pretty immense story about capital punishment, the nature of the soul and a variety of other things. The reading in StarShipSofa was great, I was quite impressed. The story starts in one manner and ends in another, but the ending is fantastic. I love the central conceit, of a form of capital punishment that doesn’t actually require the death of the body; I was a little confused by some of the religious undertones partway through the story, but I think it works, in the end.

93) ‘Dial Double Zero’ by Ray Bradbury
First published, 1963? – appeared on BBC Radio 4

I’ve got to be honest I didn’t get this one, and I’m thinking that might be the fault of the BBC’s way of presenting it as a dramatisation. A quick Google to find the publication date reveals a page that says the point of the story was about the spontaneous creation of Artificial Intelligence. The impression I gleaned from the BBC’s version was that a mental person had gone around codifying his younger self into tapes and set them all to ring him incessantly when he turned 80, which just didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I think, to be fair, I should probably read the short story proper.

94) ‘113 Feet’ by Josh Roseman
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #351

I liked this story, which was told from the perspective of a girl learning more about her father as she grew up. It’s another example of how good the original fiction from Escape Pod is. In this one, the girl reads her father’s notes on a couple of occasions to learn that he’s not really in the line of work he says he is, but in another one; she’s not sure which, because she’s too young to understand some of the words. The story jumps forwards through her childhood and further revelations about her father before, one day, something happens to turn these revelations into an obsession. I liked this a lot, and while I’m going to include it on my Hugo longlist just in case I don’t think it’ll make the final cut.

95) ‘The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’ by John Scalzi
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this but the joke began to wear thin by the end and it’s nowhere near to the same standard as any of the other Hugo-nominated short stories in 2012. There really isn’t much substance to the story and whilst I suspect that’s a deliberate decision, it also means I don’t have much to say about it, nor do I have any real desire to put it higher than last place in my Hugo rankings.

96) ‘Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage’ by Seanan McGuire
First published, 2011 – appeared in StarShipSofa #245

I enjoyed this story, overall. It was about a young girl in a faraway, fantasy land who fought some bad guys before coming home, to our universe, to sleep. She gets visited in the night, with huge ramifications for her plans for the future. It’s a good tale, and I liked the Truth Fairy and her effect on people quite a lot, but I didn’t really feel the ending was great.

97) ‘Food for Thought’ by Laura Lee McArdle
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #352

This one’s about an intelligent (ish) cow who is taking part in a reality television show being put on by people from the future. I enjoyed it, although it was incredibly silly. Just the sort of story to kick off a Monday without needing to think too much – I’d recommend it but it isn’t going on my Hugo longlist!

98) ‘The Cockroach Hat’ by Terry Bisson
First published, 2010 – appeared in The Drabblecast #248

This one was even sillier than the last one. Perhaps ‘whimsical’ is a better word. The plot is so disjointed that I can’t even begin to sum it up, and the central conceit appeared to be that anyone can turn into a cockroach at any time. It made me giggle, but it’s one surreal kettle of fish.

99) ‘The Steam Dancer (1896)’ by Caitlín R. Kiernan
First published, 2007 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was intriguing, set somewhere in the United States (‘the great smoky city at the end of the mountains’) and following the tale of Missouri Banks, a woman who has mechanical protheses instead of her left leg or her right arm. It was well-written, especially the dialogue. I loved the description of the dancing, which was really vivid and also very body-positive, both things of which I wholeheartedly approve! There aren’t any big ideas here (beyond clockwork protheses in the 19th century) but that didn’t matter to me given how much fun I had.

100) ‘Ruminations in an Alien Tongue’ by Vandana Singh
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This one’s a bit of an odd one. It’s about a woman called Birha and her experiences with aliens. I’m presuming that the reader is supposed to assume that the story is a translation from an alien tongue, or perhaps we’re the aliens and so English is the alien tongue – either way the title doesn’t appear to bear much relevance to the story, which is mostly concerned with many-worlds theories. It’s a curiously mellow tale of love and heartbreak, and I enjoyed it.

101) ‘Nomad’ by Karin Lowachee
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

I liked this one. I liked the concept of a Fuse at a very early age between a Radical (the name for the artificial intelligences in the story) and a human. The story is touching, and it didn’t feel as long as some of the novelettes that I read in the Hugo packet this year. It’s about a Radical who survives an event that kills everyone else present, including its human – it has to deal with that, and the story describes it leaving the Streak (tribe/clan thing) to which it belonged.

(I hadn’t noticed before that Lightspeed publishes novelettes as well as short stories, and this is the first one of those that I’ve noticed. Since they only appear to publish one Hugo-eligible novelette per issue, I figure there’s not much point in longlisting them since I can just go through and refresh my memory of the twelve that I’ve read.)

102) ‘Our Town’ by Kim Stanley Robinson
First published, 1986 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Stunning short story about sculptures made from microuniverses containing living beings, frozen at just the right instant to create the desired effect. Totally great idea, however, the ending struck me as rather a damp squib – I was expecting some revelation about Desmond and the girl, but nothing was forthcoming and the story finished very abruptly.

