rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short stories (I'm too tired to write even a one-line blurb for these, have links, they are short stories I liked)

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea by Sarah Pinsker

The Fixer by Paul McAuley

Between Dragons and Their Wrath by An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky

Long fiction:
The Reindeer and the Raven
by T. Kingfisher, as previously mentioned.  (it is very good, do read it if you like fairy tale retellings and/or  The Snow Queen story)

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Stasis by Lindsay Smith (TWWCIFTC episode 4)

rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short fiction

Hereafter by Samuel Peralta
A time-travel love story.

Monstrous Embrace by Rachel Swirsky
I nearly got put off this by the elaborate prose style, but after the first few paragraphs I was sucked into this fairy-tale-from-a-different-perspective.

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass by Jeremiah Tolbert
What if everyone had a portal fantasy to fall into?

Departures by Sara Polsky (poem)

And episode 3 of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold: Double Blind by Max Gladstone. I am really enjoying this serial; the episodes are short enough for me to keep up with, and I think our characters just had at least two more conflicts of interest layered on top of the existing set.

What I'm reading
The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher.  This came out on Tuesday and I bought it late on Wednesday night as reward for finishing the latest OU assignment on time.  I am about halfway through and greatly enjoying it, especially the raven.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/622373.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Jodie and Renay's favourite short fiction of 2015

I've read the following from that list, all of which I would recommend:
(which implies I have a high chance of liking the rest of them)

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/622265.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I've read - short fiction
The first two episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold. Cold War spies in Prague, and a different kind of struggle between competing factions of magic-users (and of course the two conflicts overlap and group people in different ways). I loved the pilot enough to subscribe to the series, and the second episode confirmed my opinion ...
A Long Cold Winter by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (1/13 - free to read online)
A Voice on the Radio by Cassandra Rose Clarke (2/13 - requires payment)

Tigerskin by Kurt Hunt
Warning for harm to a child in the opening! but not quite as it seems.

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg
Admiring letters sent along trade routes between two different magic practitioners.

La Lune T’attend by Peter S. Beagle
Werewolves and magic and old men trying to protect their families (a bit gory in places)

Charlotte Incorporated by Rachael K. Jones
A brain in a jar who wants a better home.

Long fiction
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, as reviewed separately.

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link - an anthology of short stories by the author whose novella I liked a couple of weeks ago
The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley - a novella for Patreon supporters, about Nyx from the Bel Dame Apocrypha books

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I've read
Four short stories by A.M.Dellamonica. An extract of her book A Daughter of No Nation was in Lightspeed 67, I got caught up in it and went to look for the full thing, to discover it was the second of a series, and balked at the price. So I read three short stories which are related to these novels (but I think work well as standalone stories) - it's all kind of epic fantasy in a world made up of small islands and lots of sailing trade links and piracy:

Among the Silvering Herd
The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti
The Glass Galago

And then a fourth story about a werewolf puppy in danger in Vancouver: The Cage

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I finally started it! Once I started, I found it hard to put down, and liked it a lot (although it gets quite gory in places, and there's a distressingly high body count towards the end) - the terrifyingly creepy Wood, and the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia both worked well for me.

The "pilot episode" of Bookburners (serialised fiction "created by" Max Gladstone and written by him with some others) which was good enough to get me interested in reading more, though I despair at my to-read pile. 

What I'll read next
Probably the pilot of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/620139.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I've read
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
One of the Tor.com novellas, I read a review and bought and read it on impulse. I couldn't put it down and stayed awake a bit too late last night to finish it. Binti is brilliant at maths, on her way to take up a place at the best university in the galaxy (against the wishes of her family), making friends with other new students ... and then things go horribly wrong.

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
Another story about the wonderful Grandma Harken in Jackalope Wives (and if you haven't read that, please do, it's excellent). I particularly love the description of the railways and their magic, but mostly I'm there for Grandma Harken and her grumpy, no time-for-this-nonsense approach to sorting out messes.

