Ah, a short story roundup, 2020/12/20

Some short stories I’ve read recently.

  • For He Can Creep by Siobhan Carroll (Fantasy), about a cat, a poet, and the devil. I really enjoyed Jeoffry’s perspective as a cat when dealing with all the shenanigans the devil gets up to. It’s hard to be an active agent fighting the forces of evil when you’re a cat!

There’s really not much to say about this other than it’s a funny little story. It injects a few references to the importance of cats in history and religion, and how that plays into the current roles of the cats in the story. I loved the way the characters are written, from Joeffry and his singular focus on eating and protecting what is, to Moppet and their split personality.

  • The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay (Science Fiction, WLW). You wake up in a room. It’s dark, and you don’t know what is going on. A mysterious voice asks you to do stuff, to remember who you are. It’s a story that asks what really makes a person. I enjoyed the progression of the narrative.

Really, this short is a narrative version of the question of what makes someone the person you love. It’s like a Ship of Theseus but playing with memories and bodies. The answer is left up to the reader to decide as the story closes.

  • Rat Catcher’s Daughter by KJ Charles (Fantasy, Transgender, Romance). Christiana, a wonderful singer, is in trouble. In debt to an unscrupulous conman, she finds herself at his mercy. Saved at the last moment by the mysterious friends of Stanislav Kamarzyn, Christiana must figure out his intentions. This is a lovely little romance that had me grinning from ear to ear. But also, DRAMA!!

It’s a very short, very cute story about a transgender woman finding love through circumstance. There is a trigger warning up front though; there is a lot of purposeful misgendering at the beginning of the story by The Villain. It also serves to introduce the characters of the Lilywhite Boys, who are like the Cray brothers but not as terrible.

Utopia is overrated: a review of ‘And Shall Machines Surrender’ by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Doctor Orfea Lueng has come to the Shenzhen dyson sphere to escape her past and her present. All she wants is safety from the past that threatens to kill her if she’s discovered. All seems well, miraculously so, until her past shoves itself in her face in the form of Krissana Khongti, a spy who left her for dead, who has now become an AI-Human hybrid and semi-religious symbol to the people. Worse still, she is unwillingly forced to work with her former lover thrust into a mystery that has the potential to destroy the Mandate.

What can I say about this book except wow. From the outset you know you’re being launched into something intense; “Shenzen Sphere, Even at first glimpse the vastness confronts, built like complex ribbons wrapping around the red pearl of its star: scintillant and ophidian.” The level of detail in the way things are described, while leaving enough for the imagination to chew on, creates a beautiful sweeping vision of a utopia. I remember one instance where the skyscrapers of Luohu, against the backdrop of night, are described as making a cosmos of their own. And this is just one example of hundreds I can point to that made me sit back for a moment and breath it all in.

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