Rachael K. Jones attempts to balance heaven and earth in “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me”

Here we go, folks. Review number one of the World Fantasy Award nominees for short fiction. See the full list here

In Rachael K. Jone’s short story “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me”, readers are invited into a fascinating world where earthbound and skybound beings worship each other without much understanding of the other’s reality. We see the world from the perspective of a young, earthbound holy woman-in-training. There’s a whole lot of sin among the earthbound, or at least that’s what they believe about themselves, for our narrator is describes her training as primarily composed of exercises in self denial and suffering.

thoughtsofflyingThe duality of this world is beautifully described in this fantasy that feels like a sketch for a much longer story. Women “step” up and down in the air. The earthbound starve themselves to rise and the skybound eat to fall. But the story’s dualistic vision is not sharpened over the course of the story. The nature of each group of beings is unclear in the beginning and only becomes more ambiguous as the story rolls along. This provides both tension and relief in the story as well as insight on the idea that we may be better off without the labels angel and demon. Continue reading

2017 World Fantasy Award nominees announced

Nominees for the 2017 World Fantasy Awards are out and the list doesn’t hold many surprises though it seems Tor.com has cornered the long fiction category. The anthology category is missing Nightscript II, which was my favorite this year, but I look forward to checking out the ones listed. Below are the short fiction nominees, including a couple of favorites already reviewed here for other awards — Brooke Bolander’s wild Harpy ride and Amal El-Mohtar’s sweetly rebuilt fairytale.

Reviews forthcoming.

Ray Day is coming: why you should memorize writing that moves you / El día de Ray está cerca: ¿Por qué deberías memorizar los escritos que te conmueven?

F451Do you remember the first time you read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? Do you remember Montag’s arrival at the camp in the woods where the drifters who had escaped the authoritarian government memorized books? That scene has never left me, and ever since Bradbury died in 2012, it has seemed more important than ever.

Is it because I love books? Is it because stories are central to my very being? Is it because our current political leadership is trending authoritarian? Is it because net neutrality is in danger? Is it because those grubby drifters strolling through the forest and reciting great works, seemed authentically human in a world where those with power were (are?) technologically advanced, corrupt and soulless?

Yes.

August 22nd is Ray Bradbury’s birthday. Last year I proclaimed the day “Ray Day,” and, just like the drifters, a few friends and I memorized a few lines from stories we love to honor of Bradbury and, more importantly, to honor his message to all of us about the importance of stories and all the interesting, vital, moving, shocking, essential thoughts humankind has ever recorded.  Continue reading

I knew there was something odd about that chaiwalla on the corner….

Because I am a sucker for any good story inspired in part or wholly from the places, people, nature, art, music, history, politics, or social customs of the subcontinent, I had to post this link to an essay by Sami Ahmad Khan about speculative fiction in India. Khan’s just published Aliens in Delhi, a geopolitical science-fiction thriller depicting how contemporary India responds to an alien invasion. Speaking as someone who lived in Delhi for five years, If I were a member of an extraterrestrial race of reptiloids preparing to invade Earth, Delhi is the last place I’d try to invade, but the book sounds fun.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times. We need more writers, native and foreign, sharing the fascinating particularities of the subcontinent with the rest of the world. And, we need better international distribution channels because, as I type this, I’m also trying to order the book and I am getting the dreaded  “not available to ship to the United States” message!!! Damn it, why? Why is this always an issue for books published in India? Ok, rant over. I’ll get it sooner or later. Watch this space.