AndyHat (andyhat) wrote,

I'm getting further and further behind on writing up my story impressions; hopefully I'll get caught up some more later tonight.

  • Novellas
    • Tomasula, Steve. In & Oz. Ministry of Whimsy.
      • Oz is the shining city of the future, full of gorgeous skyscrapers, beautiful cars, beautiful people, and pervasive art and music. In is the gritty industrial zone surrounding Oz, where the common laborers live and work. In is also where the "real" artists may be found, the ones who refuse to compromise their work for commercial purposes. Thus, there's Photographer (all the characters are named after their vocation), who refuses to use film in his cameras, and Composer, who writes music designed to be unplayable. They soon discover a comrade in Mechanic, who decides that rather than fixing vehicles, he should re-work them to capture the essence of vehicleness, even if they are thus rendered undrivable. They're also eventually joined by Designer, who lives and works in Oz designing vehicles, but begins to question whether she's doing the right thing to compromise her artistic ideas to the needs of commerce. All of this is described with a deft and humourous touch, and nestled amongst all of the allegory and social commentary is a charming love story. This is a fantastic novella, for those who enjoy this sort of playfully offbeat kind of writing.
  • Short Stories
    • Bishop, Michael. "Cicada, Inc.". Interzone 1/03.
      • Dot ran away from her rural Oklahoma farm at 15. She meets up with three losers, but they've just finished law school and are on their way to meet up with a corporate lawyer who will give them all cushy jobs, and they invite her along. Dot's life turns out to be rather bizarre as these three attempt to control her while needing her skills to actually run their law firm. A humorous story, though also rather sad.
    • Braunbeck, Gary A. "The Moral Lessons of Second-Hand Smoke". Sorties, Cathexes, and Personal Effects.
      • Earl smokes; his family doesn't, and tries to guilt trip him into stopping. But he will have his revenge. As one of those non-smokers who's annoyed by smoking in my vicinity, I found it hard to sympathize with Earl, so the story didn't really work for me.
    • Butler, Chris. "The Smart Minefield". Interzone 1/03.
      • John has just joined a minesweeping team on some far away planet, and they're off to clear a path through a minefield so the tanks can get through. But the minefield is "smart", able to rearrange itself to compensate for deactivated mines. John and the team must come up with a variety of ways to outsmart the field. This story doesn't have much in the way of characters or plot, so it must succeed or fail on the quality of the puzzle presented. Unfortunately, the ideas behind the minefield struck me as somewhat silly, so the story didn't work well for me.
    • Copley-Woods, Haddayr. "Gramercy Park". Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats.
      • Deadening herself to the pain of her mother's physical abuse, our narrator finds that she has the ability to become stone. When she turns 16, she runs off to New York, where she discovers the sculpture garden in Gramercy Park. There she becomes a sculpture and watches the years go by, largely immune to the ravages of time. This is a beautifully written story all the way through. I especially loved the latter part of the story which features an astonishingly effective technique of writing from multiple simultaneous perspectives. This is one of the best fantasy stories I've read this year.
    • De Lint, Charles. A Circle of Cats. Viking.
      • Exploring the woods near her home, Lillian is bitten by a snake. She is soon discovered by the forest cats whom she has befriended. Unable to cure the poison, the cats decided to save her by turning her into an animal which has not been poisoned, and thus Lillian wakes up as a cat. This is a cute story, though I don't think it's one of de Lint's best. For my taste, the plotting was too obvious once Lillian became a cat. On the other hand, the Charles Vess illustrations are wonderful.
    • Garcia, Victoria Elizabeth. "Wally's Porn". Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats.
      • Wally Hargrove writes porn for a living, but finds himself entirely unable to satisfy women in real life. He's tried everything, even visiting a fortune teller for advice. The fortune teller's advice doesn't seem overly helpful, but he does meet a girl in the waiting room. Wally is a nicely drawn character, full of amusing contradictions, and the plot of the story is quite charming despite the heavy erotic content. I enjoyed it.
    • Hockenberry, John. "Big Wow". Metropolis 1/03.
      • Two archaeologists from the future have come to Manhattan to excavate a restaurant renovated in 2000. The science fictional elements are largely unnecessary; the characters could just as well be two architectural critics of the current day raving about the design. As fiction, I didn't think this was particularly successful.
    • Hoffman-Dachelet, David J. "Braiding". Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats.
      • Becky and her husband have nearly identical hair, and their friends joke about how alike they look. But are they in the right roles in the relationship? The story ends with a rather unexpected twist on that question. The story is sensuously written and enjoyable, though the characters and plot both seemed somewhat underdeveloped.
    • Lain, Douglas. "The Headline Trick". Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats.
      • Scott and Ian work as telemarketers, except Scott spends his shifts cutting headlines out of newspapers while Ian and the rest of his colleagues are struggling to make quota. Over drinks, Ian learns that Scott's family has a bizarre system whereby they deposit copies of the day's bad news in a safety deposit box or ATM, and get cash back from some unknown source. But when Ian starts to take advantage of the scheme, he discovers that those around him pay the price. It's a rather strange gimmick, but the the story does some very neat things with it. All of the characters are interesting, and the quirky plot makes for an excellent story.
    • Mamatas, Nick. "". Rabid Transit: A Mischief of Rats.
      • What if Joan of Arc lived today and had a blog? It would probably read something like this story, starting out with typical teenage blog angst about parties and social life, and then God speaks to her and she's off to drive the English out of France (pre-emptively, since the English aren't actually in France in 2003). A hilarious satire of the blog reading experience, and a nifty variation on the Joan of Arc story.
    • Murray, Yxta Maya. "The Pilgrim". Metropolis 1/03.
      • Friar Diego de Landa is somehow transported from the 16th century to the 21st to tour the new Cathedral of our Lady in Los Angeles. This travel travel conceit is mostly just an excuse to provide a walkthrough of the cathedral through the eyes of a character familiar with the native architecture that influenced it. As architectural writing, I enjoyed it, but it's not much of a story.
    • Sterling, Bruce. "The Growthing". Metropolis 1/03.
      • Milton is the caretaker of an entirely organic Texas energy facility. Various engineered plants collect solar and wind power, recycle nutrients, and provide furnishings and food for Milton and his daughter. Not much plot, but Sterling packs in a bunch of neat ideas about possible organic technologies.
    • Urbancik, John. "The Former King of France". Sound & Vision.
      • A homeless scavenger offers his coat to a destitute French-speaking woman, after which he mysteriously finds himself in Paris. This is an elegantly written and extremely concise little fable; quite enjoyable.
    • Urbancik, John. "Magic Act". Sound & Vision.
      • A magician makes the girl's boyfriend disappear, and she doesn't come back. An amusing but slight short-short.
    • Urbancik, John. "The Monkey Man". Sound & Vision.
      • The Monkey Man predicts disasters, and he always seems to be right. A disturbing little short-short, hinting at all kinds of nasty and disturbing events.
    • Zivkovic, Zoran. "Line on the Palm". Interzone 1/03.
      • The fortune teller is visited by a client who has become obsessed with the fact that his palm has a short life line. The fortune teller prefers to give him good news, and claims that he will in fact have a long life, but the young man greets her prediction with despair and disbelief. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that this story becomes a rather nifty meditation on the nature of destiny. I liked it.
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