AndyHat (andyhat) wrote,
AndyHat
andyhat

Reading update:

  • Novelettes
    • Goonan, Kathleen Ann. "Angels and You Dogs". Sci Fiction 7/2/03.
      • Evan has recently broken up with his boyfriend Charles. Needing a renter to cover Charles' portion of the house payment, he takes on Lulu and her chihuahua Ambrose as tenants. Lulu seems to have an unusually strong attachment to Ambrose, but it's only after several months that Evan learns just what the nature of that attachment is. This is one of those stories that's very slow to introduce any speculative element, and when it does, it's left ambiguous whether it's all in Lulu's head or if there's something magical going on. Nevertheless, Evan and Lulu are both very likable characters, and the breezy writing is a pleasure to read, so I enjoyed it.

    • Rucker, Rudy & Rudy Rucker, Jr. "Jenna and Me". The Infinite Matrix 2/11/03.
      • Wag is a hacker who runs his own ISP and has a fan site for Jenna Bush. He finally gets his chance to meet Jenna in person when the Secret Service shows up, confiscates his computer equipment, and whisks him off to the Bush ranch in Texas. There he learns about the "clik" (George W. Bush's speaking mannerisms are well captured) that really controls everything going on in the world. The story is a bit slow to get going (requiring large chunks of infodumping that were entirely redundant for a geek like me), but once the plot kicks in, it's a fun and enjoyable romp through all manner of conspiracies. It's also likely to be highly offensive to Republicans, but that's just fine with me.

    • Shepard, Lucius. "Señor Volto". Sci Fiction 2/12/03.
      • Señor Volto is (apparently) a stock figure at Hispanic carnivales who challenges spectators to grab hold of two electrodes attached to a car battery and test their pain tolerance while he gradually increases the voltage. But Aurelio Ucles claims to be the one and only real Volto, and proceeds to tell his rather long story proving it. Aurelio was a hotel owner in the small Honduran coastal town of Trujillo. After an encounter with another Señor Volto, the jealous lover of a possible mistress, his life starts to fall apart until he discovers the mysterious invisible beings that populate the skies. Is he crazy or a visionary? He only charges five lempira to find out. Shepard, of course, is a specialist at evoking third-world ambience in his stories, and this story doesn't disappoint. The setting is present-day earth, and yet so otherworldly that it almost becomes possible to believe the impossible could happen there. Aurelio himself is a superbly drawn reluctant hero, who stumbles along until outside forces help him to discover his own strength and fight the corrupt powers that be. A very good story.

  • Short Stories
    • DeNiro, Alan. "Salting the Map". Fortean Bureau 12/03.
      • Recently graduated with a "quasi-useless degree in English," Casey has taken a job at Originpoint, a specialist in vintage cartography. Two weeks into the job, his crotchety old boss gives him the task of salting the index - adding fictitious place names and populations so that competitors who copy it can be caught. Which seems tedious but easy until Casey gets a phone call correcting his spelling. This is a wonderful little story about the relationship between humans and the maps we draw and the exploration of the unknown geographically and metaphorically.

    • Dornemann, Rudi. "The Constellation Game". Fortean Bureau 12/03.
      • The narrator plays a mysterious game in which he creates lighting effects in the water which are responded to by some sort of beings in the sky according to an unknowable set of rules. My summary really can't do the concept justice, however; Dornemann's descriptions of the game give a true sense of grandeur and beauty which I can't capture in a few words. A very nice little story.

    • Jensen, Jan Lars. "The New Production Lines". Descant #122.
      • This story consists of a series of anecdotes about various groups trying to reconstruct by hand the objects they remember from a time when there were computers and machines to manufacture things. Mildly amusing, and I suppose there's some attempt at a deep metaphor about the fetishization of objects in the modern world, but overall, not terribly engaging.

    • Lake, Jay. "The Set of All Even Primes". Fortean Bureau 12/03.
      • A humorous, venomous vignette on the pains of divorce. Almost too clever for its own good, but amusing (or, I suppose, painful, if the events are closer to home).

    • Lansdale, Joe R. "Artificial Man". A Little Green Book of Monster Stories .
      • A short-short told in first-person by Frankenstein as he kills Master and escapes into the world. Gruesome, yet funny.

    • Salaam, Kiini Ibura. "Ferret". The Infinite Matrix 1/1/03.
      • Lost in space, Grandfather is the ship's pilot, navigating according to the dictates of a strange divination ceremony involving a ferret biting into blocks of wood. It's all very weird, but hiding behind the strangeness is a very neat little plot.

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