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.
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.
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?
“Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.”
This started out reminding me of Hansel & Gretel, then made me really hungry (seriously, the descriptions of food are lush), then it completely took me by surprise, and then wrapped up like a classic folk tale. Definitely worth a read!
We never would have believed, before the dead girls started climbing out of their refrigerators, that people could be literally resurrected by sheer indignation.
I actually loved this. I don’t even know how to describe it, because the plot itself is vague. Dead girls begin reappearing and nobody knows why. It left me with so many questions (why only girls? why are they coming back? what’s going on?) but somehow I’m not frustrated not knowing the answers because the writing was just awesome and strange in a great way. Abstract horror would be how I’d describe this. Definitely recommend!
The monsters rose from their beds, already armored and bristling for another attack on the city below. They came to extinguish light, and hope. She was here to remind them they wouldn’t do it unchallenged.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now, the King’s subjects knew all about this particular forest, and avoided it like the plague, and if the Prince had thought to ask them they could have easily told him why this was so. If you know a blessed thing about royalty, however, you’ll have already guessed that he had bothered doing no such thing.
What an absolute delight this was! This is a humorous short story about three raptors and a princess against an awful prince.
A world like ours is alive. We share it with the plants, animals, fish and insects. We share it. Every living thing is important to sustaining life as we know it …
I’d liken this story to The Wump World, which is one of my all time favourite books, and the one that made me an environmentalist before I could even spell the word. Impressing upon everyone the fragility of our world and the damage that’s being wrought by thoughtless greed is so, so important.
Bonus points for the use of the library in the story. Everyone should be encouraged to go and dig through their tomes to find information. The drawings, too, were very well done.
This one honestly broke my heart and really horrified me. I mean, I think that was the point. And if you like horror stories that are trying to teach a lesson, this one might be for you, but it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
Cold Wind by Nicola Griffith: It was one of the most pernicious fallacies, common the world over: old ways are best. But old ways can outlast their usefulness. Old ways can live on pointlessly in worlds that have no room for them.
This had a really interesting premise and the prose was lovely, though I do wish there was a bit more detail.
Worth Her Weight in Gold by Sarah Gailey: Winslow Remington Houndstooth, creator of the best and rarest breed of hippo in the United States of America, notorious outlaw, handsomest heartbreaker in the American South.
I liked the hippo, but I wish there was a bit more to the story.
Into the Gray by Margaret Killjoy: I only led the foul men with filth on their tongues, the rich men who contrived to rule other men. I only led the men with hatred in their hearts and iron in their hands.
A quick, engrossing story about a thief, the mermaid she’s in love with, and the men they lure to the water’s edge.
A Forest, or a Tree by Tegan Moore: There was something awful, May thought, awful in the original sense of the word, about looking up.
The cover totally caught my eye, but I felt like the story itself needed more.
The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove: “We had to wear yellow stars on our clothes, with Jood on them. That’s Jew in Dutch,” Anne said. “We couldn’t use trams. We had to give up our bicycles. We weren’t allowed to ride in cars. We had to shop late in the afternoon, when there was next to nothing left to buy. We couldn’t even visit Christians in their houses or apartments. We couldn’t go out at all from eight at night to six in the morning. We had to go to only Jewish schools and Jewish barbers and Jewish beauty parlors. We couldn’t use public swimming pools or tennis courts or sports fields or—well, anything.”
This story is an alternate WWII history tale that hit me like a punch. It’s such an important read. Let us never forget the past. Let us never forget what was done to innocent people who deserved life. But this story does something beautiful – rather than painting a grim future, this gives us such a lovely change to the past. In the best, most heartbreaking way. It follows an elderly woman recounting to school kids about how she and her family survived. And the twist will make you cry. I know I did.
This is one of those stories you really wish was real (and perhaps a heartbreaking side-effect of alternative history – all the things that should have been). You know that feeling of joy you get when you reach the end of Inglourious Basterds and just start cheering? It’s that sort of closure.
Selfies by Lavie Tidhar: In some cultures they believe that every photo takes away a little bit of your soul.
I wish there’d been a bit more in terms of detail and explanation, but overall I liked it.
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Gods by Maria Dahvana Headley: You stand at the mouth of your own cave, looking out over your own kingdom. You step off the cliff when you feel like it, and you spread your wings and soar.