Puuhhh. That’s me blowing the dust off the blog. Rather than wallow in self incriminations, or even your incriminations, Dear Reader, let’s get to the point. The World Fantasy Awards are just around the corner. Lots of great fiction has been nominated, and we have looked closely at the finalists for best short fiction.
Because I don’t know how to write poetry, let’s call this a prosey.
It came on us as a chill
A sad bad shiver
In the crest of years between day and night
Most forgot the methods of prevention and called it providence
Feed a fever, starve a cold
But we do remember the heat
Weighing on our eyelids
So the way ahead began to blur and fracture
Hearts shriveled, brains brittled while we pretended it was nothing
Starve a fever, feed a cold?
Pretty shiny anger, blade-sharp hate
We were perfect moths
Our jaws and fingers ached with partisan passions
Mad acts, desperate defenses triggering entire communities
Feed a fever and never grow old
Rattling coughs, blindness and bursting hearts
Foolishly distracted us
All real manifestations, but far from the truth
Every bar lowered, the horror of us remained breaking news
Starve a fever til your teeth grow mold
The infection hid in our hollowed bones
Quiet as a cat
A thousand boring inquiries began
While we burned the world down to prove we lived
Fuck a fever, fuck a cold
If you survived the long-rolling heat
The rot started up
And still the contagion eluded all efforts
To name and contain and promise we would again be sane
Social distancing felt like social media
Only more authentic
No more sharing, no more caring
We husks learned to keep our thoughts to ourselves
Huddling in the basements of our being
Survival promised nothing
But the quiet gave space to appreciate what we had become
Carriers of the latest mutation, reborn, resilient and waiting
Note: this is the third review of the World Fantasy Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the list of nominees here and scroll down to find the earlier reviews.
“Little Widow” by Maria Dahvana Headley is a treat from the school of weird fiction. In addition to Nightmare Magazine, the story also appears in the anthology, What the #@&% Is That?, edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, from Saga Press.
Readers are introduced to the story through the eyes of the youngest wife of a religious zealot who’s just organized a mass suicide that he conveniently misses. Not so different from the world we inhabit? Well…it gets a little more bizarre before the end, yet the main characters’ emotional terrain is spot on.
The recently re-named Natalie and her sister wives Reese and Scarlett have been taken in by a couple for no better reason than the availability of spare bedrooms. Their adoptive parents have no real positive qualities noted except for the fact that they don’t ask the girls to go to church, and that’s good enough for the sister wives. The girls are perfectly aware of the oddity of their cult upbringing. On the outside and alone after the deaths of their mothers, it seems at first that their training as “Heaven’s Avengers” is not going to serve them well. Continue reading
Here’s my “spoken book” video for Ray Bradbury Day! If you haven’t posted yet, it’s not too late, no matter what time zone you’re in. Just recite an excerpt of any piece of writing that moves you–fiction or nonfiction, speech or story–and post it online with the hashtag #RayDay. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here.
Last year, I memorized the opening passage of Deathless by Catherynne Valente, and I intended to memorize some more fiction this year. But the weight of my political worries and activism just overwhelmed this year. I had to go back to my spiritual guide, Mohandas Gandhi.