Short Story Review: The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Jay Rubin (2020)

The Kingdom That Failed by Haruki Murakami

“To see a splendid kingdom fade away,” it said, “is far sadder than seeing a second-rate republic collapse.”

I’ve never read anything by Murakami and this was definitely a great introduction. I’m not really sure how to describe this one: a man sees someone he used to know and watches the man while remembering how he used to be. It’s quite short, yet engaging and with great prose!

It’s published in The New Yorker if you want to check it out. I definitely recommend giving it a go!

Short Story Mini Review: The South Asian Speakers Series Presents the Archeologist and Adventurer Indiana Jones

I’m awful at keeping up to date with all the different places I find short stories, so I’m glad this one popped up on my Twitter feed because it was a great short read about my favourite archaeologist and makes some very valid criticisms about one of the movies.

The story follows Indiana Jones at a talk with students where he’s confronted with the events of The Temple of Doom and chastised for his behaviour.

Hadn’t every object he’d ever loved finally eluded him, vanishing even further into the vault of history? Quietly he said, “I’ve never put anything in a museum.”

I really love Indiana Jones, but there are so many valid criticisms of the storylines, especially The Temple of Doom, so I appreciated this story. I maybe would have preferred a bit more length, but it’s to the point and well written.

“Can we agree, Indy, that India was a misstep? That you should stick to fighting Nazis?”

Hear hear, fight the Nazis, Dr Jones.

Read it here

Short Story Mini Review: Five Arrows (2015)

Five Arrows by Heinz Insu Fenkl

“Bury me where this arrow falls.” And he let the arrow fly with a loud whoosh of air torn by string and wood, and the arrow blurred high up into the blackness. If Big Uncle had told me then that he had hit the eye of the moon, I would have believed him.

This is quite an evocative short story published in the New Yorker. You can read it here. A young boy, Insu, goes to visit his uncle, who lives in a cave in the forest. When Insu’s friend Yongsu leaves, Insu spends the night with Big Uncle and listens to his stories. Fenkl has a wonderful way with words and the imagery is brilliant. Definitely recommend. 

Two Short Story Mini Reviews

Everything’s Fine by Matthew Pridham

Eric swallowed his tears and looked down at their clenched hands. “We’re fine,” he said, “everything’s fine.”

Ooof, this was a whooper. I was not expecting … any of what I just read. But I think that made the read all the more hard-hitting. So I recommend just diving straight in. But beware of lots of gore. Read it here.

All Votes Will Be Counted (We Promise) by Paul Crenshaw

He looked at the sky and wondered if the drones were coming. If the satellites would fall, or if, possibly, his vote would be read and counted.

This short is part of Apex Magazine‘s 119 issue and oh my word. To say that this one sent chills up and down my spine would be an understatement. Read it for yourself here.

Mini Review Roundup [30/05]

I’ve been having trouble with longer fiction novels of late. Being elbow deep in study definitely affects that, as I went through quite a bit non-fiction this week. I do really love reading old newspapers and archives, but I am missing fiction! I combed through two memoirs, this week, though. Both are from the Korean War.

I am really enjoying Days Without End on Audiobook. And Humankind, which is so darn optimistic and upbeat. I totally recommend it given what I’ve listened to so far. Bregman reframes so many moments and shows a different take on the narrative that makes headlines. It’s very hopeful.

mini reviews;

Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer

If you can bring me more such books, I will leave you every scrap of gold I can find.

Oh my goodness, I really liked this one. A little free library becomes a way to correspond with a mysterious, grateful seeker of books. J’adore!

3 a.m. Blues by Joseph Fulkerson

doing the backstroke in the ocean of other’s opinions, navigating the minefield of could’ve and should’ve

This was quite a good collection of poetry, I only wish it were longer!

When Two Swordsmen Meet by Ellen Kushner

It’s a beautiful fight. They each want the other to win. Not so much duel as duet.

Ooooh, this was goooood. Something very lyrical and fanciful about this one. I definitely recommend it. Available here

What’s everyone reading this week? 🙂

Short Story Review: We Are Where the Nightmares Go [2018]

We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill was reprinted in the latest issue of Lightspeed Magazine: May 2020, #120 and is available online here. Cargill’s story is originally from We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories. Also, I love absolutely in love with Lightspeed‘s latest cover. GORGEOUS.

The door is at the end, but there’s not only one path to it. Every way you walk is a path, and all of those paths lead to the door. Some of them just take much longer than others. Some of them are more difficult than others. There are some paths so scary, even I never wander them. This is a land of lost children, filled with children who never find the door and those who have lost themselves trying to find it.

This blew my mind, oh my gosh! It’s so creepy and nightmarish and poetic. I absolutely loved it. A little girl crawls into a door under her bed and is transported to the land where nightmares go and has to find her way back out again. She employs the help of a frightening clown whom she dubs Siegfried, and together they go from nightmarish locale to nightmarish locale, trying to outsmart The Thing on the Other Side of the Door, who won’t let the girl (or anyone else) out of the nightmare land.

Most dreams fade into nothing, drifting away like wisps of smoke. But some dreams, they last. They take root in the soul and hold strong against the tide. The nightmares that survive, the ones that come from the darkest places of your heart and refuse to fade away, they have to go somewhere. So they end up here, cast out like the trash, dumped where no one knows where to look, in the dark space beneath your bed.

For a horror story, it really reads so wonderful. The prose is beautiful and evocative. I’m definitely going to be reading more by C. Robert Cargill.