103) ‘Mother Ship’ by Caroline M. Yoachim
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

The title is a literal one, which gives you some idea of the content of the story; I loved the idea of a colony ship bred for the purpose, and the idea of humans taking it, fiddling with it and fucking it up resonated with me. I really liked the way that Yoachim makes it seem more plausible by taking the way we do IVF and applying it to how we attempt to breed a ship for ourselves. Melancholy in its own way.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

91) ‘How I Crippled a World for Just 0.01 Cents’ by Michael W. Lucht
First published, 2010 – appeared in The Drabblecast #247

It really would be terrible if you had to pay royalties on common physical formulae; V = IR costs $12 to licence in this short piece. Cheaper systems are available, but many of them are nonsense – especially the very cheap Aristotelian mechanics, which are almost completely useless. I liked these concepts, they made me smile.

The Drabblecast are apparently currently running a little low on funds, so if you listen, help them out and donate, mmmkay?

92) ‘Softlight Sins’ by Peter F. Hamilton
First published, 1997/1998 – appeared in StarShipSofa #212

This was a pretty immense story about capital punishment, the nature of the soul and a variety of other things. The reading in StarShipSofa was great, I was quite impressed. The story starts in one manner and ends in another, but the ending is fantastic. I love the central conceit, of a form of capital punishment that doesn’t actually require the death of the body; I was a little confused by some of the religious undertones partway through the story, but I think it works, in the end.

93) ‘Dial Double Zero’ by Ray Bradbury
First published, 1963? – appeared on BBC Radio 4

I’ve got to be honest I didn’t get this one, and I’m thinking that might be the fault of the BBC’s way of presenting it as a dramatisation. A quick Google to find the publication date reveals a page that says the point of the story was about the spontaneous creation of Artificial Intelligence. The impression I gleaned from the BBC’s version was that a mental person had gone around codifying his younger self into tapes and set them all to ring him incessantly when he turned 80, which just didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I think, to be fair, I should probably read the short story proper.

94) ‘113 Feet’ by Josh Roseman
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #351

I liked this story, which was told from the perspective of a girl learning more about her father as she grew up. It’s another example of how good the original fiction from Escape Pod is. In this one, the girl reads her father’s notes on a couple of occasions to learn that he’s not really in the line of work he says he is, but in another one; she’s not sure which, because she’s too young to understand some of the words. The story jumps forwards through her childhood and further revelations about her father before, one day, something happens to turn these revelations into an obsession. I liked this a lot, and while I’m going to include it on my Hugo longlist just in case I don’t think it’ll make the final cut.

95) ‘The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’ by John Scalzi
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this but the joke began to wear thin by the end and it’s nowhere near to the same standard as any of the other Hugo-nominated short stories in 2012. There really isn’t much substance to the story and whilst I suspect that’s a deliberate decision, it also means I don’t have much to say about it, nor do I have any real desire to put it higher than last place in my Hugo rankings.

96) ‘Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage’ by Seanan McGuire
First published, 2011 – appeared in StarShipSofa #245

I enjoyed this story, overall. It was about a young girl in a faraway, fantasy land who fought some bad guys before coming home, to our universe, to sleep. She gets visited in the night, with huge ramifications for her plans for the future. It’s a good tale, and I liked the Truth Fairy and her effect on people quite a lot, but I didn’t really feel the ending was great.

97) ‘Food for Thought’ by Laura Lee McArdle
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #352

This one’s about an intelligent (ish) cow who is taking part in a reality television show being put on by people from the future. I enjoyed it, although it was incredibly silly. Just the sort of story to kick off a Monday without needing to think too much – I’d recommend it but it isn’t going on my Hugo longlist!

98) ‘The Cockroach Hat’ by Terry Bisson
First published, 2010 – appeared in The Drabblecast #248

This one was even sillier than the last one. Perhaps ‘whimsical’ is a better word. The plot is so disjointed that I can’t even begin to sum it up, and the central conceit appeared to be that anyone can turn into a cockroach at any time. It made me giggle, but it’s one surreal kettle of fish.

99) ‘The Steam Dancer (1896)’ by Caitlín R. Kiernan
First published, 2007 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was intriguing, set somewhere in the United States (‘the great smoky city at the end of the mountains’) and following the tale of Missouri Banks, a woman who has mechanical protheses instead of her left leg or her right arm. It was well-written, especially the dialogue. I loved the description of the dancing, which was really vivid and also very body-positive, both things of which I wholeheartedly approve! There aren’t any big ideas here (beyond clockwork protheses in the 19th century) but that didn’t matter to me given how much fun I had.

100) ‘Ruminations in an Alien Tongue’ by Vandana Singh
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This one’s a bit of an odd one. It’s about a woman called Birha and her experiences with aliens. I’m presuming that the reader is supposed to assume that the story is a translation from an alien tongue, or perhaps we’re the aliens and so English is the alien tongue – either way the title doesn’t appear to bear much relevance to the story, which is mostly concerned with many-worlds theories. It’s a curiously mellow tale of love and heartbreak, and I enjoyed it.

