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

Advertisements

“Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar highlights the writer’s gifts

Note: this is review number four of the nominees for the Nebula Award for short fiction this year. You can see all the nominees listed here.

heavy-iron-shoes

Who knew there really were such shoes? These are reportedly displayed at a medieval crime museum in Rothenburg, Germany.

Amal El-Mohtar is no stranger to accolades for her writing. She’s been a Nebula finalist before and won the Locus Award as well as several Rhysling Awards for poetry. I, however, have not been particularly thrilled with some of her more recent stories. So when I saw that she was nominated for the Nebula again this year, I worried that I would be handing out another tough review of an author whose work I want to like.

I am happy to report that my worries were misplaced. This is the story I’ve been waiting for from El-Mohtar. It’s both simpler in form and far, far, better in execution than earlier ones recently nominated for awards.

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, published in Uncanny Magazine, is a sweet fantasy told from the perspectives of two characters who have painful lives involving curses and shame. One of the main characters is Tabitha who is crossing the world wearing iron shoes that must be worn out before they can be removed. And she is on the fourth of seven pairs. Despite her mangled feet and the pain, she sees beauty in the world all around her. Still, she cannot stop to make a new home. The other character, Amira, sits atop a glass mountain where she feels safe on her glass throne as long as she doesn’t move. Amira appreciates the peace that comes from keeping the world at bay far below her perch, yet she is lonely. Continue reading

“Things with Beards” by Sam J. Miller–a short story bursting at the seams / “Things with Beards” de Sam J. Miller – un cuento lleno a reventar

Note: This is the second review of a short story nominated for the 2017 Nebula Awards. You can see all the nominees here, and my earlier review of “This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad here.

SamSketch1220659-1

Sam J. Miller (and friend?)

So here’s the short version of “Things with Beards” by Sam J. Miller: Protagonist Jimmy (Jim?) McReady has returned to New York in the summer of 1983 after a mysterious end to his work at a research station in Antarctica. He meets an old friend who’s involved with an underground group bent on payback for the cops harassing and abusing blacks. McReady is gay and white, and he identifies with his friend’s political agenda despite his Irish family, some of whom are cops. During the course of the story McReady discovers that he and his friend Hugh are infected with what is called at that time — the “gay cancer”. He also intuits that he is inhabited by a monster of some sort that claims great stretches of his memory and also attacks and inhabits practically everyone with whom McReady comes into close contact.

No, this is not a novel. It’s a freaking short story. Continue reading

“This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad is also not a story

Note: This is the first review of the 2017 Nebula Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the whole list here.

Well, here I am, starting off these reviews of all the nominated short stories published in 2016, and I’m going to irritate some readers and writers right away. This was not my intention, but I was really disappointed by “This is Not a Wardrobe Door” by A. Merc Rustad. It’s full of lovely images, and it might become a story–it might be part of a longer story–but it is not a story by itself.

Backing up, here’s the tale in a nutshell: Two friends, living in two different worlds, are seeking ways to return to each other. Ellie, the girl living in a world that seems to be the world as we know it, is particularly interested in re-entering her friend Zera’s world, which is quite fantastic and colorfully imagined. Continue reading