Thursday, November 17, 2011

Short Fiction Thursday

I've actually had a little more of a chance to read some short fiction this past week, and there were three that seemed especially worth noting.

First, I just discovered that Electric Velocipede's new incarnation as an ezine has already begun. That in itself merits mention--I liked EV's selections in print and am looking forward to the online version. After signing up for the newsletter so that I don't miss any future announcements, I picked one of the stories at random, "Dancing in the Winter Rooms" by David Tallerman, and I have to say that it was a good choice to begin on. It's the story of a generation ship and the doctor who realizes they've long since missed the planet they were sent to colonize. His attempts to change the customs of the small society on board the vast ship do not go over well.

Second, "Held Close in Syllables of Light" by Rose Lemberg in Beneath Ceaseless Skies is one of those where the richly imagined society is a large part of the pleasure of the story. That society has sprung up around trade and a form of magic that involves names and words and the making clockwork kinds of contraptions. In the course of the story, the heroine challenges social customs, uncovers mysteries, and is forced to take powerful action that will change her life. It's a rich story, and a setting I would love to revisit in other stories.

Finally, "How Maartje and Uppinder Terraformed Mars (Marsmen Trad.)" by Lisa Nohealani Morton in Lightspeed has a wonderful mythopoeic feel to its science fictional tale of the colonists on Mars and their rebellion against Earth control. It is, in essence, a creation myth for its people, and wonderfully written one.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Short Fiction Thursday

I'm not doing a lot of short story reading this month, with concentrating on novel writing (and admittedly starting to feel antsy at seeing so many stories showing up in various places and feeling like I'm getting left behind in not reading some of them...), but there was one story at Strange Horizons shortly before the month began that I felt deserved a mention here. I was intending to wait and find another story or two to recommend at the same time, but then got too wrapped up in NaNo to do so.

So, here is a delightful story: Shaenon K. Garrity's "Librarians in the Branch Library of Babel."

One rather extended quote from the story that, I think at least, makes it self-evident why I find this story so whimsically entertaining:

The Branch Library is infinite. All Libraries of Babel are infinite. The Branch Libraries are just smaller.

Which is larger: all possible numbers, or all possible even numbers? Logically, they're the same size. A fraction of an infinite set is still infinite, isn't it? By the same logic, it's possible for an infinite library in which every other book is, say, Stephen King's Cujo to still contain all possible books, same as the main library. It's just that you stand a 50% chance of getting Cujo.

I'm only using Cujo as an example. As you know, we did not work at an infinite library where every other book is Stephen King's Cujo. That library is in El Paso.

As the story goes on, the librarian ventures deep into the labyrinthine library, encountering the residents who've made their lives within the stacks after getting lost. But her worst dilemma might just be the city council.

And speaking of getting antsy as so many good-sounding stories (and nonfiction) get posted that I really want to read...Weird Fiction Review went live last week. There are already several stories and bunch of other content--columns, reflections, comics--and some interesting things lined up for the week ahead. Looks like a great hub for all kinds of cool stuff.