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.
The 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
Welcome, Readers, to another review full of spoilers. It can’t be helped. Sometimes I have to discuss details beneath the skin. If you accept these terms, please continue.
First things first: “Outside Heavenly” by Rio Youers has a really good opening.
The pillar of black smoke could be seen from Heavenly. The townsfolk looked from their windows and gathered on sidewalks. They knew it was the Roth place burning, and they prayed for the girls but not the man.
With this beginning, Youers does two things well that are critical to the success of any story. First, he puts us right into the scene and tells us who we need to be concerned about, and second, he creates familiar circumstances as a starting point. We see ourselves in the role of townsfolk almost and accept the logic of the following action. Continue reading
In the course of websurfing to find examples of the rare illustrated novel, which I’ve discussed in earlier posts, I came across Horror Australis, a new undertaking by Steve Proposch, Bryce Stevens and Christopher Sequeira. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu cosmology, CTHULHU: DEEP DOWN UNDER is a horror anthology composed of 24 pieces of prose by 24 established Australian genre fiction writers and 24 amazing artists. The team at Horror Australis promises it will astound, horrify, amuse and delight you. And, as this post is going out, there are still a few hours left in their crowdfunding effort, so check it out (and the pledge perks). Here’s wishing them the best of luck in producing this illustrated anthology and advancing the cause of illustrated speculative fiction!
A Happy Thought Experiment
The stories found in the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future reflect a return to “practical techno-optimism,” according to Neal Stephenson science fiction author and a key instigator of the Hieroglyph Project at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University. The motivation for this collection seems to be a realization that a) science by committee and science by budget line is killing innovation and b) the American public’s current fascination with dark dystopian visions of the future is a bad sign of the prevalent attitude toward scientific and technological research. Continue reading