Review of World Fantasy Award nominee “The Neurastheniac” by Selena Chambers

This is the fifth and final review of the nominees for the World Fantasy Award for best short fiction in 2015. Winners will be announced in October. Other reviews are hereherehere and here

If I wanted to read “The Neurastheniac” by Selena Chambers I had to order the anthology it’s published in, which I didn’t mind doing, but discovering that Cassilda’s Song was created to pay tribute to “The King in Yellow” put me off right from the start.

I like a good bit of weird fiction. I even like weird fiction that pays tribute to particular fictional mythos (See my review of “The Deepwater Bride” for example.), but I have my limits. All of us do. Weird fiction that requires me to delve into a mythos I don’t find particularly compelling has to be either stylistically interesting and conceptually fresh or stylistically fresh and conceptually interesting to hold my attention. In my opinion this story did not make that cut. Continue reading

“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

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

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