Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Short Fiction Tuesday

I've been trying to catch up on some other, non-short fiction reading this past week, so I haven't had a chance to read the latest batch of short stories to upload on my Nook. But one story I have read this past week and is well worth reading is N. K. Jemsin's "The Trojan Girl," which originally appeared in Weird Tales. She published the story for free on her blog in protest of Weird Tales' recent editorial meltdown. The story is a rich take on self conscious entities evolving within computer networks, told from within the network with something of a mythic-feeling background to their actions avoiding human awareness of their existence. Very cool story.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Short Fiction Friday

I've continued reading as much short fiction as I can recently, despite the busy schedule. Here are a few stories of late that have stood out for me. I'd already jotted down the links to include in this post before I'd even realized that despite being four stories, it's only two writers, each with two of them.

First is "Cutting" by Ken Liu. I upload Electric Velocipede's posts every week to my Nook, and this one didn't upload quite correctly. The story simply repeated itself three times, but because of the Calvino-esque subject of the monks' beliefs, I read it through each time, trying to see if there was anything changed. There wasn't, but then I read the editor notes and realized I needed to check out the actual site. The story itself is great (even worth reading through three times), and the way Liu uses the story in the subsequent iterations is both clever and meaningful.

And then continuing my ereader mishaps, Lightspeed didn't load properly, so I went to the site and discovered "The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species," also by Ken Liu. Again there's what I'd call a Calvino sense of play and wonder, cataloging an imaginative array of aliens and the use they make of books or book-like objects.

The other two stories are both by Alex Dally MacFarlane and both involve foxes. In truth, I think the more important commonality (and the part that especially drew me to these two) is the sense of a people struggling to maintain its ways in the face of an antagonistic dominant culture. In "Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints" its a group of women and foxes who have developed a way of life as hunting pairs. They've been driven away from their ancestral homes, and the stories of them cast them as ridiculous caricatures. Those who survive now seek to reclaim the bones of some of their ancestors. It is a sad and powerful story. In "Fox Bones. Many Uses." the foxes are hunted by the main character's people, and the different bones consumed to produce different magic. Za's position among her people is complicated by the fact that she has a child whose father comes from the dominant culture, so she and the child are not completely trusted by her own people. When soldiers come after the village, it takes fox-bone magic and a guess about the soldiers' weaknesses to protect her people.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Dream of the City's Future published

The August issue of Penumbra is out now, and look at that cover:
My story is one of a handful of stories I've written that take place in the city called Boskrea. I haven't said a lot about that setting on my blog, though I may have mentioned it a few times. I first began to imagine the setting years ago, and it's often been a place I've used when I want to experiment with some different narrative style or approach. One of the first stories I wrote in the setting received a rejection that concluded,"That said, however, this is a terrific story, one that I'm certain I'll see published elsewhere soon." And that's been reflective of many of the responses I've received on the stories. Not quite right for any of the markets I send them to. That makes finally selling a Boskrea story especially pleasing. This one is a more recent one. I decided to take the stories I'd already written and see how they would work joined together in a sort of mosaic novel. I still go back and forth on my answer to that question, but as I wrote what's basically a novella-length story to weave in and out of the stand-alone shorts, I decided I needed one final stand-alone story to wrap things up, something that would take place (or seem to take place) far in the future, compared to the main events of the story. So this post-apocalyptic dream story (the subtitle, which appears in the pdf version but not the epub version, is "A collective, cultic dream, as recorded by the Story Eaters of Fallen Crown) was written to play that role, along with another flash piece that weaves in at an earlier point about those Story Eaters.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Well, the move and subsequent stream of visitors has made trying to get time for other things quite difficult. But I did want to take a quick moment to mention a story of mine that came out a couple of weeks ago.

"The Chief Censor" was published on Every Day Fiction. This is one of many stories that came from one writing group's (sometimes) weekly one-hour writing challenges. I have no recollection now of what the prompt was, but I liked the image of the censor growing increasingly paranoid.

Expect more blog posts as I get into a more predictable routine here.