101) ‘Nomad’ by Karin Lowachee
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

I liked this one. I liked the concept of a Fuse at a very early age between a Radical (the name for the artificial intelligences in the story) and a human. The story is touching, and it didn’t feel as long as some of the novelettes that I read in the Hugo packet this year. It’s about a Radical who survives an event that kills everyone else present, including its human – it has to deal with that, and the story describes it leaving the Streak (tribe/clan thing) to which it belonged.

(I hadn’t noticed before that Lightspeed publishes novelettes as well as short stories, and this is the first one of those that I’ve noticed. Since they only appear to publish one Hugo-eligible novelette per issue, I figure there’s not much point in longlisting them since I can just go through and refresh my memory of the twelve that I’ve read.)

102) ‘Our Town’ by Kim Stanley Robinson
First published, 1986 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Stunning short story about sculptures made from microuniverses containing living beings, frozen at just the right instant to create the desired effect. Totally great idea, however, the ending struck me as rather a damp squib – I was expecting some revelation about Desmond and the girl, but nothing was forthcoming and the story finished very abruptly.

103) ‘Mother Ship’ by Caroline M. Yoachim
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

The title is a literal one, which gives you some idea of the content of the story; I loved the idea of a colony ship bred for the purpose, and the idea of humans taking it, fiddling with it and fucking it up resonated with me. I really liked the way that Yoachim makes it seem more plausible by taking the way we do IVF and applying it to how we attempt to breed a ship for ourselves. Melancholy in its own way.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve started my way through the Hugo Voter Packet and this is the first short story I’ve read since starting my short stories roundups every week (it should be pointed out that I listened to four of the five Hugo-nominated short stories via Escape Pod, who did excellent readings of each). So expect some stuff from that coming up this week!

80) ‘1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur’ by Mur Lafferty
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the first thing of Mur’s that I’ve read and it made me giggle in several places. It’s the tale of a journalist meeting the famous Dr Lambshead, and it first appeared in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, which is a book designed for dipping in and out of. As such, I’m not sure it stands so well on its own, but since I possess a copy of the book I have the context for the piece. As a result I liked it a lot, and I was a huge fan of the sense of mystery around the object described in the story. I was also taken in by the use of parentheses to tell the story in a very perpendicular way which seemed to suit the nature of the book.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m planning to read the rest of Mur’s fiction, too. If you click the link now, you can get it whilst it’s still available for free: The offer ends at the end of June, which is tomorrow, so get downloading!

81) ‘The Transfiguration of María Luisa Ortega’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this thoroughly for the ideas it threw out but it’s extremely short. Given that it takes under five minutes to read, rather than me waffling on, you should probably just click the link and go read it.

I’ve already listened to ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, and so this was the first one I read from Yu’s excellently presented Campbell Award ebook.

82) ‘The Lamp at the Turning’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This one is longer than the previous one but still pretty short. Despite that it feels long enough for the story it tells, and I definitely enjoyed it greatly. It’s about a streetlamp that falls in love with a man who walks past it every day, which is just such a great concept. Definitely worth a look.

83) ‘Observer Effects’ by Tim Pratt
First published, 2007 – appeared in Escape Pod #250

This is Escape Pod’s last superhero-themed episode, which makes me sad. It includes ruminations on the nature of privacy and privacy intrusions, which I imagine would really annoy [livejournal.com profile] lproven. It also had a completely fascinating conceit: A computer that hooks into a superhero’s brain in order to work correctly. I found it difficult to get behind the central character in the ending of the story, though.

84) ‘Forget You’ by Marc Laidlaw
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was from one of the creators of Half-Life and so I was surprised to see it was fantasy, not sf. A man is lonely, and then a woman insinuates herself into his life. He is promptly slowly driven mad trying to remember how he met her. Definitely worth a read.

85) ‘Domovoi’ by M.K. Hobson
First published, 2005 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Mournful story about a real estate developer killing the soul of an old building by reinventing it. Not sure what I thought of this one; it’s evocative and tugs at my heart strings but at the same time leaving old buildings unused instead of redeveloping seems like a triumph of nostalgia over practicality.

86) ‘Ray of Light’ by Brad R. Torgersen
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Reading this simultaneously marks having read something by every Campbell-nominated author and also having read the first of the five nominated novelettes this year. I must confess that I really enjoyed this; I liked the concept, I thought that the logic behind the difference between the adults and the children made sense and loved the ending. One thing I was unsure about was the mother; I didn’t care about what happened to her, and I’m not sure that’s a good sign. I don’t yet know where I’m going to put Torgersen in my rankings for the Campbell; we’ll see.

87) ‘Six Months, Three Days’ by Charlie Jane Anders
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the second novelette and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s about Doug and Judy, two people who can both see glimpses of the future – they meet, fall in love and have a relationship. It lasts six months and three days. What I liked about this story was the contrast between Doug and Judy, and also the way in which the story ends. I would love to find out more about both characters!

