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Book Review: A Passport to a Nation of Talking Slugs by Andrew Kozma

8 Sep

In all honesty, this should really be called a booklet review, or, to be fancier, a chapbook review, because this is a slight little thing that a person could easily read all the way through while waiting in line at the DMV, still having time to start on another short story collection or anthology before her number was called. Which is to say that A Passport to a Nation of Talking Slugs could actually fit into a passport, as its amusingly apt cover might suggest. Continue reading

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Short and Sublime: April 2015 Round-Up

8 May

April stories include historical fantasies, fairy tales, near futures, and one space fantasy tale.

“Wild Things Got To Go Free” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #170) by Heather Clitheroe works because of, and is refreshing due to, its spare worldbuilding. Soldiers are rounding up and hunting down certain civilians, who are turning into, or have the potential to turn into, other creatures — which includes the young protagonist and her mother. The two young women in “The Ways of Walls and Words” (Tor.com) by Sabrina Vourvoulias are similarly threatened by the yoke of the real world Spanish empire; though they, and their ways of life, couldn’t be more different. It’s a story about friendship, Nahuatl magic, and the power behind language. Continue reading

Short and Sublime: March 2015 Round-Up

3 Apr

March has been a month of unusual settings, stories of alienation and loss, and meditations on the nature of time.

Tade Thompson’s “The Monkey House” (Omenana #2), dystopian horror, is a story about what it means to be trapped inside a system, and the horrors one must overlook to be a part of that system; what happens when the ability to ignore horrors both natural and fantastical is seized from you and you alone? The protagonist is an unreliable narrator — or is he far more reliable as a narrator than the characters that surround him? — and holds a banal job as a paper-pusher with an insidiously creepy company whose purpose is obscured. This dystopia is set not in the future but in the eighties and follows the Orwellian tradition while being rather Kafkaesque, but adds enough facets, from dark fantasy elements to the chronic illness of the protagonist, to create something entirely new. Continue reading

Short and Sublime: February 2015 Round-Up

2 Mar

February’s shorts include emotionally resonant stories about family and friendship and trippy genre-benders.

“The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov (Tor.com) is a secondary world fantasy in which the main character has given up the life of a warrior and chosen to prepare the dead; when he must perform this task for his husband, he mourns not only his lover but also substantially lesser status in the eyes of his daughter. Parents having favorites amongst their children is very much part of our cultural milieu, but not so frequently presented is the reverse, and this is a rendering of complex emotions that feels very true. Gwendolyn Clare’s “Indelible” (Clarkesworld #101) is another such resonant tale of grief, following the loss of one’s sister in a science fictional far future in which aliens are characterized by their physical malleability. Continue reading

Short and Sublime: The Awakened Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin

27 Feb

The Awakened Kingdom, a 2014 fantasy novella by N.K. Jemisin released both as part of The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus and as a standalone e-book, is told from the point of view of a baby god. And as adorable as the central premise is, the execution is enough to sorely tempt me to quote large swaths of the text in lieu of a real review.

The novella opens thus: Continue reading

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