Short

I’m a little pressed for time again today, so I will be basically copying some things which I’ve been writing in my physical diary here today. Yesterday and today I read a few short stories, and I’m going to post my thoughts about them here.

The Ceiling Is Sky – Suzanne Palmer (Interzone #234)

The overall idea of this story – contrasting working for a living with sacrificing everything to find yourself – was quite well suited to the world created in which it happened. However the clumsiness of some of the expository dialogue and a tendency to tell rather than show meant that it was a little difficult to read. There were also some elements to the story which were a little beyond belief – all the houses are equipped with euthanasia buttons, and these are on open display and just have to be pressed, by anyone? But the intent was good even if the world was a little unbelievable and sloppily drawn.

In the Bleak Midwinter – Philip Reeve (here)

Philip Reeve has an advantage over the other short stories which I’ve been reading because he is doing so in an established world, using established characters, which I have read not that long ago, and if you go back in his blog a few entries you’ll see the entry where he mentions me showing him around my college when he visited Oxford in November. The characters are well-written because we know so much about them already – would the descriptions of Shrike been so effective to someone who knew nothing about stalkers? I cannot say. But, on the other hand, this story was written for people who read his blog, is beautifully illustrated by one of his friends, and has been provided for free on the internet. It’s the kind of thing that you want to see established writers do to embrace the internet, and it encourages you to continue to support them. It also helps that the story was great, too.

A Light In Troy – Sarah Monette (Clarksworld Magazine #1, online here)

I was expecting this story to be about Troy, a subject very close to home for me, but it wasn’t, so that was a relief. The title is clearly intended to make one think of Troy (I supposed that the heroine was Andromache until it became clear that this was not mythical Greece, but something else) but it does deal with a conquered people, the enslavement of a woman once noble, and a glimmer of hope and the possibility of decency amongst conquerors. If not exactly about redemption it was perhaps about renewal, and recovery. It was nice, and that was good in something so short.

I have several ideas for further blogs (such as the one about ebooks which I will probably write tomorrow, and in which I will comment on this old blog by Philip Reeve upon which I just stumbled; and one about the point of celebrating New Year, which I guess will be Saturday) so hopefully I will carry it on even after this blog-a-day stretch has ended. I have to skip Sunday as I will be at a friend’s post-New Year’s Eve all day, but perhaps Monday.

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