Mini Reviews & Reading Roundup [23/05]

Today I finally finished Gold Rush Manliness. It was really good, I just kept getting sidetracked. It was a great examination of how race and gender impacted the gold rushes in California and British Columbia. This line really stuck with me: In short, the notions of white manhood established in the nineteenth century persist today, and their legacies can be seen everywhere, from the least-threatening practical joking to the most menacing expressions of white male superiority. There were loads of things in this examination that really wow’d me. Definitely recommend!

I also read Warm Up, which is a prequel story to V. E. Schwab’s Villains and Vengeful. I really liked it! If you’re curious, the book is available on Tor, here. It was dark and eerie and very well done. I loved this quote: It didn’t catch fire. Nothing ever actually caught fire. No, it all simply burned.

Beyond the Dragon’s Gate by Yoon Ha Lee is a new Tor original. Read it online, here. I quite liked it! The new issue of Uncanny Magazine is also out and I’ve started with poetry this time!

Girl, you best stop setting yourself on fire,
you may be the phoenix,
but these bones aren’t kindling
to keep others warm—

Ali Trotta, ‘Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength’, here.

Currently reading;

Still working through Everything You Love Will Burn, Agnes Grey and A Small Revolution in Germany, all of which I’m liking, although Everything You Love Will Burn is something I have to listen to in small doses. I also started Cage of Souls. It’s my first Adrian Tchaikovsky. He’s such a big name in the science fiction genre, so I’m glad to have finally picked up one of his. I’m also about halfway through Louise O’Neill’s Almost Love. The prose is really good and the storyline sucks you in, but I’m having trouble liking the main character.

What’s everyone else reading? Have you read any of the above? What’d you think?

Mini Review Roundup

book review

My love of sci-fi/fantasy shorts continues and I’ve read a few more this week: Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson in Lightspeed Magazine, and Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell and Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn on Tor.

Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson

Extinction can be as global as all, or as personal as me.

I listened to the audiobook version of Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson, which was definitely unexpected. It’s a take on Noah’s Ark that, for me, brought to mind Snowpiercer (for reasons I won’t spoil, though I’m still like WHAT ). Johnson’s writing is undeniably captivating and there were several lines in the story that really stood out for me.

Will be coming back to this issue to check out the rest of the stories, for sure.

Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell

“I know,” I say to him, taking his hand. “Butterflies aren’t the same.”

The premise of this story is so interesting and tackles the question of choice and death in a really unique way. I read it on a whim and ended up quite liking it! Available here.

Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn

We go out into the galaxy and collect stories, and then we bring them home.

I really liked this one. Graff is injured on the job and when he’s brought in and doesn’t die from what would otherwise be life-threatening injuries, everyone on his ship has a lot of questions, including his boyfriend, Doctor Ell. Definitely recommend! Available here.

Mini Review Roundup

book review

I’ve been reading/listening to a good number of shorts this week and have found some lovely ones! All of them are available online, so click the links if you’re curious!

1. Such Thoughts Are Unproductive by Rebecca Campbell, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 159:

It only takes a few words when it’s people like us, the imperfect citizens of this perfectly known world. She told me things I do not wish to know, because they hurt to know, then we both looked instinctively for cameras and drones and microphones.

I got such 1984 vibes from this. Really impressed, definitely recommend. Available here

2. An Arc of Lightning Across the Eye of God by P H Lee, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 157

I am my father’s name, written by my mother’s vision across time and space.

This was a very interesting short that’s really hard to describe, but definitely worth a read. Available here.

3. Lightspeed Magazine, June 2015: Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue (edited by Seanan McGuire)

I’ve just stumbled upon this collection of LGBT+ stories and I can’t wait to dive into them all. It’s 500+ pages too, like YAAAAS. But also, I do *not* have time for these wonderful distractions. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO READ AND THE LIST IS ONLY GROWING GOOD GRIEF. (This is like the best problem to have, really, but still, the ever-growing TBR is ridic)

So far I’ve only read Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind by Erica L. Satifka, which was brief but hard hitting all the same. It’s a found letter and the content is only 700 words, so I won’t summarise it. Just give it a go! F/F. Available here.

4. Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair by Ken Scholes

No one ever asks a clown at the end of his life what he really wanted to be when he grew up. It’s fairly obvious.

I absolutely adored the title and it’s honestly what drew me in. This is a rather funny short story about an ex-clown tasked with driving a monkey to Roswell, New Mexico. Really enjoyed it! Available here.

5. Her Appetite, His Heart by Dominica Phetteplace Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 114

Grief was the price of survival.

Part of the Robot Country series. I definitely should have read the first one first, haha, but I still enjoyed it. Available here.

 

Mini Review Roundup

Mini Review Roundup:

Skinner Box by Carole Johnstone | available for free here. | science fiction, short story, romance, horror

Can a cognitive neuroscientist be fooled? Can an expert in the field of deep learning and AI evolution be unknowingly coerced? Can a genius be corrupted? Can a manipulator be manipulated?

Wow. This started out one kind of intense and then turned into a whole other kind of intense and I’m fairly darn impressed. Be sure to mind the warnings at the top, but I definitely recommend this! A very dark, riveting sci-fi short.

All Around the Watchtower by Ben Haskett | science fiction, short story

As soon as we awoke to those alarms, I just wanted to go back into the pod.

What a great sci-fi short!

And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands in Uncanny Magazine by Sharon Hsu | available for free here. | fantasy, short story

War, it turns out, is the easiest thing of all to make anywhere.

This was utterly gutting, but so beautifully written.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman | available for free here. | lgbt, graphic novel, romance

This is super cute and the art is wonderful. ^____^