I'm unsure why the line spacing is all mess up in this post. I've tried to fix it, but to no avail. If anyone knows how, let met know.
September 28th, 2017, An Incident In The Literary Life of Nathan Arkwright by Allen M. Steele, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A humorous look at an overlooked SF author's misadventure in Nashville.
Opinion: I think this piece speaks some deep truths to what authors want from their writing. Remembrance. I think it does a good job showing how older, established authors might feel when new authors, younger authors, authors from a new generation with different world views, begin to take center stage. I think it's a fun romp with a tinge of fantasy/SF--but nothing too blatant.
September 29th, 2017, The Cabinet by William Preston, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A creepy story that deals with fortune telling, German folklore, and sonmnambulism.
Opinion: I really liked this story in terms of plotting and tone, however, I sometimes had a difficult time following the style of the author. One theme I enjoyed was the unknown being always unknown and therefore frightening.
September 30th, 2017, Head, Scales, Tongue, Tale by Leigh Bardugo, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Series Editor, John Joseph Adams, Editor, Charles Yu. Originally Published in Summer Days and Summer Nights.
Blurb: A story about the mysteries of growing up in a small town and the flurry of confusion when it feels the adult world is leaving you behind.
Opinion: This was a super well written story and I really enjoyed it. The ending was pretty obvious and I think the fantastical part of it could have been accomplished in different ways that could have been more interesting or unexpected, but one of the nice parts about genre is that comfort to know how things might work in the end, I guess. (B)
October 1st, 2017, The Cartographer Wasps And The Anarchist Bees by E. Lilly Yu, Clarkesworld Year 5, editors, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace.
Blurb: A fairy tale allegory about hegemony and enslavement--but also what wonders sometimes comes from such horrible situations.
Opinion: The narration of this piece takes an omniscient tone on how one civilization subjugates another. It is told in a fairy tale style, but with a nice flow. The pacing is great--especially for a piece in which there aren't any "main characters" or protagonists. While there's certainly a faction the author wants you to empathize with, there isn't a single character to connect the reader to the piece. Despite this, it's a well written story that kept my attention from start to finish. (B)
October 2nd, 2017, Letters From Sweden: Letter I. by Mary Wollstencraft.
Blurb: Mary writes about her experience going to shore in Norway to visit with locals.
Opinion: This is not a piece I would read on my own. This fall I am assistant teaching in a freshmen class at The Evergreen State College, and students are reading this piece, assigned by their professor. I feel about this piece of literature, much as I do about other antiquated works; it has merit in the use of language, but surely students would be better served to learn how language is being used now, in today's world, rather than in the 1700's. The reason I believe this is due to the fact that if someone would seek to write in the style of Wollstencraft they would be shamed for the use of punctuation and grammar, as the written language has changed in the last 300 years. Can students learn from this example of pioneering travel writing? Surely. But to what application will be this lesson. Nebulous or concrete? (D)
October 3rd, 2017, Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela, published Clarkesworld: Year 5.
Blurb: In a world where aliens have confiscated books due to the harm "frozen voice" does to them, a young girl and her little brother go in search of their mother who disappeared while searching a hidden library to recover what literature she could.
Opinion: Great story. Well written. It pays homage to The War of The Worlds, and also put me in the spot where I felt as though I could really see, feel, hear the world that had been constructed. I like the allegory to book burning. genocide, Utopian and dystopian societies, all in one story. (C+)
October 4th, 2017, Teenagers From Outer Space by Dale Bailey, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Series Editor, John Joseph Adams, Editor, Charles Yu. Originally published in Clarkesworld, 2016.
Blurb: Alien monsters take over the slummy part of town and start sending their kids to the high school. The year is 1955, and the narrator, Nancy, has a rebellious friend. This rebellious friend, Joan, visits the part of town the aliens have changed and is never the same again.
Opinion: A wonderful tale about integration in schools, bi-racial relationships, and the advent of an era in which rebellion against norms was essential to the United States identity. The narration is super tricky in this piece also, as it slides back and forth in time, letting on more than it outrightly reveals at times, only to increase tension for what is a mystery until later on in the story. (B)
September 20th, 2017, Riding The Blue Line With Jack Kerouac by Sandra McDonald, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A story about a man who meets all his favorite authors when he drives the subways in Boston. He was once a writer, before he fought in the Vietnam war.
