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
When I reviewed The Fifth Season, the first novel in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, I focused on what the violence in the novel was telling us and how the idea of violence shaped the story and the reader. The second novel in the series, The Obelisk Gate, is about love and hate, the fundamental motivations for all actions. So, if you’re up for a conversation about that, read on–just know that there will be spoilers.
Our hero from the first novel, Essun, is still in the underground community of Castrima where we left her at the end of the first novel. She’s a bit lost herself because she lost her daughter’s trail and doesn’t know how to find her, but she also has found a few people (and others) who care for her, and a place in a community that knows she is an orogene and tolerates her presence nonetheless. Her old love Alabaster has made it to Castrima as well. He is dying after having caused the rift that has brought on a season of destruction, but he tries in his impatient, imperfect way to teach her what she needs to know to finish what he started. No, the objective is not destruction of the world. The objective is an end to the seasons and re-establishing the planetary balance that will make it possible for humans (and others) to thrive again.
The novel also follows Nassun, Essun’s only daughter and surviving child, on her journey south with her homicidal father. Nassun is just leaving childhood, physically, mentally and emotionally, and Jemisin does an outstanding job of portraying the capacities and vulnerabilities of a girl that age. We see her navigate the unstable terrain that is her father’s mind–a man who could bludgeon her three-year-old brother to death because he discovered the boy was an orogene, yet tenuously hangs on to Nassun to take her somewhere he’s heard she can be cured. Why? Love. Twisted, damaged and smashed love. Nassun valiantly attempts to keep the image of her father in her heart and mind despite what she knows about him. Why? Love. The other parent, Essun–the one who pushed her as a child, hurt her so she would know how to protect herself, the one who is not there–becomes an object of hate, though the child does not clearly acknowledge this as her fear and desperation turns her in that direction. Continue reading
This is the fourth review of the nominees for the World Fantasy Award for best short fiction in 2015. Winners will be announced in October. Other reviews are here, here and here. The Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde.
“The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” by Sam J. Miller relates an alternative history of the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the mix of tensions that led up to the initial rebellion. Employing a creative story structure that features passages from oral interviews with people at the event, Miller doesn’t focus on a new timeline, but explores the mystery of an imagined trigger event on a night in history that actually did mark a significant change in the LGBTQ movement.
Readers are introduced to several characters at the Stonewall that night. One of the primary characters is Craig Perry, a gay black man furious with a world that has imposed such tremendous loneliness upon him and injustice on the people he identifies with. The other central character is Ben Lazzarra, a cop who is unable to tell even his twin brother (also a cop) that he is gay. The story evolves as each character describes the events leading up to their decision to go to the club and what they experienced the night of the trigger incident. The compiler of these interviews, a former NY Times reporter, narrates the story from a distance, explaining the significance of the raid for the movement and the inability to authenticate the supernatural occurrences that witnesses reported, while also repenting for her own culpability in the oppression of LGBTQ people. Continue reading