Sunday, 22 June 2014

A semi-random selection of short stories

Yesterday I found myself reading a bunch of free-floating short stories (as in, not part of a collection/anthology), as well as stories from an anthology I'll be reviewing as soon as I finish. I seem to have been reading a lot of short stories lately. This is not a bad thing. I wasn't going to review the free-floaters because I had other reasons for reading them, but then I thought, why not?

So here we have some brief thoughts on some miscellaneous stories by Corinne Duyvis, Aliette de Bodard and Ken Liu, presented in the order I read them.

Corinne Duyvis

"Eight", which you can read here. It's a time travel story with future versions of the main character travelling back in time to try to prevent or mitigate the effects of a terrible war. But is it even possible to prevent the war? And what happens to the futures they leave behind? A very touching story.

"Rule of Threes", which you can read here. Set in the Australian outback (an unusual setting for a non-Australian to write in), the story follows the survivors of a plague of horrible lizard things. (On the other hand, given how the rest of the world sees our fauna, maybe it's not such a surprising choice.) It was a good story, even if it didn't feel quite as Australian as, well, stories by Australians that I've read.

Aliette de Bodard

"Safe, Child, Safe", which you can read here. I think this is set in the same universe as her Obsidian and Blood trilogy (which I haven't read, but which is on my TBR). A priest for the Dead is asked by a desperate father to help his young child. The malady is unusual and the reveal not a happy one.

Ken Liu

"You'll Always Have the Burden With You", which you can read here. This was a story about archaeology on a long-empty alien planet. The idea of the modern minutiae of civilisation being less permanent than Earth's Egyptian pyramids was an interesting one. But what really made this story stand out for me was the "punch-line" towards the end. Brilliant.

"The Paper Menagerie", which you can read here. This had a terribly sad ending. About the son of an American man and his mail-order (more or less) bride, whose mother made him magical origami animals. The son goes through the oh-so-common (dare I say almost universal?) migrant child phase of refusing to speak his mother's language because it marks him as an outsider. The end, as I said, is heartbreaking. It's no wonder this story won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards (the first time any one story took out all three).

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