Opinion: This is one of those stories that is fantastical in a loose sense--which is often times my favorite type of story. It's more about the main character's lost creativity and ambition than anything fantastical. It's about how a man deals with a war he never wanted to fight, and the things he saw there. It's about loss and love and the will to face that loss. Loved it.
September 21st, 2017, Disturbance In The Produce Aisle by Kit Reed, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: On the surface, a man is tempted by the demon's that occupy a superstore, like Walmart of something.
Opinion: The metaphor here is a strong one. It seems to me to be a story about the dangers and all consuming nature of consumerism. The fact that we live in a society that if we want something we not only have the power to have it, but we SHOULD have it, and if we don't fulfill that want, then there is something wrong with us, seems to be the subject matter of this piece. I like that, but the execution was just so-so.
September 22nd, 2017, Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A story about the importance of historical context set amid a population on a generation ship, none of whom remember Earth, or will see the new world they are traveling to.
Opinion: This is a fantastic novelette that explores historical context in a world that seems not to need any. I feel this is an amazingly pertinent story for our times, as there is a collection of our (U.S.) population that either wants to discount history and say it doesn't matter (i.e. slavery and systemically oppressive systems), or cling to a history that reinforces the status quo (i.e. Confederate monuments, flags, and other paraphernalia associated with outright, and systemically racist behaviors and institutions). To this end, if we're going to account for half (the winners half, i.e. white privileges) of history, then we need to account for the other side as well. This story is about moving forward with the past--the whole past, in mind.
September 23rd, 2017, Dead Men In Central City by Carrie Vaughn, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A vampire western: enough said.
Opinion: While this story is well written for what it is, it doesn't really touch on any deeper concepts for me. That and the vampire aspect of it is completely extracurricular that isn't essential to plot, so why was it even a thing? I believe, in terms of fantastical literature (be it of the SF or F variety) the SF or F aspects of the piece MUST but essential to plot, or else I'm left wondering, like in this instance, why the hell was the main character a vampire? that just didn't need to be in there.
September 24th, 2017, Arriving At Terminal: Xi's Story by James Gunn, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A story about a galactic civilization and how power transfers hands.
Opinion: This piece is written in what I'd call a classic Asimovian style. It's quite dry. Rather heady on concept and light on character. This isn't necessarily bad, but it did create distance from the main character, which seems to be what the author wanted as "this person" is an alien from some far distant planet and Human's only make a brief cameo.
September 25th, 2017, Zigeuner by Harry Turtledove, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: An alternate reality of WWII. The alternate part doesn't come in until the end, which is an, "oh," moment, so I'll not ruin it for you.
Opinion: WWII has just been written about so often that the gravitas has dissipated. The point of this story is to illustrate that anyone, any type of people could have been seduced by Hitler's rhetoric given the circumstances in which the Third Reich rose to power. It's a well written piece, but nothing seemed new about it.
September 26th, 2017, Squamous And Eldritch Get A Yard Sale Bargain by Tby Tim McDaniel, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: Two arcane bookshop owners seek to buy a mystical book from an ignorant woman.
Opinion: I don't enjoy humor writing that much. I don't typically laugh while reading. This is a goofy tale, but nothing that really grabbed me since the tension didn't seem to be there.
September 27th, 2017, The Fourth Hill by Harry Dennis E. Staples, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September, 2017.
Blurb: A young Native American boy, growing up on a reservation in the near future struggles with the abandonment of his parents, the return of his brother from family disownment, and the fear of loss.
Opinion: This is the story that will make me an Asimov's subscriber. Weeks ago I cancelled my subscription of Cemetery Dance Magazine, because I felt it provided platforms to those that are part of the status quo far more than authors of under represented people. While Asimov's doesn't publish as many people of color as they could, or perhaps, should, this story certainly shows that the editor sees value in stories about other peoples, separate from herself, in terms of culture, heritage, etc. Fiyah, is also a fantastic magazine that only publishes peoples from the African diaspora, to which I also subscribe.