Maiden, Hunter, Beast by Kat Howard
A unicorn hunt story that I was gripped and surprised by.

Beacon 23: Little Noises by Hugh Howey
An exciting adventure set on a space beacon; a tale about being alone and lonely and making mistakes.

The Queen's Reason by Richard Parks
A rather self-aware fairy tale; a bit meta; with an ending I loved.

The Surfer by Kelly Link
A reprint novella in Lightspeed 67 which I enjoyed: a teenage boy in a plane-load of people quarantined with a flu scare; the people dynamics and the future geopolitics are shown really well, even if the boy Dorn is somewhat self-centred and oblivious and would rather be playing soccer.

What I'm reading now: the non-fiction parts of Lightspeed 67

Books acquired this week: Binti, as discussed above

What I'll read next:
I've got as far as loading Uprooted onto my phone, so I "just" need to set aside some novel-length reading time for it.

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I liked:

Yuanyuan's Bubbles by Liu Cixin
I find Liu's style a little hard to get into, but I did find myself thinking about this story for a while afterward. Yuanyuan's playful attraction to bubbles and other ephemeral fun is contrasted with her father's sober hardworking approach to life, and yet may be more useful than either realises.

Union by Tamsin Muir
This is really creepy stuff, with body horror at the edge of my tolerance for such things, but had me gripped right to the end.

Daddy's World by Walter Jon Williams
This is also creepy-for-me but good, this time nudging up against my tolerance for poor treatment of children by parents; I nearly gave up near the beginning but am glad I stuck it out to find out the deeper plot lurking underneath.

I also found interesting the essay by Cat Rambo about whether people "should" read the SF classics, and why.
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/614808.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I particularly liked:

Wooden Feathers by Ursula Vernon
A story about a woodcarver and her mysterious regular customer. I really loved Sarah, who opens the story improvising fixes to her mistakes, and has a very believable reaction to the eventual 'reveal' of magic. The story made me cry. It's also about creativity and learning and fear and risk. Highly recommended.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson
It's a zombie story, and a little bit too gory/icky for me, but done really well.

and the poem Aboard the Transport Tesoro by Lisa M. Bradley
(I find it even harder to write about why I like poems than I do about short stories, so I'm not even trying here.)

And I quite liked:

A Call to Arms for Deceased Authors’ Rights by Karin Tidbeck
A spooky idea, nicely done.

Interlingua by Yoon Ha Lee
Loved the set up, not sure about the ending

The Call of the Sad Whelkfins by Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Lurhs
An essay on Joanna Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing using Ancillary Justice for an example

rmc28: (books2010)
The good:

Ghosts of Home by Sam J. Miller
What if houses had spirits that needed to be placated when they were left empty (say, by banks evicting people for non-payment of mortgages in a credit crunch)?  Who gets employed to do that kind of work?  I really enjoyed this story, and have put it on my Hugo placeholder list for next year.

Civilization by Vylar Kaftan
Choose your own adventure political system.  I thoroughly enjoyed this, thought it seemed vaguely familiar, and then realised I'd read it in the Glorifying Terrorism anthology where it was originally published.

Given the Advantage of the Blade by Genevieve Valentine
I didn't precisely enjoy this story about all the fairy-tale women you can think of having repeated massed fights - I found it too depressing - but I think it's cleverly done and constructed, and other people may like it more.

Read more... )
The book reviews have me convinced I don't want to read Wesley Chu's Time Salvager or Ken Liu's Grace of Kings, but I probably do want to read N.K. Jemison's Fifth Season and Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/603413.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (books2010)
First I dug out the remaining published shorts by Iona Sharma I hadn’t already read:

Ur by Iona Sharma
The setting for this story is Ur, a joint colony between humans and aliens (the people of Earth and the people of Xi Lyr). The plot follows the household of a government minister as Earth takes a vote whether to continue the colony project or not; it’s about that, and it’s also about language and people and change.

