“The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” by Sam J. Miller imagines the potential force at the nexus of rage, sorrow and love / “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” de Sam J. Miller imagina la fuerza potencial del nexo entre la rabia, la tristeza y el amor

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 herehere 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

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World Fantasy Award nominee “The Deepwater Bride” brings a comedic touch to impending doom / El nominado al Premio Mundial de Fantasía “The Deepwater Bride” aporta un toque de comedia a la tragedia inminente

jellyThis is the third 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 and hereThe Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde.

The Deepwater Bride,” by Tamsyn Muir, has found lots of fans this year. It’s been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula, and a Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction as well as the World Fantasy Award (and who knows what else I’m missing).

“Bride” is a delightful piece of weird fiction–thoroughly infected with the Lovecraftian mythos yet confounding it at the same time. (You can read Muir’s comments on how this came about at the Fantasy & Science Fiction website.)

In a familiar, yet not-quite-normal small town, we are introduced to Hester Blake, a lonely teenager who has inherited the gift of prophecy. It’s part of her birthright in a family that has chronicled the ebb and flow of appearances by “the many-limbed horror who lies beneath the waves” for generations. She lives with an aunt at the edge of town and the edge of society, never quite fitting in with other people, who are slated for destruction, and resigned to the fate of not lasting very long themselves.

Be warned–spoilers ahead. Continue reading

Astonishing beauty lies in the eye of the predator: The Devourers by Indra Das / Belleza increíble yace en los ojos de un depredador: The Devourers de Indra Das

Note: The Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde. 

Having read several of Indra Das’s short stories (reviewed here), I ordered his first novel, The Devourers, as soon as I could find the North American edition from Del Rey Books. It arrived when I was in the last leg of my WIP’s second draft, so I sat it on my desk and admired the cover, illustrated by Chris Panatier, for three weeks before I so much as read the title page.

Devourers

Sorry for the sloppy photo of The Devourers cover. Hats off to artist and illustrator Chris Panatier for capturing the novel’s wonder and beauty.  

When I finally started the first chapter I was afraid I had such high expectations I would be disappointed and absolutely unfair to the author. I was not disappointed. I was overwhelmed by Das’s shape shifters, the beautiful writing and the creatively imagined Indian landscapes from the 17th century to today. This one is going to win prizes, people. I promise you that.

Here’s a little taste of Das’s writing.

When the sun rested at noon we passed a group of resting dervishes under the greened shade of a chinar tree, turbaned heads bobbing in a drugged stupor from drinking bhang, and I wondered whether I, too, had been drugged into a trance days long. I felt fevered, whether from the strangeness of these days or simply from catching a cold I couldn’t say. The holy men basked in winter light falling through the leaves, their reddened eyes rolling to watch us pass them by, their fingers soiled from crushing the buds and leaves they put into their potions. I wanted to ask them: Can you see this bone-white man walking beside me, dressed in pelts and hauling fardels? Can you see the thing he can become? Have you spied it at night, galloping across the land? Gévaudan peered at them with hungry eyes, and the air sang with silence.

The Devourers begins as a buddy story, and our protagonist, a history professor named Alok Mukherjee, is a bit Vyasa, a bit Watson, a bit Clarice Starling. His casually met counterpart identifies himself as half werewolf in their first encounter and puts Alok into a trance where he has visions of even stranger characters in a story that the half werewolf tells him. The history professor is hooked and compelled to discover more about this strange man, and so was I. Continue reading

Review: “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar–nominated for World Fantasy Award / Reseña: “Pockets” de Amal El-Mohtar– nominado al Premio Mundial de Fantasía

Note: This is the second review of a nominee for the 2016 World Fantasy Awards. You can see my review of Alyssa Wong’s nominated story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” here. (Wong’s story also won the Nebula Award this year.) The Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde.

Nominated for the World Fantasy Award for short fiction published in 2015, Amal El-Mohtar’s story “Pockets” is indeed very short. Unfortunately the story’s substance is also very thin. Now, before you dear readers skewer me for this opinion, let me concede that I may not be the best reader for El-Mohtar’s work. I’ve enjoyed several of her earlier stories, but I admit that her recent Nebula-nominated story “Madeleine” also did not completely satisfy my taste in fantasy short stories.

“Pockets” is primarily communicated through dialogue among three characters, and this is not the story’s problem. El-Mohtar is incredibly gifted at writing dialogue that is well-paced and illustrative of scenes without excessive stage direction. The story focuses on the exchange between three women who are trying to understand the reason why multiple odd things are somehow materializing in one woman’s pockets. It is sweet and very thoughtful. And that’s it. It’s got no umpf. Continue reading