Sunday, January 11, 2015

Even More Short Stories

I definitely seem to have been in a short-story-reading mood lately. Hopefully this doesn't denote a long term loss of attention span. Concentration was always one of my superpowers. Well, I guess we'll see.

I 1st read the collection of short stories and poems "Through the Drowsy Dark", by Rachel Swirsky. I had mentioned how varied and interesting her stories in the 150 story Tor collection were. These 10 quite varied stories do not disappoint. There are 9 poems alternating with the stories. I read the poems out loud. Poetry seems to work much better for me that way. I particularly liked the poem "The Dream Vacation" - a recipe in the form of a poem.

Notable stories were "Heartstrung", which features a crazy but effective metaphor of the female condition; "Defiled Imagination", which features some in-your-face female sexuality, which I feel is laudable; and "The Debt of the Innocent", which takes a frank look at the implications of healthcare as a commodity to be purchased rather than as a human right.

I had to buy this book from Amazon in Kindle format, and slightly annoying was the book's not having a usable (linked) table of contents.

This book was book 27 of a series called "Conversation Pieces" of books with feminist themes. Yay feminism!

Then, long overdue, I read "The Year's Best Science Fiction 31st Annual Edition", edited by Gardner Dozois. This has been an annual ritual for me for, I guess, 31 years. Always good stories, and a good place to spot new sources of edginess. The story quality is, of course, very good, but no new authors to report.

A couple of stories dealt with life after death: the 1st story, "The Discovered Country", by Ian R. MacLeod, and the last story, "Quicken", by Damien Broderick. The latter is one of those epic-in-scope stories that keeps one-upping itself. There were many other stories dealing with other flavors of post-human existence.

Also notable was "Earth I" by Stephen Baxter. This features religious vs scientific theories of how life spread across the galaxies. Both theories are wrong, and the overall tone of the stories is somewhat heartless. I have liked Baxter's novels that I have read, particularly his Destiny's Children novels (Coalescent, Exultant, Transcendent, and Resplendent), which have the great concept of an offshoot of humanity that starts using the social insect model of breeding. I will have to check out more of his many novels - I have also read the Manifold series of his.

Also noteworthy were "Rock of Ages", by Jay Lake, a nice conspiracy theory action story; "One", by Nancy Kress, a good superhero tale; "The Other Gun", by Neal Asher, which had a nice comic-bookish space opera feel; and "Technarion" by Sean McMullen, which was steampunk, but with electricity instead of steam - electropunk?

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