88) ‘What We Found’ by Geoff Ryman
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This book tells an interesting personal story but didn’t transport me in the way that the previous two novelettes have done. It’s the story of a family living in Nigeria. The mother and father have four sons, and we hear the story through one of the middle ones. The science fictional idea that lies at the heart of this story is completely brilliant, and I loved it. I found parts of the family dynamic interesting, too, but I didn’t think the two were married particularly well and I would like to have seen more discussion of what the idea would have meant. I felt like this story had a lot of potential that didn’t really come through, in the end.

89) ‘Fields of Gold’ by Rachel Swirsky
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

The setting of this story instantly made me fall in love with it. The way that Swirsky plays with the setting made me continue to fall in love until it made me cry, instead. And then it made me happy, at the end. I have a feeling that this one’s going to be my favourite.

90) ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Apologies for the link to a PDF: I don’t think it’s available freely in any other format. I thought I’d already listened to this on StarShipSofa, but I went back to check and in fact I listened to the second Jonathan Hamilton novelette; this is the third.

I like Hamilton; he’s a cool character, and I also like the world quite a lot, with its vision of Britain as a world power. However, I must say I’m not sure that I have enough context for the world itself. I kinda feel like I need something a bit longer to solidify a couple of concepts regarding this universe. The action was really great, and something that wasn’t really present in any of the other nominees in this category. I do like the central ideas; the way that science has concluded that there must be a God; the dramatic irony inherent in the explanation of the twin paradox; and the explanation that it was Newton who came up with quantum theory. All in all an enjoyable read.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve started my way through the Hugo Voter Packet and this is the first short story I’ve read since starting my short stories roundups every week (it should be pointed out that I listened to four of the five Hugo-nominated short stories via Escape Pod, who did excellent readings of each). So expect some stuff from that coming up this week!

80) ‘1963: The Argument Against Louis Pasteur’ by Mur Lafferty
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the first thing of Mur’s that I’ve read and it made me giggle in several places. It’s the tale of a journalist meeting the famous Dr Lambshead, and it first appeared in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, which is a book designed for dipping in and out of. As such, I’m not sure it stands so well on its own, but since I possess a copy of the book I have the context for the piece. As a result I liked it a lot, and I was a huge fan of the sense of mystery around the object described in the story. I was also taken in by the use of parentheses to tell the story in a very perpendicular way which seemed to suit the nature of the book.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m planning to read the rest of Mur’s fiction, too. If you click the link now, you can get it whilst it’s still available for free: The offer ends at the end of June, which is tomorrow, so get downloading!

81) ‘The Transfiguration of María Luisa Ortega’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

I enjoyed this thoroughly for the ideas it threw out but it’s extremely short. Given that it takes under five minutes to read, rather than me waffling on, you should probably just click the link and go read it.

I’ve already listened to ‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’, and so this was the first one I read from Yu’s excellently presented Campbell Award ebook.

82) ‘The Lamp at the Turning’ by E. Lily Yu
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This one is longer than the previous one but still pretty short. Despite that it feels long enough for the story it tells, and I definitely enjoyed it greatly. It’s about a streetlamp that falls in love with a man who walks past it every day, which is just such a great concept. Definitely worth a look.

83) ‘Observer Effects’ by Tim Pratt
First published, 2007 – appeared in Escape Pod #250

This is Escape Pod’s last superhero-themed episode, which makes me sad. It includes ruminations on the nature of privacy and privacy intrusions, which I imagine would really annoy [livejournal.com profile] lproven. It also had a completely fascinating conceit: A computer that hooks into a superhero’s brain in order to work correctly. I found it difficult to get behind the central character in the ending of the story, though.

84) ‘Forget You’ by Marc Laidlaw
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This story was from one of the creators of Half-Life and so I was surprised to see it was fantasy, not sf. A man is lonely, and then a woman insinuates herself into his life. He is promptly slowly driven mad trying to remember how he met her. Definitely worth a read.

85) ‘Domovoi’ by M.K. Hobson
First published, 2005 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

Mournful story about a real estate developer killing the soul of an old building by reinventing it. Not sure what I thought of this one; it’s evocative and tugs at my heart strings but at the same time leaving old buildings unused instead of redeveloping seems like a triumph of nostalgia over practicality.

86) ‘Ray of Light’ by Brad R. Torgersen
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Reading this simultaneously marks having read something by every Campbell-nominated author and also having read the first of the five nominated novelettes this year. I must confess that I really enjoyed this; I liked the concept, I thought that the logic behind the difference between the adults and the children made sense and loved the ending. One thing I was unsure about was the mother; I didn’t care about what happened to her, and I’m not sure that’s a good sign. I don’t yet know where I’m going to put Torgersen in my rankings for the Campbell; we’ll see.

87) ‘Six Months, Three Days’ by Charlie Jane Anders
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This is the second novelette and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s about Doug and Judy, two people who can both see glimpses of the future – they meet, fall in love and have a relationship. It lasts six months and three days. What I liked about this story was the contrast between Doug and Judy, and also the way in which the story ends. I would love to find out more about both characters!

