Note: I’m trying to post reviews on as many of the short fiction nominees for the Bram Stoker Award as possible before the winners are named April 30th at StokerCon 2017, but I cannot promise to get to all. The full list of short fiction nominees can be found here, including links to those stories available online.
“Reasons I Hate my Big Sister” by Gwendolyn Kiste is told from the point of view of the unnamed younger sister in a family whose elder daughter is inexplicably shedding her skin and transforming into something other than human. It’s a fine example of what Mercedes Yardley calls “whimsical horror”. It’s not silly horror, not juvenile, but it is tender.
Our narrator numbers her complaints against her older sister, Elise, and harbors the resentments common to younger siblings. She is young, jealous and petty, but the reader immediately grasps how insubstantial these complaints are. The narrator’s love and admiration for Elise become more apparent as Elise becomes less human and other humans in the story become more monstrous.
Only siblings, and especially adolescent siblings, can truly appreciate the forces that both repel and bind us to one another during transformation, and Kiste does a super job of conveying that in this short tale. Kiste doesn’t ask too much from the reader. This is a simple and straightforward story that is well written. The ending is heroic. It’s a story I will be happily sharing with teenagers in my orbit.
This story appears in the wonderful anthology Nightscript II, edited by C.M. Muller and published by Chthonic Matter.
Note: This is the second review of a short story nominated for the 2017 Nebula Awards. You can see all the nominees here, and my earlier review of “This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad here.
Sam J. Miller (and friend?)
So here’s the short version of “Things with Beards” by Sam J. Miller: Protagonist Jimmy (Jim?) McReady has returned to New York in the summer of 1983 after a mysterious end to his work at a research station in Antarctica. He meets an old friend who’s involved with an underground group bent on payback for the cops harassing and abusing blacks. McReady is gay and white, and he identifies with his friend’s political agenda despite his Irish family, some of whom are cops. During the course of the story McReady discovers that he and his friend Hugh are infected with what is called at that time — the “gay cancer”. He also intuits that he is inhabited by a monster of some sort that claims great stretches of his memory and also attacks and inhabits practically everyone with whom McReady comes into close contact.
No, this is not a novel. It’s a freaking short story. Continue reading
Note: This is the first review of the 2017 Nebula Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the whole list here.
Well, here I am, starting off these reviews of all the nominated short stories published in 2016, and I’m going to irritate some readers and writers right away. This was not my intention, but I was really disappointed by “This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad. It’s full of lovely images, and it might become a story–it might be part of a longer story–but it is not a story by itself.
Backing up, here’s the tale in a nutshell: Two friends, living in two different worlds, are seeking ways to return to each other. Ellie, the girl living in a world that seems to be the world as we know it, is particularly interested in re-entering her friend Zera’s world, which is quite fantastic and colorfully imagined. Continue reading
Drowned in my WIP writing and editing I have once again seriously neglected the blog, but the dearth of new posts is over for now. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFW) has announced the nominees for the 51st Annual Nebula Awards, to be held in Pittsburgh May 18-21. The full list of nominees published in 2016 can be found here, but in keeping with tradition, my reviews over the next several weeks will focus on the nominees in the short story category, with occasional reviews of some of the novelettes and novellas.
2016 Short Story Nominees
But wait, this is not the only good news for readers like me who have precious little time and want to invest in really good speculative fiction that kind of, sort of fits in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) also recently announced the Preliminary Ballots for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards. The awards will be presented aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on April 29th. Continue reading