Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Short fiction Tuesday

I love the opening line of last week's story from Fantasy, "Ghost Girl" by Lauren Beukes:

You think of a city as a map, all knotted up in the bondage of grid lines imposed by town planners. But really, it’s a language—alive, untidy, ungrammatical. The meaning of things rearranges. The scramble of the docks turns hipster cool and the inner city’s faded glamour gives way to tenement blocks rotting from the inside. It develops its own accent, its own slang.

The stories that especially stand out from this past week (well, as in I read them this past week--they're actually a bit older than that) were from Lightspeed. First, a few weeks ago it featured a story by Ursula LeGuin, "The Silence of the Asonu." It's a reprint, one that I'd read before, but I always love to return to her stories. It's about as far from plot-driven as stories usually get, so I won't try to give a summary of the events, but it's about a people on an alien planet who seemingly lose the (give up the) ability to speak, or communicate in any way, as they grow to maturity.

And two weeks ago, Lightspeed's story was Corey Mariani's "Postings from an Amorous Tomorrow," which was incredibly powerful. It begins with a future that shades toward parody of social networking, in which people receive augmented brains in order to be able to connect, communicate, love, and be in love with millions of people at once. The opening goes:

As of this second there are 3,236,728,909 people over the age of four living in the world, all of whom I am intimately familiar with. Of these, there are 876,852,003 that I love, and one that I am currently in love with. In ten years, when I am twenty, I hope to love everyone on the planet as Gordon did once for almost two minutes. He is my hero.

From there it takes a dark and heart-breaking turn that's only made more powerful by the light tone of the beginning. A most excellent story.

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