88) ‘What We Found’ by Geoff Ryman
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

This book tells an interesting personal story but didn’t transport me in the way that the previous two novelettes have done. It’s the story of a family living in Nigeria. The mother and father have four sons, and we hear the story through one of the middle ones. The science fictional idea that lies at the heart of this story is completely brilliant, and I loved it. I found parts of the family dynamic interesting, too, but I didn’t think the two were married particularly well and I would like to have seen more discussion of what the idea would have meant. I felt like this story had a lot of potential that didn’t really come through, in the end.

89) ‘Fields of Gold’ by Rachel Swirsky
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

The setting of this story instantly made me fall in love with it. The way that Swirsky plays with the setting made me continue to fall in love until it made me cry, instead. And then it made me happy, at the end. I have a feeling that this one’s going to be my favourite.

90) ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
First published, 2011 – appeared in the Hugo Voter Packet

Apologies for the link to a PDF: I don’t think it’s available freely in any other format. I thought I’d already listened to this on StarShipSofa, but I went back to check and in fact I listened to the second Jonathan Hamilton novelette; this is the third.

I like Hamilton; he’s a cool character, and I also like the world quite a lot, with its vision of Britain as a world power. However, I must say I’m not sure that I have enough context for the world itself. I kinda feel like I need something a bit longer to solidify a couple of concepts regarding this universe. The action was really great, and something that wasn’t really present in any of the other nominees in this category. I do like the central ideas; the way that science has concluded that there must be a God; the dramatic irony inherent in the explanation of the twin paradox; and the explanation that it was Newton who came up with quantum theory. All in all an enjoyable read.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

For the avoidance of doubt, I’ve decided to start referring to the stories I’m planning to consider for Hugo Awards as my ‘Hugo longlist’. This means the big text file I have that contains all the stories I want to come back to at the end of the year, for whatever reason.

74) ‘Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes’ by Tom Crosshill
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

Somewhat heartrending story about a man who operates a business that allows people to be saved into memory. The amount of virtual reality packed into this short story was almost TARDIS-like, and I really liked the way implications were made about virtual reality without being stated outright; I got the distinct impression of VR as a way to make contact more fleeting, and relationships more transient, but that’s just my reading and others will undoubtedly take something away from what is here. Definitely going on the Hugo longlist.

75) ‘Kidney’ by Amir Ahmed
First published, 2012 – appeared in Drabblecast #246

Another short-but-sweet story from the Drabblecast, hot on the heels of their last one. This one’s about a man who splits up with his kidney, and the occasion on which they meet several months after the breakup. It was a cute story that made me giggle a lot, and was set in Toronto – I was pleased to get a couple of the references to places in the city. This isn’t going to get considered for the Hugos, but it’s an entertaining story all the same.

76) ‘Origins’ by Ari Goelman
First published, 2009 – appeared in Escape Pod #249

This is the second instalment in Escape Pod’s superhero month, which is currently happily ongoing. It’s a tale of a couple, their pregnancy, and then their reactions to it; the fact that it’s set in a superhero world is rather by-the-by, all things considered. I liked her power, heat manipulation: it would be easy to be more simplistic, and I liked the idea that being able to do things with ice also gave her the power to do things with fire. (I did a similar thing in a friend’s Mutants & Masterminds game, with the power of electromagnetic manipulation.) I also liked the final stages of the story, and their final conversation made me giggle (don’t want to give it away).

77) ‘Draftyhouse’ by Erik Amundsen
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

This story was a somewhat confusing tale of ghosts on the Moon. I never really got a firm handle on what was going on, but I think that might have been a deliberate choice on the part of the author, making the reader feel as weirded out as the protagonist does. The concept of the Bridgeways was cool, as was the description of the four things that man can usefully do on the Moon. I also liked the author’s observation that war cannot be recorded in history if there are no survivors on either side. Some cool ideas, but I didn’t really dig the story as a whole.

78) ‘The Womb Factory’ by Peter M. Ferenczi
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

So, first things first: This one’s on my Hugo longlist, for sure. I really felt the story impacting on me, and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s the effect of the feminist leanings of a couple of the novels I’ve read recently, whiich drew my attention to the feminist angle of the plot? The title gives away the main premise of the story, which is about girls getting pregnant for a company (the reason for this becomes apparent fairly early on).

My interest was piqued by the protagonist’s assertion that she must be ‘working’ for a company that made knockoffs, since the company that made the real deal would never stoop to using humans (instead favouring big shiny buildings with artificial biomedical equipment and the like). However this flies in the face of what’s happening in the real world at the moment, with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Sony etc using Foxxconn and Chinese labourers to build products instead of shiny manufacturing robots in the developed world. I thought the story would have had more impact had the author said it was the market leader that was engaging in these practices, and not the knockoff merchant.

79) ‘The Sympathy’ by Eric Gregory
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This was a perfectly good story about a woman driving across America and picking up a hitchhiker. The woman, it is established, has just left her long-term boyfriend, and she meets a girl who wants a ride. The woman has thoughts and dreams about her boyfriend whilst the girl is clearly not quite what she seems, at first. This story was okay, and it certainly moved along quickly without any problems; however, I found it a bit empty. Nothing I could begin to put my finger on, but it didn’t make an impression for whatever reason.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

For the avoidance of doubt, I’ve decided to start referring to the stories I’m planning to consider for Hugo Awards as my ‘Hugo longlist’. This means the big text file I have that contains all the stories I want to come back to at the end of the year, for whatever reason.

