Nebula weekend (which is amazing) has disrupted my well-meant plans to post a short story every day, though I will say that this is an incredible year for short fiction at the Nebulas.
If you have not read “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell, you absolutely must. It is lovely and a little heartbreaking, but ends on a warm note. It is amazing how much Wiswell has packed into such a short space. I was told this weekend, prior to his winning the award, that he was someone I should follow and read given my personal writing goals. I absolutely agree. If I someday make someone feel half as much as I felt reading that story, I would be thrilled.
To challenge myself during the summer, my plan is to read more short stories and blog something that I liked about them. It’s easy to accidentally spoil shorter works, but I’ll try not to do that. Feel free, however, to discuss in the comments.
Today’s story was “Our Fate, Told in Photons” by K.W. Colyard. As a child, oral traditions surrounding the Pleiades constellation always fascinated me, particularly those that centered on the sisters in the stars. Colyard does a beautiful job of meshing the often-aching dynamics of sisterhood against the question of a legacy that is an accident of birth.
Quote I particularly liked: “But the idea of immortality, the drive toward it, is part of the human experience. When someone tells you that your blood, your bone and grit and stardust, has the chance to live past the end of forever? You either latch onto that, or you run screaming from it.”
I’ve been reading short stories lately, some familiar, some not, for both enjoyment and to think about what makes a good short story work. It’s not a universal formula, but I do find that I gravitate to stories that typically have a strong central character or a premise that speaks to me, either because it’s fantastical or because I can relate to it in some way personally.
In no particular order, here’s three stories that struck me this week. No spoilers. The stories are short enough that you should really go read them yourself.
The Mathematics of Fairyland, Phoebe Barton – The language in this story is just lovely. It’s a wonderous blend of space and fantasy in most unexpected ways.
All the Flavors: A Tale of Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War, in America, Ken Liu – The painful history of Asian discrimination in the West is the basis for this story. Liu is one of my favorite short story authors (I recommend “The Paper Menagerie” frequently to non-SF readers as a way to try and lure them toward speculative fiction).
Proof by Induction, Jose Pablo Iriarte – I won’t at all be surprised if this story about the dynamic between a father and son before and after death wins awards this year. It’s just that good.