Friday, March 17, 2017

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson

I'm starting on the novella nominations for Nebula, and began with The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.  This is her commentary on The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, an unpublished Lovecraft novella.  There are many references and touchpoints the Lovecraft story in Vellitt Boe. 

Vellitt Boe is a professor at a women's university in Ulthar.  The world is a strange, frightening and arbitrary place--distances, mathematical formulas, and most anything else may change at any time.  The sky is a low, roiling thing with numbered stars and planets that traverse it arbitrarily.  One of Vellitt Boe's students elopes with a Dreamer, a man from our world.  She goes on a quest to get her back.

The story is told in a beautiful, near-poetic voice.  Sort of an antidote to Lovecraft, who did something similar in a dark way.  I've never read Unknown Kadath, but could still appreciate this work.  It celebrates the strength of a woman of experience, showing her in all aspects.  I think it's a favorite for the award, and I'll give it four stars.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0, by Caroline M. Yoachim

Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station is what short fiction can do pretty well--humor.  You don't want a joke to take forever.  There is no hope for actual help, but the path to non-help is pretty funny.  It's written like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but not really.  Which was fun, because I used to like to try to read those things straight through and try to keep the plots straight.  A good 3 stars.

This one was indeed a contender, but my favorite for the Nebula is Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar.  Go check that one out.

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong

Now this one, A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers, is pretty good.  A very intense relationship between sisters, sisters with weather working powers, and one of them suicides in pretty spectacular fashion.  The other tries to work through alternate timelines to bring her back.  Pretty darn cool and enjoyable, I would recommend it.  Strong 3 stars.

This Is Not a Wardrobe Door, by A.Merc Rustad

This Is Not a Wardrobe Door is another entry for the Nebula Award for Short Stories in 2016.  Rustad fully embraces the children's fairy tale, which is kind of cute.  It's a story of imaginary doors to imaginary friends that are actually real.  So far our relationship score is 4 gay, 1 cis, 1 trans.  It is good to explore a new space but I like stories that do more with it.  A weak 3 stars.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Things With Beards, by Sam J. Miller

Continuing the Nebula Awards Short Story reviews: Things With Beards is a good strong entry.  The Things in the title is a reference to the movie The Thing, based on the John W. Campbell story Who Goes There?  It's basically a followup to the story, with MacReady and Childs surviving but having carried the Thing out with them.  Figuring out the tie-in is fun, but we also get a message with MacReady becoming involved in violent activism as the AIDS epidemic gets under way.  Pretty interesting, I give it a strong 3 stars.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sabbath Wine, by Barbara Krasnoff

Sabbath Wine is another one of the Nebula Short Story nominees for 2016.  The story is really all about the setting, which is a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn during prohibition.  The daughter wants her father, a militantly anti-religious Jew, to have a Sabbath meal for her new friend.  For that, he needs kosher wine.

It's sweet and well written, a nice dessert.  3 stars.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron is a fairy tale.  I get this information from the title of the anthology it is in, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, and it fits beautifully.  Tabitha walks the earth in iron shoes, trying to wear them down.  Amira sits atop a glass hill that protects her from rabid suitors.  Both are caught in magical traps of their own making.  It's wonderfully well written and a pleasure to read.  It's definitely my favorite of the short stories so far, and I think it will remain so.  4 stars from me