74) ‘Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes’ by Tom Crosshill
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

Somewhat heartrending story about a man who operates a business that allows people to be saved into memory. The amount of virtual reality packed into this short story was almost TARDIS-like, and I really liked the way implications were made about virtual reality without being stated outright; I got the distinct impression of VR as a way to make contact more fleeting, and relationships more transient, but that’s just my reading and others will undoubtedly take something away from what is here. Definitely going on the Hugo longlist.

75) ‘Kidney’ by Amir Ahmed
First published, 2012 – appeared in Drabblecast #246

Another short-but-sweet story from the Drabblecast, hot on the heels of their last one. This one’s about a man who splits up with his kidney, and the occasion on which they meet several months after the breakup. It was a cute story that made me giggle a lot, and was set in Toronto – I was pleased to get a couple of the references to places in the city. This isn’t going to get considered for the Hugos, but it’s an entertaining story all the same.

76) ‘Origins’ by Ari Goelman
First published, 2009 – appeared in Escape Pod #249

This is the second instalment in Escape Pod’s superhero month, which is currently happily ongoing. It’s a tale of a couple, their pregnancy, and then their reactions to it; the fact that it’s set in a superhero world is rather by-the-by, all things considered. I liked her power, heat manipulation: it would be easy to be more simplistic, and I liked the idea that being able to do things with ice also gave her the power to do things with fire. (I did a similar thing in a friend’s Mutants & Masterminds game, with the power of electromagnetic manipulation.) I also liked the final stages of the story, and their final conversation made me giggle (don’t want to give it away).

77) ‘Draftyhouse’ by Erik Amundsen
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

This story was a somewhat confusing tale of ghosts on the Moon. I never really got a firm handle on what was going on, but I think that might have been a deliberate choice on the part of the author, making the reader feel as weirded out as the protagonist does. The concept of the Bridgeways was cool, as was the description of the four things that man can usefully do on the Moon. I also liked the author’s observation that war cannot be recorded in history if there are no survivors on either side. Some cool ideas, but I didn’t really dig the story as a whole.

78) ‘The Womb Factory’ by Peter M. Ferenczi
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #67

So, first things first: This one’s on my Hugo longlist, for sure. I really felt the story impacting on me, and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps it’s the effect of the feminist leanings of a couple of the novels I’ve read recently, whiich drew my attention to the feminist angle of the plot? The title gives away the main premise of the story, which is about girls getting pregnant for a company (the reason for this becomes apparent fairly early on).

My interest was piqued by the protagonist’s assertion that she must be ‘working’ for a company that made knockoffs, since the company that made the real deal would never stoop to using humans (instead favouring big shiny buildings with artificial biomedical equipment and the like). However this flies in the face of what’s happening in the real world at the moment, with companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Sony etc using Foxxconn and Chinese labourers to build products instead of shiny manufacturing robots in the developed world. I thought the story would have had more impact had the author said it was the market leader that was engaging in these practices, and not the knockoff merchant.

79) ‘The Sympathy’ by Eric Gregory
First published, 2012 – appeared in Lightspeed Magazine #23

This was a perfectly good story about a woman driving across America and picking up a hitchhiker. The woman, it is established, has just left her long-term boyfriend, and she meets a girl who wants a ride. The woman has thoughts and dreams about her boyfriend whilst the girl is clearly not quite what she seems, at first. This story was okay, and it certainly moved along quickly without any problems; however, I found it a bit empty. Nothing I could begin to put my finger on, but it didn’t make an impression for whatever reason.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

69) ‘All the Young Kirks, and Their Good Intentions’ by Helena Bell
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65

This one made me giggle, mostly due to the (unstated, but brilliant) central premise – all of the Kirks described within the novel live in Iowa, and are named such things as ‘Jamie’, ‘Tiberius’ and in one case, simply ‘Captain’ (the author’s blog entry on this concept is interesting reading). Other than this rather gorgeous conceit, this one didn’t really grab me very hard – there’s a range of stuff going on in the story, but I found it somewhat unfulfilling.

70) ‘Sunlight Society’ by Margaret Ronald
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

I really liked this story, initially for the cyberpunk aspect of what was going on, and then for the fact that it occurs in a world of superheroes. (This ties in nicely with last week’s superhero story, which I very much enjoyed.) The dialogue was witty and the backstory driving the events of the story are interesting. I particularly liked the ending, and the character’s final remark to the reader, which I found simultaneously apt and disturbing. This story is very relevant to today’s global situation, and I liked it.

71) ‘The Bells of Subsidence’ by Michael John Grist
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

This story was very poetic, in a way. The scenes I was imagining for the travel between the stars were psychedelic and colourful, contrasting with the melancholy of the protagonist between these times. At its heart this is a touching tale of a girl, separated from her childhood sweetheart, kept sane just by the sound of his name. The only criticism I have is that I was confused as to what ‘Subsidence’ was (in the context of the story), but I think the story gets away without explaining it.

