April’s short story comes from the well of worries about altering humans / El cuento de abril viene de una variedad de preocupaciones acerca de la modificación de humanos

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.

EspanolEl 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

Nebula Nominee Review: “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon / Reseña del cuento nominado al Premio Nebula: “Jackalope Wives” de Ursula Vernon

Note: This is the fourth of the Nebula Award short story nominees to be reviewed on this blog.

Full of desert magic, “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon is a story about wishes, choices and sacrifice. I read it quickly the first time even though there is a lot of dialogue in the second half. The writer has such command over the story that I never questioned where she was taking me.

JACKALOPEIn a nutshell, the story describes the mysterious lives of jackalope wives, who shed their skins and dance under the half-full moon. Sans their rabbit skins, these beautiful human-looking creatures attract young men like magnets though they’re very rarely seen much less caught. Still, a boy manages to catch one, and things don’t work out the way he wanted. It’s up to his grandmother to take care of things as best she can. Continue reading

Nebula Nominee Review: “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” by Matthew Kressel / Reseña del cuento nominado al Premio Nebula: “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” de Matthew Kressel

Note: This is the third review of a short story nominee for the Nebula Awards. Reviews of other nominees can be found here and here. More to come.

At first I thought I was in for a silly ride with Jar Jar Binks and company, but nope, author Matthew Kressel pulled up, and “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” turned out to be a touching space opera. I was a little confused about the state of the characters at the end but that did not outweigh the strengths of this short story.

The story opens with two creatures in a space ship on a star-harvesting mission. One–the Eye–is a representation of a supreme (but not infallible) intelligence that has been consuming stars and civilizations for a very long time. The second is the Meeker, a being evidently created to carry out the physical and tactile duties necessary to serve the Eye. When they come upon some space junk they have never encountered before, the Eye is able to regenerate the life form encased there. Continue reading

Review: Nebula Award nominee “The Breath of War” by Aliette de Bodard / Reseña: cuento nominado al Premio Nebula “The Breath of War” de Aliette de Bodard

This review of “The Breath of War” by Aliette de Bodard is the second review of the seven short story nominees for the 2014 Nebula Awards. As you know from earlier posts, each story gets two reads. The first read is my measure of overall satisfaction with the story. The second read is more critical and a chance for me to reconsider my gut reaction.

The first read of “The Breath of War” pretty much hit my gut like a nice balanced meal I might pack for lunch at work — protein, vegetables, fruit — no dessert.

carved_stone_woman_sitting_haiti_1The story is set in a place that I interpreted as something like a mountainous, other worldly Southeast Asia. This world, Voc, is recuperating from a civil war. Our pregnant protagonist is a woman named Rechan who is nearing her due date. She is on a critically important journey into the mountains to meet her breath-sibling, a being who becomes sentient when an adolescent carves one from native stone (a common practice on Voc). There is a lifelong bond between the carver and her breath-sibling, who, in addition to ensuring babies breathe at birth, become part of the extended human family. Continue reading