Saturday, December 19, 2020

Story Review Catch Up 4

This is the last story catch up post for now, clearing my backlog up to [checks note] October. Hmm.

The Fairytale Princess Gets Over A Break Up by Ashley Burnett

The fairytale princess (which one? All of them) breaks up with the prince and goes back to her cottage in the woods. She meets with the wicked witch and though wary of each other they bond over complaints. She cuts her hair and focuses on her weaving. One day she meets the prince again and it’s awkward.

She goes on a blind date, and later meets the genie who offers one wish. (Three wishes? In this kingdom? In this economy?) And it’s a small wish really.

Read This: For a light-hearted alternative look at fairytales
Don’t Read This: If you don’t want to know what happens instead of the usual happy ending

The Inaccessibility of Heaven by Aliette de Bodard

Sam de Viera works at a shelter in a city that has a population of fallen angels. She’s brought in when several are found dead and has to find her way through the mystery, with both friends and enemies wanting to help and stop her. The mystery verges on the luminously divine, while also being a classic noir murder.

Read This: For an atmospheric crime thriller lifted by idiosyncratic theology
Don’t Read This: If you want your crime to be angel-free

The Buried Keys To Nancy Drew by Lynn Mundell

Riffing off the detective character Nancy Drew, we visit Nancy at various times in her life. Not fitting in with the other girls, realising something about herself, understanding her daughters and her daughters understanding her and finally solving her own case, in a very dubious way.

Read This: For a look into Nancy Drew’s future
Don’t Read This: If a woman’s life as vignettes described as detective cases is underwhelming

Translunar Travelers Lounge Issue 3

Some of my personal highlights from the spec-fic lit-mag:

5:37 by A P Howell is a short story about a researcher into a famously disturbed film. It explores a now well-known horror plot, inspecting it closely and wittily.

7 Parts Full by Anya Ow. A fantasy story about cooking, a magic knife and competitions. Also about expectations and different kinds of needs

Weaving In The bamboo by Eliza Chan is about stories and about who gets to tell them and what they get to say. And no matter how powerful the teller is they don’t always get the story they want.

Beloved and Deserted by Nicole Tan is about forgery and forging, about truth and cost and (perhaps) hiding. Also there’s a magic sword.

Everybody's Got A Hungry Heart by Louis Evans, in which Agent Heartbreak, engineered from birth to be irresistible, meets the Misery Muse whose breakups have inspired great art throughout history. Some Springsteen nods, probably some I missed.

The whole issue is worth your time so check the others out as well.

Dear Miss December Lace by Ry Adams

Miss December Lace has an advice column. Like most agony aunts she tries her best, but sometimes people’s problems are very difficult. The people who may be disappearing, the ones who are being caught up by a strange red light in the sky.

Miss December Lace may not have the answers but she will try.

Read This: For the intersection between problems of life and problems of the nature of existence
Don’t Read This: If you want actual advice and answers to existential problems.

Simple Battery by Maria Thomas

Loraine is a paralegal in Canary Wharf. She’s black, her boyfriend Wrigley is white. He doesn’t want to go to her best friend Anu’s wedding.

One day Loraine is accidently hit on the nose on the train, which Anu claims is legally simple battery.

All of this has a hidden layer, from the time Loraine’s great aunt Eunice was bleeding on the pavement and all the white women did nothing, right up to her wedding date.

Read This: For secrets on secrets and accidents that may be fatal
Don’t Read This: If failing to confront things makes you anxious

How We Coped With The Giant Robots by Anna Cabe

When the giant robots come, wreck the city and overturn society, Gina finds herself the leader of some survivors in the basement of her apartment by default. Everyone else has responsibilities or is too traumatised.

Then her ex-, Neel turns up after some days of post-apocalyptic scavenging. And the two of them must work together to help the other survivors. And maybe figure out who they are now.

Read This: For a story of finding out who you are through the medium of Giant Robots destroying civilisation and your ex- turning up unexpectedly.
Don’t Read This: If taking both Giant Robots and your relationship with your ex- equally seriously will annoy you in a story

Rough Beast by Roger Dee

An old school science fiction story with a classic twist. Aliens accidently let loose a terrible unstoppable being onto earth, it landing in the Florida Keys. Despite a non-interference prime directive they decide that they have to warn the humans, and do so via telepathy, which gets into the brain talking network. As it happens someone was testing a mobile helmet on a boat near where the escape vessel landed, on an island with a hermit on it; the earth government intends to bomb it flat.

Read This: Old school science fiction, a fun twist
Don’t Read This: There’s a fair bit of stock characters and the twist is not as novel as it might have been
Copyright: Appears to still be in force on this one, so I don’t know the status of the free audio version

The Hares Of Horsenden Hill by Sarra Cullenno

It’s the end of March and Ealine is on her way home, knowing that lockdown is on the way. But something strange is happening; her phone is in airline mode but gives her a message while on the tube.
Knowing she might be stuck at home she takes the chance to go to Horsenden and sit outside. But weird events are on the way, and there is magic and transformation on the loose.

Read This: For a luminal moment of change, wildness versus city, hare versus human, lockdown versus freedom
Don’t Read This: Too soon?
Also: An audio version I haven't listened to

Blue and Blue and Blue and Pink by Lavie Tidhar

Giorgio flies a plane across the line. You aren’t supposed to cross the line. This is reminiscent of covert weapons smuggling, which is usually sponsored by some intelligence agency or other (the “company” in this case).

However the other side of the line can contaminate you, with nostalgia for events and a childhood that didn’t happen and a fuzzy, and everything being blue and blue and blue and pink forever.

They also shoot arrows and swap something heavy (Giorgio suspects gold and jewels) for toilet paper, soap, toys and board games. It’s some sort of child-fairyland over there.

This is a horror story.

Read This: For a strange, scary story about the men who fly planes where they shouldn’t
Don’t Read This: If you don’t want weird-places jammed up against your smuggling narrative

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