72) ‘From Their Paws, We Shall Inherit’ by Gary Kloster
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

This one was kinda weird. Two threads go through the story, and it wasn’t immediately obvious to me, upon finishing the story, how they were connected. I think I’ve worked it out, though, and I feel like the story does what it sets out to do well – it gets you thinking, definitely. I must confess I wish that I hadn’t read about it, afterwards, on the author’s website, since I prefer the ambiguity and working it out for myself, versus things being put into black and white. I liked that the two threads are from very, very different perspectives, and any story that bemoans the current state of NASA’s funding is a story with merit!

73) ‘A Nice Jewish Golem’ by Ao-Hui Lin
First published, 2011 – appeared in Drabblecast #245

An interesting story about a golem, made by a female Orthodox Jew, and her concerns over his love life. I thought it was a cool concept and the story was very well narrated, but beyond that, it was only okay – there isn’t enough thought put into the ramifications of the idea on which the story is centred, and I guess I felt like there should have been more than what was there.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

69) ‘All the Young Kirks, and Their Good Intentions’ by Helena Bell
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65

This one made me giggle, mostly due to the (unstated, but brilliant) central premise – all of the Kirks described within the novel live in Iowa, and are named such things as ‘Jamie’, ‘Tiberius’ and in one case, simply ‘Captain’ (the author’s blog entry on this concept is interesting reading). Other than this rather gorgeous conceit, this one didn’t really grab me very hard – there’s a range of stuff going on in the story, but I found it somewhat unfulfilling.

70) ‘Sunlight Society’ by Margaret Ronald
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

I really liked this story, initially for the cyberpunk aspect of what was going on, and then for the fact that it occurs in a world of superheroes. (This ties in nicely with last week’s superhero story, which I very much enjoyed.) The dialogue was witty and the backstory driving the events of the story are interesting. I particularly liked the ending, and the character’s final remark to the reader, which I found simultaneously apt and disturbing. This story is very relevant to today’s global situation, and I liked it.

71) ‘The Bells of Subsidence’ by Michael John Grist
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

This story was very poetic, in a way. The scenes I was imagining for the travel between the stars were psychedelic and colourful, contrasting with the melancholy of the protagonist between these times. At its heart this is a touching tale of a girl, separated from her childhood sweetheart, kept sane just by the sound of his name. The only criticism I have is that I was confused as to what ‘Subsidence’ was (in the context of the story), but I think the story gets away without explaining it.

72) ‘From Their Paws, We Shall Inherit’ by Gary Kloster
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #66

This one was kinda weird. Two threads go through the story, and it wasn’t immediately obvious to me, upon finishing the story, how they were connected. I think I’ve worked it out, though, and I feel like the story does what it sets out to do well – it gets you thinking, definitely. I must confess I wish that I hadn’t read about it, afterwards, on the author’s website, since I prefer the ambiguity and working it out for myself, versus things being put into black and white. I liked that the two threads are from very, very different perspectives, and any story that bemoans the current state of NASA’s funding is a story with merit!

73) ‘A Nice Jewish Golem’ by Ao-Hui Lin
First published, 2011 – appeared in Drabblecast #245

An interesting story about a golem, made by a female Orthodox Jew, and her concerns over his love life. I thought it was a cool concept and the story was very well narrated, but beyond that, it was only okay – there isn’t enough thought put into the ramifications of the idea on which the story is centred, and I guess I felt like there should have been more than what was there.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve been listening to Escape Pod and the Drabblecast, and reading Clarkesworld Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine, in order to get a more solid grounding in the short stories being written in science fiction. I wanted to keep some sort of record about the stories I’d been hearing through these channels, so I’m going to try to write a bit about each one as I listen to or read it. Since part of my motivation is to keep track of what I want to nominate for the Hugos, you might find that I oftentimes mention whether or not I think I’ll nominate something; apologies in advance if you find that dull. I’ve counted the number of stories I’ve listened to, courtesy of the podcasts, and read, courtesy of the magazines – this takes me to approximately sixty-eight short stories read so far this year, which is way higher than I’d thought it would be.

One of the things that terrifies me, when it comes to writing about my reading, is that I’m not very well-read and I don’t have much skill in thinking critically about literature. What follows may well be total clap-trap, but it’s what I thought, so I guess you guys will have to cope somehow.

64) ‘“Run,” Bakri Says’ by Ferrett Steinmetz
First published, 2011 – appeared in Escape Pod #339.

I found this one very compelling, mainly for its structure and its ideas. It’s about a mission, and a save point to which the protagonist returns every time she fails. I don’t know whether you need to be a gamer to appreciate it or not, but I am and I really did – I loved how accurate the feeling I got from the story was, when compared to the feeling one actually gets from restarting endlessly from a point in a game. Another thing I found extremely compelling was the thought that Steinmetz puts into what the process would do to the one who was being zapped back to the save point. I loved this story.

65) ‘Next Time, Scales’ by John Moran
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #347.

