October 12th, 2017, A Patron of The Arts by Bruce Holland Rogers, Forty Nine: A Square of Stories, 2013.
Blurb: A lovely and moving tale about a man in France who becomes a patron of a poor poet who wants for little, but has even less. The poet has created a world about himself that is minimalist, but rich in spirit, as he's written notes to himself on all his furniture and walls about the extravagant and luxurious things he owns--though in reality he lives in a broken down and shabby apartment building. A nice commentary how the artist's vision is their wealth and how far they'll fall monetarily for their art. (C+)
October 13th, 2017, Daddy by Bruce Holland Rogers, Forty Nine: A Square of Stories, 2013.
Blurb: A micro fiction piece (1 page) about how a man and woman who go to the doctor to see if they have become pregnant. The seen is follows them through a park to and from the doctor appointment. The things the man sees on his way there are no threat at all. Birds, dogs in the park, squirrels, but when they walk back through the park, knowing they are pregnant, they only see the threats these animals could becomes. Bird, West Nile Virus. Dogs, Rabies. Etc. A nice look at how perspective can change with the advent of fatherhood, though not long enough to warrant true depth. (C+)
October 14th, 2017, The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Night by E. Lily Yu, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2017, Uncanny Magazine 2016.
Blurb: A fairy tale about a witch who follows a knight to kill three dragons. The knight is probably the most insecure knight I've ever read about, and he's sorta a dickhead. By way of course the witch finds out the truth about the knight (I'm not telling, read it) and frees him, as well as herself, from the illusions that cloud their minds. It's a nice look at heartbreak, love, and manipulations. But with dragons. (B)
October 15th, 2017, When They Came to Us by Debbie Urbanski, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2017, The Sun, 2016.
Blurb: Told in the style of the collective (we) PoV, this story explores integration within communities and schools and the old racist thinking that comes along with those who are unwilling to accept "the other" as someone with as much worth as themselves. This is also a cautionary tale about how prejudice and racism effects the children raised in such communities and how it shapes their moral campuses. A chilling look at a world that is not different from our own. (B)
October 16th, 2017, Phase in Space by Paul O'Neill, East of The Web.
Blurb: This story strikes me as one only a man would ever write. It's also short enough that it doesn't have a full plot. It's more of an anecdote. Or maybe more of a story than a plot. The difference, in my mind, being that a story gives you what happened, while a plot gives you what happened AND why. There is no why in this piece. There is no explanation of how the character has been stranded on this remote planet. Not why or how most of the men of the planet have been killed. We only get the what. While rather humorous, it wasn't much more than a cheap laugh. There were also some awkward sentences. (D-)
October 17th, 2017, Vulcanization by Nisi Shawl, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2017, Nightmare Magazine, 2016.
Blurb: A story about slavery and the subjugation/dehumanization of African Slaves in Brussels circa 1900.
The king is convinced of his own biological and spiritual superiority, but when he enters a machine that condenses spirits/parts of his soul and makes them solid and visible to the eye, he is faced with the fact that his spirits are what he most fears. The slaves he sees more as animals than humans.
It's an interesting story and I like the message, but often times I didn't have a sense of the setting, and so it felt as though much of the actions were happening in a void. (C-)
October 18th, 2017, Openness by Alexander Weinstein, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2017, Beloit Fiction Journal, 2016.
Blurb: A story about love, social interactions, social media, and the baggage we all carry into relationships. In a world in which people don't need to talk to communicate, but instead can shed "layers" of their feelings and memories for individual recipients, dating and love affairs are even more confusing than they are today. When the narrator enters into a relationship with a woman who loves to get off the grid and talk, rather than "wink" emotions and meanings and memories at each other, the narrator is asked to open up in ways he never thought possible--or even considered. This is a moving romance that tells us and warns us against our preconceived notions of what things "should be." Thus far, my favorite story in this collection. (A)