One-Day Listing by Iona Sharma
This story has another humans+aliens setting, this time with a recent disaster having taken place; the story doesn’t focus on the disaster, just the background stress it puts on everyday activities. It’s very much a day-in-the-life kind of story and I enjoyed it as I have everything else by this author.

[I had an idea to go track down short stories by Hugo nominees I hadn’t hated, specifically Kary English and Rajnar Vajra, but couldn’t find anything recently published by either not requiring a purchase to read. Which is fair enough, but I’ve already got oodles of bought books/magazines to read, so I postponed that plan for now, and went back to things I’ve already paid for.]

2 from the current edition of Clarkesworld:

Today I Am Paul by Martin L Shoemaker
What if medical robots could pretend to be people on demand, when caring for dementia patients? This is a neat little story about that scenario, playing out with one old woman. I was reminded of my paternal grandmother and thought the story was done well.

It Was Educational by J.B. Park

This story was rather less to my taste, being a reviewer in a simulated “historic” education game, which is definitely at the gory end for me.

2 from the current edition of Lightspeed:

The Smog Society by Chen Qifan, translated by Ken Liu & Carmen Yiling Yan
I was impressed by the invocation of the smog-covered city, and all the little technological defences against it; I was less impressed by the man-pain of the old man who keeps ignoring his wife until it’s too late. It’s a bit of a depressing story, but one that will stick with me, I suspect.

To See Pedro Infante by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This was also rather depressing: a young woman with the ability to send her mind into other bodies, living a fairly miserable life with a crush on a celebrity. Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/593692.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (books2010)
Almost like a reward for getting through the Hugo voting, Kameron Hurley posted her second story funded by Patreon, which handily completed another set of six stories for me:

The Judgement of Gods and Monsters is a thoughtful story about how a society creates the balance between being fully peaceful in peacetime, and being able to defend itself in wartime; how it deals after the war with those who committed violence within it.

I like the main plot of the story, but I also like how some of the background details (family structures, command structures, current technology) are not like the current white Western default, which builds the sense of this being a different place very effectively.

Archana and Chandni by Iona Sharma
Indian wedding … in space! I loved it, from the convincing portrayal of enduring culture into the future, to the spaceship sibling, to the wedding couple and the feeling of family. Just lovely. I have to thank [twitter.com profile] karaspita who linked to it. (and now I have Yet Another source of short fiction to fail to keep up with, yay!)

Alnwick by Iona Sharma
Also brought to my attention by [twitter.com profile] karaspita; this time about a bureaucrat in a British space program getting called out of a tedious party to respond to an accident affecting one of the key staff. I really like how the characters and the background culture feel completely real and believable, and the overall feeling is optimistic.

(and at this point I looked up the author’s website, realised that Nine Thousand Hours which I wrote about last time is also by Iona Sharma and think maybe I rather like this author?)

Noise Pollution by Alison Wingus
I really like the worldbuilding this story, where music is magic and there’s evil/chaotic noise that has to be fended off with singing, or at least a walkman playing some good music. Lots of fun. (and oh hey the author also writes comics)

The Totally Secret Origin of Foxman: Excerpts from an EPIC Autobiography by Kelly McCullough
It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: another variant on the superhero origin story, complete with former friend/nemesis and unexplained arrival of powers, but done well and interesting me enough to stick the imminent novel-in-the-same-universe on my wishlist.

Kin, Painted by Penny Stirling
I read this because the accompanying artwork was by Mia, whose work I adore. I’m often find highly stylised writing puts me off, if I’m noticing the style more than the story, but I think here the style and the story work together well and I enjoyed reading this, and admiring how Mia’s painting fits it so well.