I liked this one for the dynamic between the two central characters, who are two individuals from different species. Their relationship is at the centre of the story, told through the human’s eyes – although the plot kept things going, it was clearly just there to facilitate its exploration. I really liked, towards the end, the description of what it’s like to see the world through the body of another species. I enjoyed this one, but I don’t think it quite does enough to make it onto my nominations list.

66) ‘Nemesis’ by Nathaniel Lee
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #348.

I was excited to hear that June is superhero month at the Escape Pod, and also excited for this story. It starts out exciting, and I figured I knew where it was going about halfway through, but it completely surprised me in such a brilliant way, filling me with emotion and hope and glow. It also made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions, which is pretty impressive given that I listened to it on my walk through the dark on the way home – I got a strange look from a policeman I was walking past at one point. This one will almost certainly make it onto my Hugo ballot – as well as being completely uplifting, it plays nicely with the expectations of the audience. Recommended!

67) ‘And the Hollow Space Inside’ by Mari Ness
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65.

Although I found this conceptually interesting – the character around which the plot revolves is a fascinating thought experiment – I found the structure overly fiddly and difficult to follow. I appreciate that that’s probably the author’s desire to try to capture the mental state of the mother, through whose perspective the story is told, but I found it distracting rather than immersive or clever. In the defence of the author, the ebook does a much worse job of differentiating between different sections than the story does online.

68) ‘A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight’ by Xia Jia
First published in English, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65.

I’m not sure what I thought about this one. It’s about a young boy, raised by ghosts, but I found it a bit fleeting. There’s not enough development of the characters to get across the feelings that I think are required to really appreciate the ending; it’s quite clever in some ways, but ultimately didn’t really grab me in the way I wanted it to.

johncoxon: ([Me] Reading)

I’ve been listening to Escape Pod and the Drabblecast, and reading Clarkesworld Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine, in order to get a more solid grounding in the short stories being written in science fiction. I wanted to keep some sort of record about the stories I’d been hearing through these channels, so I’m going to try to write a bit about each one as I listen to or read it. Since part of my motivation is to keep track of what I want to nominate for the Hugos, you might find that I oftentimes mention whether or not I think I’ll nominate something; apologies in advance if you find that dull. I’ve counted the number of stories I’ve listened to, courtesy of the podcasts, and read, courtesy of the magazines – this takes me to approximately sixty-eight short stories read so far this year, which is way higher than I’d thought it would be.

One of the things that terrifies me, when it comes to writing about my reading, is that I’m not very well-read and I don’t have much skill in thinking critically about literature. What follows may well be total clap-trap, but it’s what I thought, so I guess you guys will have to cope somehow.

64) ‘“Run,” Bakri Says’ by Ferrett Steinmetz
First published, 2011 – appeared in Escape Pod #339.

I found this one very compelling, mainly for its structure and its ideas. It’s about a mission, and a save point to which the protagonist returns every time she fails. I don’t know whether you need to be a gamer to appreciate it or not, but I am and I really did – I loved how accurate the feeling I got from the story was, when compared to the feeling one actually gets from restarting endlessly from a point in a game. Another thing I found extremely compelling was the thought that Steinmetz puts into what the process would do to the one who was being zapped back to the save point. I loved this story.

65) ‘Next Time, Scales’ by John Moran
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #347.

I liked this one for the dynamic between the two central characters, who are two individuals from different species. Their relationship is at the centre of the story, told through the human’s eyes – although the plot kept things going, it was clearly just there to facilitate its exploration. I really liked, towards the end, the description of what it’s like to see the world through the body of another species. I enjoyed this one, but I don’t think it quite does enough to make it onto my nominations list.

66) ‘Nemesis’ by Nathaniel Lee
First published, 2012 – appeared in Escape Pod #348.

I was excited to hear that June is superhero month at the Escape Pod, and also excited for this story. It starts out exciting, and I figured I knew where it was going about halfway through, but it completely surprised me in such a brilliant way, filling me with emotion and hope and glow. It also made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions, which is pretty impressive given that I listened to it on my walk through the dark on the way home – I got a strange look from a policeman I was walking past at one point. This one will almost certainly make it onto my Hugo ballot – as well as being completely uplifting, it plays nicely with the expectations of the audience. Recommended!

67) ‘And the Hollow Space Inside’ by Mari Ness
First published, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65.

Although I found this conceptually interesting – the character around which the plot revolves is a fascinating thought experiment – I found the structure overly fiddly and difficult to follow. I appreciate that that’s probably the author’s desire to try to capture the mental state of the mother, through whose perspective the story is told, but I found it distracting rather than immersive or clever. In the defence of the author, the ebook does a much worse job of differentiating between different sections than the story does online.

68) ‘A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight’ by Xia Jia
First published in English, 2012 – appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine #65.

I’m not sure what I thought about this one. It’s about a young boy, raised by ghosts, but I found it a bit fleeting. There’s not enough development of the characters to get across the feelings that I think are required to really appreciate the ending; it’s quite clever in some ways, but ultimately didn’t really grab me in the way I wanted it to.

Most Popular Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom

July 2014

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
2021 2223242526
2728293031  

Style Credit

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios