I've just finished reading "A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong" by K. J. Parker, and it's a wonderful story. The narrator is a musician, accomplished and technically skilled, but so fearful of failure that his works never achieve the genius he aspires to...that is, until certain events conspire to twist his life around. The title really expresses where the story gets its power from: underlying what is a well told tale--with a complex character and arc and series of events--is that question of what price is great art worth. What cost, in life of others and freedom of self and dignity and truth, is too much to pay to create something of absolute genius?
This week I also enjoyed Corie Ralston's "Mamafield." A very different story from the other, it's a story told from the point of view of a sentient plant who (that?) is apparently capable of walking but so far has only ever known the area around its mother plant. One of the plant's siblings, though, has journeyed, and this has made that sibling anathema to both the mother and all those who had remained behind. After reading it and deciding it was worth mentioning here, I stumbled across Lois Tilton's review in Locus, and she took issue with the logic of the story. I can see her argument, but I tend to enjoy stories told from a strange perspective in general, and I think the strength of that voice still carries the story.