Note: If you are worried about spoilers stop right now because I can’t promise to avoid them. This is the third review of the short story nominees for the 2015 Nebula Award. Spanish translation below by Daniela Toulemonde.
Alyssa Wong’s horror story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” is bittersweet wonderful–like chewing on coffee beans dipped in white chocolate. The story begins with a bad date that flips the notion of vulnerable female on its head. We see a cute female shapeshifter suck the vilest, most horrible thoughts imaginable out of her deserving victim. Just like that, bam, Wong establishes a rock solid bond between reader and character.
This shapeshifter (called Jenny by most, but Meimei by her mom) considers herself a monster. She literally feeds on people’s thoughts, specifically their dark and negative ones, and takes on their form for a short time, which certainly helps avoid getting caught. This isn’t a split-personality story, but the character is definitely conflicted. Jenny boldly stalks her prey in Manhattan and walks out on a girl who loves her for another shapeshifter who’s even more powerful than she is. Meimei misses her father, maintains a tenuous contact with her mother in Flushing, and can’t forget the girl who loves her. Continue reading
The nominees for the 2015 Nebula Awards have been announced by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and it is certainly an exciting list. Like last year, I shall be reviewing the nominees in the short story category, and I will try to cover a few of the other nominees, but I’m not sure I can get through all of them with my own WIP sitting on the desk and giving me dirty looks.
Short Story Nominees
“Madeleine,” Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
“Cat Pictures Please,” Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
“Damage,” David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
“When Your Child Strays From God,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
“Today I Am Paul,” Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)
Voting for SFWA members is open from March 1 to March 30, and the winners will be announced on May 14 at the 2016 Nebula Conference at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.
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
This month’s short story “Mods” came to me in one setting. Let me be clear, this is incredibly rare. Of course, actually writing it and attempting to edit myself took a little longer, but wow, I love it when the concept appears whole like a newborn baby. Ten fingers, ten toes.
And writing of babies–some recent discussions about the pro-choice/pro-life debate were part of what inspired this story. I’ve been on the pro-choice end of the political spectrum, but I have been wondering how the longterm consequences of this position might spin out, especially now with so many new surgical techniques to address serious injuries and extend life. Genetic research is racing along, too, and recently scientists announced that we can now edit the human germline, which means we have the ability to pass along altered genomes to our offspring and descendants forevermore. This, I understand, is a significantly different situation from previous work editing somatic (nonreproductive) cells.
It seems to me that we’re not entirely ready to think carefully about consequences, and we’re just reassuring ourselves about going forward by calling every possibility a “choice.” Where do we go for guidance? Shouldn’t there be public discussion of issues as important as this? This troubles me more and more, even though I value the potential benefits of scientific discovery, and I certainly don’t want big brother, little mother and the god-fearing to dictate what I can do with my body. So there you have it. A quandary. And quandaries are a rich source of speculative fiction.
El cuento de este mes, “Mods“, vino a mí en una sentada. Seamos claros, esto es increíblemente raro. Obviamente, escribirlo e intentar editarme a mí misma me tomó más tiempo, pero wow, me encanta cuando el concepto aparece como un bebé recién nacido. Diez dedos en las manos y diez en los pies. Continue reading