AndyHat (andyhat) wrote,
AndyHat
andyhat

The RTSFS holiday party was Saturday night. It was fun. Thanks to auryn29a for hosting!

Weekend reading:

  • Novelettes
    • Rainey, Stephen Mark. Epiphany: A Flying Tiger's Story. Delirium Books.
      • Jack Wyndham has just made ace shooting down Japanese fighters over Burma when his plane is damaged beyond repair and he's forced to bail out. Parachuting down towards the jungle, three Japanese fighters take a strafing run at him; but they are summarily destroyed when they encounter an invisible barrier over the strangely silent jungle in which Jack is about to land. The malevolent force present in the jungle remains off-stage for most of the story, and when it does appear, it is largely incomprehensible to Jack. This is the first entry in Delirium's "Dark Homage" series honoring Lovecraft, and the thematic connection to Lovecraft's inscrutable dark gods is obvious, but Raimey has created a highly effective story in its own right.
    • Thomas, Jeffrey. Godhead Dying Downwards. Earthling Publications.
      • In 1883, Father Venn is returning to his home parish after spending some time in London searching for meaning in his life when he passes a carnival. In the curiosities tent, he discovers a sheep's head with empty eye sockets - until viewed through the special lens Venn posseses, which reveals demonic red eyes in the skull. Inquiring as to its source, he learns that it came from Candleton, the very town where his church used to be. Godhead Dying Downwards incorporates the tensions between Protestants and Catholics (who have only recently reestablished their church in England), and between Christians and the more primitive religions of the English Islands. It has theological musings on God's role in shaping the ongoing destiny of mankind. It has mysterious deaths, ghosts, and angels. It's astonishing that Thomas makes it all work together. Unfortunately, I found Venn himself to be a rather uninteresting character; he views the events of the story in an oddly detached way that I found made it hard to become fully engaged with the story. So, this is an extremely ambitious story that unfortunately didn't quite work for me.
  • Short Stories
    • Bursztynski, Sue. "The Sword from the Lake". Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 2/03.
      • Nimue, Viviane, and the crone Angharad have returned to the land of faerie to retrieve the sword which they must present to King Arthur. Another story that assumes the reader is familiar with the details of the Arthurian mythos, which I'm not, so I didn't really see the point.
    • Coward, Mat. "By Hand or by Brain". Interzone 1/03.
      • Ken and Trish work at TexTel, a UK branch of a US-based call center company. Ruth, their boss, is extremely unpleasant, but when Trish calls her a "witch", she doesn't seem to be speaking figuratively. When Ken and Trish decide to lead a unionization effort, strange things happen between Trish and Ruth. For a story that's ultimately a fantasy, the unionization process (and the call center operations) are presented quite realistically. However, they're also not all that interesting, and the story's one big joke isn't really enough to keep things amusing for the entire length. So, interesting but not great.
    • Di Filippo, Paul. "Bare Market". Interzone 1/03.
      • Adamina Smythe is the Market. Brilliant in her own right, at 17 years old she was the first human subject for a new wetware implant. After receiving it, she became the ultimate market arbitrator, increasing trading efficiency and leading to a near utopia as the markets skyrocket with their newfound efficiency. The only potential problem is if she ever experiences strong emotion that interferes with her wetware interface. The story is told in the form of an interview with a reporter from Nuevo Vanity Fair, and its tone is perfect for its utopian satire. Adamina and the reporter Glen are both quite likable characters, and as implausible as the story is, I liked it.
    • Ireland, Davin. "Combustible Eden". Jupiter #1.
      • Sent as archaeologists to a world whose inhabitants had wiped themselves out in a nuclear holocaust, Dan and Creely are searching for any remains of the ancient civilization. Unknown to Creely, Dan has secretly already discovered some mysterious installations, which one day he offers to show Creely. First they view a strange forest of petrified trees; from there they enter the invisible domes where the native inhabitants appear to live in perfect harmony, despite an amazing variety of species. An enjoyable story with a surprising and quite satisfying ending.
    • Kerry, Tom. "Murder on Station 5". Jupiter #1.
      • There's been a murder on Deep Station 5, and the security chief, who only took the job for the money, has his first case. While the setting of Deep Station 5 is somewhat unusual (it's an extremely impoverished station where the inhabitants live in squalor), the plot ends up being quite pedestrian, and the writing itself definitely needs some editing.
    • Rosenman, John B. "The Child of Her Dreams". Jupiter #1.
      • Dawn dreams of giving birth, and the next morning, she does indeed find her new daughter sharing her bed. But by the time Dawn is dressed, her daughter has grown into a toddler. The rapid aging continues, but this has happened before. Each time in the past, Dawn has moved to avoid the inevitable questions on the birth of a new child, but this time she chooses to stay. This is a nicely done story, with a surprising and oddly hopeful ending.
    • Smith, Tom. "Cold Adventure". Jupiter #1.
      • She's about to fly off-planet. He's desperately in love with her, and makes a desperate hike up the mountain on the frozen moon 19CE4. He dies, leaving behind nothing but a legacy of his great love. A cute but unspectacular story.
    • Tidhar, Lavie. "The Breeding Grounds". Jupiter #1.
      • Matt Cohen is director of a lab attempting to create emergent artificial life, a goal he is no longer certain is worth pursuing as he is hounded by protesters who object to the rapid creation, mutation, and destruction of possible intelligent lifeforms. The story is ok, but the attempt to build sympathy for the not-yet intelligent artificial life forms failed for me, so I ultimately found the story a bit clunky.
    • Whiteley, Monissa. "Fairy Prince". Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 2/03.
      • The guards are searching for Prince Zeteres; Raoul knows where he is and wants the reward, so he tells his carefully constructed story of the wizard and his two female companions who came to the inn the night before, and the events that ensued when he and his elvish companion Gar and the dwarf Manion tried to meet the ladies. This story doesn't have pretensions of being anything other than light comedic fantasy, and as such, it succeeds fairly well.
Outside SF, I also read the first three stories in the current Glimmer Train (Winter 2004): "Colored Glass" by Doug Crandell, "Snack Cakes" by Greg Downs, and "Re-construction" by Mandy Dawn Kuntz. I didn't much care for the first two (as with many "mainstream" stories, nothing really happens and the characters weren't interesting enough to make up for the lack of plot), but I did like "Re-construction". It's told in first-person, alternating between the voices of Corin, a widow, and Ash, the boy whom she rescued and adopted after his house burnt down, killing his parents and sister. Corin and Ash are both sweet characters, and the years they have together rush by until it is time to be parted once again.
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