Archive for the ‘Jay Lake’ Category
I was lucky enough to get a copy of Clarksworld Year Four, which includes 24 pieces of original short fiction the digital magazine published during their fourth year of publication. Never heard of Clarkesworld? Please, allow me to enlighten you, because these people simply rock it. A digital magazine featuring original speculative fiction, interviews, and editorials, Clarkesworld published their first issue in 2006 and their original short fiction has been winning awards ever since. The magazine itself has even picked up a few awards along the way (can you say three Hugo’s!!).
So I don’t have to tell you how awesome this magazine is.
You know how usually when I review an anthology or collection, I only talk about a handful of stand-out pieces, my favorites? Not this time. The handful of short stories I’ve read so far (or listened to. Yay podcasting! I love you Kate Baker!) are some of the strangest, most out-there fiction I have ever come across. We’ve got McDonald’s terrorists, interstellar runaways, reincarnations of people who aren’t dead yet, the end of the universe, and an AI who thinks she’s a fairy tale. Because everything in here is just so damn weird, I want each piece to get some much deserved attention. I’ll review 3-4 short stories at a time, so you, dear readers and followers, can get the full treatment.
Want to make a comment on my review? By all means, comment here. I’ve linked each story back to Clarkesworld, so you can read the whole thing (or listen to the audio) and comment over there and give the magazine some direct attention.
Let’s get started:
Alone with Gandhari by Gord Sellar – Kenny used to work fast food. He used to be a fat guy. But now, after a therapy that finally worked, with his taut belly and his clown-like facial tattoos, he’s a high ranking follower of Guru Deepak. Like all the other followers, he answers to the name Ronald, even though he prefers Ron. This opening paragraphs of this story were completely off-putting and disorienting to me, which makes the story hard to get into, but I’m happy I kept reading because I really ended up enjoying it, or at least I enjoyed the mental mind-fuck aspects of it. Guru Deepak wants to help people change for the better, his followers will help him change the world. He is especially welcoming to people who need to stop eating fast food all the time. All are welcome, the blessings of Ghandhari are available to anyone who chooses to listen. The vegetarian lifestyle and meditation is probably good for Ron/Kenny’s health, but he’s unwittingly joined a cult. The hyped up Ronalds commit “Mac Attacks”, terrorizing patrons of fast food restaurants. Ron/Kenny has been chosen by Deepak to lead an important mission to a corporate farm. Far worse than eating a cow is abusing one on a farm, but what the Ronalds find on the farm isn’t exactly a cow. Is this a commentary on Fast Food or on food in general? A nightmarish satire? I’m not sure.
This closes out my series on reviewing the Hugo Nominated Novellas. For those of you just joining us, here are the other nominees, with links to my reviews:
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress
The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant
On an alternate earth on the brink of technological change, the holy books have always told people that six thousand years ago The Increate touched the Earth in eight places, and in those places mankind flourished. But photography, larger telescopes, electricity, and the telegraph, have made their appearance. In a society very uncomfortable with chance, a society where history and religion are pretty much the same thing, I imagine this would be more than a little traumatic.
A might happen anywhere, every so often a heresy awakes, something about humanity being older than six thousand years, or having originated elsewhere, or aliens having built the pyramids. You know, all sorts of nonsense. Nonsense which will not be tolerated by either the religious or the secular leaders of the planet. In this, the two groups work together to squash damaging heresies.
Doctor Morgan Abutti, however, has been researching the same section of the sky for years. He’s not sure what he’s found, he just knows it shouldn’t be there. He presents his paper to the the Planetary Society, abruptly shocks his older and more experienced peers out of their chairs, and as one could expect from a scientific society that is ruled by religion, he is summarily thrown out and brought before a treason judge.