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
Note: this is the second review of the World Fantasy Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the list of nominees here.
“Das Steingeschöpf” scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. The tone and narrative style immediately placed me in early 20th century Europe with its quaint depiction of a German village and a young journeyman of sorts just beginning his career. This is no criticism. Unlike so many stories today, G.V. Anderson’s style allowed me to clearly picture the place, the narrator and the fantastic creature, Ambroise, who needs mending. Within the first two paragraphs I was completely immersed in the story.
Frau Leitner from Bavaria had written to request a small restoration—I took the southbound train from Berlin, made two changes, and disembarked at the end of the line in a small town tucked between the pleats of the mountains. A ragged man with a horse-drawn cart was waiting for me. We travelled by lamplight up a steep, icy path to the front door of an old timber chalet.
All was dark and quiet. I jumped down, the snow crackling beneath my weight, and turned to thank the driver. He’d already clicked to the horse and was turning the cart around, grimly avoiding my eye.
Perhaps my appreciation for the author’s descriptions seems a little sentimental. As I said, I didn’t expect the story to move me, but it did. This is a beautiful, melancholy story that captures the fleeting peace between the two world wars and, somehow, a turning point in human consciousness about itself.
Okay, I know that’s a really large claim, but that’s what I felt about it. Let me try to explain. Continue reading
Note: This is review number five of the six short stories nominated for the Nebula Award in 2017. You will find the full list of nominees here, and the other reviews this year in the most recent posts.
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wild Flowers” by Alyssa Wong is about two tragic sisters with great love for one another despite their differences. They have the power to bend space and time. When one of the sisters dies, the other feels compelled to try, try and try again to change the circumstances leading to her sister’s death.
The depictions of the sisters feels true, if not extremely deep. There are some sweet descriptions of their closeness as young girls and the pain of separation when they’re older. Sibling relationships are subtle and powerful in their own right, and the notion that the balance of the universe might depend on the harmony of two sisters is an attractive idea. The story’s strongest feature is the emotional frenzy surrounding the main character’s emotions. Continue reading
I wanted to write a post about voice, being impressed recently with Norman Partridge’s voice in Dark Harvest, a Stoker Award winner, but I finished it so long ago I’d have to go back and reread to tell you all the reasons why Partridge’s voice is so right for this fast-paced, noir-ish horror story. I don’t have time right now. I have taken up a new day job that is working me hard (I’ve lost three pounds in two weeks.), and I have not been reading or writing much of anything. Therefore, in an effort to get 2017 moving, I thought I would share a scene from chapter 6 of the WIP. The chapter still needs work, but I like this encounter. I hope you will, too. Continue reading