(And Lackingtons looks interesting, if by its focus on stylistic writing, somewhat outside my comfort zone. I didn’t have enough short story publishers to keep up with, clearly!)

rmc28: (books2010)
I'm reading slightly faster than I'm writing up short stories (but only slightly), and I'm still figuring out how to write about them.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
This is the first short story paid for by Kameron Hurley’s Patreon (so for now you have to be a patron there to read it, minimum cost approx $1 every two months, though hopefully this one will get sold somewhere with a wider audience).
It is weird and interesting milSF: told by a soldier who’s part of a cohort that are literally turned into light and “beamed” into position to fight the war, and as the story unfolds you learn more and more about the war and the enemy and the effect of making people into this kind of weapon.

Somewhere I Have Never Traveled (Third Sound Remix) by E. Catherine Tobler
A mysterious sound is disturbing a worker on a helium mining station orbiting Jupiter. I really liked the imagery of Jupiter in this:
“The red spot spun itself out in our sixth year, the storm succumbing to another that is the colors of Earth’s seas: teal and turquoise, indigo and lapis. Sometimes, when the sunlight angles across, the storm shines like a great opal, cracked with orange lightning.”
But I got a bit lost in the mystery and still don’t feel quite clear about what was going on, especially in the second half of the story, even after reading it through a couple of times.

Trigger by Courtney Alameda
A "modern vampire hunting" short story with an exceptional young woman repeatedly facing a big scary monster vampire culminating in a motorbike chase across San Francisco. I quite enjoyed it but it felt like it was part of a longer story; in the comments I discovered it was a prequel to a young adult novel, Shutter.

By Degrees and Dilatory Time by S. L. Huang
A young man gets new cyborg eyes and adapts to them; that’s basically the entire plot, in a fine sf tradition of what-if stories. I thought it was done well.

Nine Thousand Hours by Iona Sharma
A fantasy story about a magical accident taking all the words out of the world, but also about home and how people change.

…And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes by Scott Alexander
A fun exploration of a set of possible superpowers, with an ending that surprised me, in a good way.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/587098.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (books2010)
I find reading (and writing about) anthologies / magazines difficult.  I need to take breaks between each short story, and then when I get to the end I've mostly forgotten what happened in the first 75% of the stories, and then writing about the anthology turns into a marathon, and then I give up.

And I have just acquired all 60 back issues of Lightspeed, via the Queers Destroy SF! Kickstarter, which is a lot of short fiction.

So, as "do a little each day" is working well for my studying, I thought I'd take a similar approach to short stories: write up one or two a day, post them six at a time.

This set has 2 stories each from anthologies acquired this year:

Women Destroy Fantasy! (which I got because it had a T Kingfisher story in it)
Women Destroy Science Fiction! (which I got because I enjoyed Women Destroy Fantasy!)
Kaleidoscope (recommended by [personal profile] ceb )

The Scrimshaw and the Scream by Kate Hall (WDF!)
A story about people who seem to be turning into birds, in a society which thinks this is terrible and the signs of turning into birds are because of bad behaviour. I did actually find it a bit too Obvious Metaphor / Message Fiction so it didn't work for me.

Making the Cut by H. E. Roulo (WDF!)
An interesting take on female superheroes but I found the Surprise Terrifying Birth hitting my pregnancy+birth buttons badly. I'd like to read more by this author without that plotline.

Each to each by Seanan McGuire (WDSF!)
Genetically modified women soldiers in the Navy (modern mermaids), facing mysterious attacks. I really enjoyed this, and if it's more typical of McGuire than Parasite, I should seek out more by her.

A Word Shaped Like Bones by Kris Millering (WDSF!)
Rather creepy tale of an artist going quietly mad on a long space journey. It unfolded very well; I think better to say I appreciated it rather than enjoyed it ...

Cookie Cutter Superhero by Tansy Rayner Roberts (K)
A rather different superhero story to the above, rather pointed about how superheroes generally are viewed, and about how female superheroes in particular are treated/seen in superhero teams. I really liked this one and would like to read more by the author.

Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon by Ken Liu (K)
I find it hard to write about this one without spoilers. A young couple discover that a myth is true, but is also not quite what they thought. I liked it a lot.


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Rachel Coleman

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