I do love me some talking dog stories. They’re such fun! And you don’t even have to take them for walksies. Just listen to a reading of “Eugene,” by Jacob Sager Weinstein.
Eugene is a dogman serving as a police officer. There’s such an immense amount of charm in his narration. The story itself is a day in the life thing, going on patrol, catching bad guys, saving people. Even Eugene has to overcome his doubt that he is a good person, and he does it with reassuring enthusiasm.
It’s a good story, yes it is.
“Chinatown,” by Greg Van Eekhout is the sort of amusing flight of fancy you might have while enjoying your favorite bowl of soup noodles in Chinatown — if the broth has been simmering for 800 years. And evil Belgians might send their attack monkeys at any moment. And there’s way more than five Chinese brothers. What’s an innocent foodie to do?
Extracted from “Tales From the City of Seams,” originally in Polyphony 4. Read on Podcastle. Tasted on my iPod Touch.
You have to wonder what’s the point of making android robots, if not to, um date them. In “Eros, Philia, Agape” a robot suffers emotional abuse from a woman he’s designed to love, but he questions that. In Tim Pratt’s “A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness,” a robot suffers sexualized abuse, but he’s programmed himself to enjoy that, so he doesn’t question that. It’s an interesting question, whether or not you ask it, and I liked both stories. Also the reading of teh latter one of Escape Pod gave me a nice, evil laugh at the end.
Since this story is about banging robots, there’s a lot of justifiable f-bombs.
One of these days I’m going to learn that just because a book has a cool idea or an awesome premise doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. In his feature in The Big Idea, Mike Shevdon has some very cool things to say about other worlds and the true meaning of ancient ceremonies. But after reading the first chapters of Sixty-One Nails, I couldn’t remember why I was so excited by the prospect of reading it.
“Divided by Infinity,” by Robert Charles Wilson brings you back to the vanishing world of the used book store — the smell of old bindings, the rattle of bead curtains, the rumpled owner — but which world is it?
I guess the Halloween monster story for the Torque Control short story club must be “The Heart of A Mouse,” by K.J. Bishop. The beginning introduces us to a depressing post-apocalypse landscape with literal fallen angels rotting on the ground. And the narrator is a modified mouse.
For this week, Torque Control short story club refrains from giving us a monster story for Halloween, instead suggesting you read the relatively sentimental “My Father’s Singularity,” by Brenda Cooper.
Paul’s father is always telling him that he will live to see the Singularity and become something his father can’t understand. When Paul goes to the city for an education and a job to support his father and the family farm, we watch him grow up and his father age. We also see technology continue to change the world, so seamlessly that Paul seems to take it all for granted.
About the worst thing I can say about “The Cage,” by A.M. Dellamonica, is that the beginning gave me totally the wrong impression. On my first read, I bounced off the weight given to a story about the bloody murder one Pamela Adolpha, werewolf. I thought this going to be a gory story about werewolves. It’s not.
Set in the same universe of Learning the World, where stars are surrounded by green habitats, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?,” by Ken McLeod starts out looking like a romp across the stars. The narrator sleeps with the wrong woman, and rather than work for the next 257 years to pay off his fine, he agrees to go “clean up” Wolf 359. He then receives a series of rude surprises and deals out a few surprises of his own. Like “Always,” the first-person narrator is never named. Your conception of him shifts radically through the story. He starts out acting like Don Juan and ends up more like Genghis Khan.
Funny how you can always tell a cult by who gets to have sex. In “Always,” by Karen Joy Fowler, the unnamed narrator is warned by her mother: if only the pastor is having sex, it’s a cult. When the narrator and her husband come to Always and discover exactly that about Brother Porter, she just shrugs her shoulders and says, Okay, definitely not a religion. As for the sex itself, she primly keeps it off-screen.
So why were she and Wilt so eager to pay $5,000 each in 1938 dollars for the privilege? Brother Porter can make them immortal. (Oh, really?) Being immortal, the narrator makes some interesting observations about art being about death and photography being about moments that will never come again. When a favorite dog dies, she mourns not only his death, but the deaths of all the other dogs she might have. No matter what happens, she never loses her faith in Brother Porter’s gift. A true member of her cult.
This is a well-written story, but I like my fantasy more unambiguous. I’m more interested in how the use of first person maintains that ambiguity.