– YOUR BOYFRIEND EXPERIENCE by James Patrick Kelly — Dak’s boyfriend Jin asks him to go on a date with a playbot that Jin designed. I wouldn‘t call this romance, although Dak‘s relationship with Jin plays a major part in the story. It‘s more about Dak‘s self-discovery with the help of an AI. He ends up in a difficult position. The ending had a very ominous and creepy vibe for me. I could imagine this turning into a horror scenario, but that‘s just my imagination running wild, I think. Good plotting and pacing, well developed characters for a short story. Well done. ★★★★★
– LONE PUPPETEER OF A SLEEPING CITY by Arula Ratnakar — probably not bad, but I couldn‘t work up any interest for the story. ★★☆☆☆
“Most people my age never installed the NeuroLync that retains an imprint of a person’s experiences—including their final moments.“
Another short story where the MC connects to another conscience, but here it‘s not a piggy-back experience of a living mind. It‘s an immersion into the recording of another person‘s death. And the subsequent quest of our MC to understand that one particular person and herself. ★★★☆☆
AIRBODY by Sameem Siddiqui — renting the body of someone else via shared consiousness, nice idea with lots of possibilities. ★★★☆☆
I stand in front of the mirror as I clip the AirBody headset to the backs of my ears. It whirs on automatically—it doesn’t actually whir, but I imagine that’s the microscopic sound it makes as the violet light pulses. It authenticates my identity and says “Hello, Arsalan. Your AirBody guest is in the waiting area. Are you ready?”
Winner of the 2020 Clarkesworld Readers Poll 2021 Finalist for the Theodore A. Sturgeon Memorial Award
Thisweek‘s topic / March 22: Books With an Adjective In the Title
Tricky topic. Lets see what I can did up on my shelf. For variety‘s sake I‘ll start with the books I added to my shelves last and work backwards…
Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings — my latest NetGalley addition: Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future. Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space
The Art of Cursive Penmanship: A Personal Handwriting Program for Adults by Michael R. Sull — A practice guide to improve one‘s handwriting. We start with a discourse on the history and technicalities of handwriting. There is instructions on the correct sitting posture, how to place the paper, how to use your writing implement, on fountain pens and so on. Chapter 5 is the beginning of the practical part. That‘s roughly where I am right now. Haven‘t started with the exercises yet…
Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) by Elizabeth Bear — not quite sure why I added this one to my stack: A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.
Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes — this was a buddy read that I skipped. Everybody really liked it, so I got it after all: Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.
The Black Coast (The God-King Chronicles, #1) by Mike Brooks — another buddy read that I skipped and my reading buddies all loved it: When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep’s warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders come in search of a new home . . .
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — I like the original fairytale and the cover is pretty, so I couldn‘t resist: Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control.
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds — two novelettes set in Revelation Space. And the blurb of one of them is something aquatic. I had to get it: In the seas of Turquoise live the Pattern Jugglers, the amorphous, aquatic organisms capable of preserving the memories of any human swimmer who joins their collective consciousness. Naqi Okpik devoted her life to studying these creatures—and paid a high price for swimming among them.
Digital Divide (Rachel Peng, #1) by K.B. Spangler — not quite sure why I picked this one. Genre bender with cyborgs: Rachel Peng misses the Army. Her old life in Criminal Investigation Command hadn’t been easy, but she had enjoyed it. Now, as the first cyborg liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, Rachel is usually either bored senseless or is fighting off harassment from her coworkers.
Yes, not 100% certain that those are all adjectives… *shrugs*
What interesting reads have you added to your shelves recently?
THE LONG IAPETAN NIGHT by Julie Nováková — Iapetus is one of Saturn’s moons, named after a Titan in Greek mythology seen as the progenitor of mankind. And that‘s where we wake up from cold sleep. Earth has gone through two cataclysms and humanity tries to establish footholds on other planets and moons in the solar system. An earlier mission has failed and our team tries to find out what happened. Horror on a dark ice planet.
I like the plot idea, but struggled with the writing. It felt disjointed and confused me. There are two teams exploring and an account of the previous, failed mission from an unreliable narrator — I had a hard time keeping them straight. Not happy with this one. ★★¾☆☆
“Too long was the night of the world, the captain had said after our awakening. It’s time we saw the day.
Story can be found for free in Asimov‘s Science Fiction magazine, November/December 2020, linked in above cover.
AN IMPORTANT FAILURE by Rebecca Campbell — superficially about the building of a violin and what type of wood makes it „open up“ and sing. Climate change, loss of physical things and loss of possibilities in our lives. Ends on a slightly hopeful note. Bittersweet.
The writing was a bit of a struggle for me, as it was very dense, detailed and „stream of consciousness“… ★★★¾☆
2021 WINNER: THEODORE A. STURGEON MEMORIAL AWARD 2021 FINALIST: AURORA AWARD FOR BEST NOVELETTE/NOVELLA
“Stelliform Press is going to publish my novella, Arboreality this autumn. It’s an expansion of my novelette “An Important Failure,” which was both challenging and wonderful. I got to return to characters and places I love, and explore the possibilities of a world that’s falling apart. Because new things grow out of the crumbles, don’t they? After the wild fires, the fireweed. “An Important Failure” was about a craftsman trying to preserve something precious while the world changed around. Arboreality has a few characters like that, but also characters who are picking up the remnants and making them into something new.“
“I am cut nearly in half by the accident. The surviving fibers of my suit hold me together. I am not dead.“
Turns out that Graff faked his medical records and something really awkward is going to come out. He has a lot of explaining to do and hopefully some forgiving listeners. This was a little tense, but I was smiling at the end… ★★★★¾
Short story. Amusing piss-take on Wikipedia and what you would do first, if you could time travel, in the form of forum posts.
International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War Page 263
11/15/2104 At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote: Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl’s cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice!
EYES OF THE FOREST by Ray Nayler — an alien forrest, scouts / wayfinders in a dangerous situation. A young wayfinder in training. No predators, but scavengers that feast on dead things… things that are not illuminated… what a cool concept! And I am really salty about not getting told her given name! ★★★★½
“Predator is just a word we carried with us into space. A concept from Earth. It has no place here. Nothing in the forest hunts what is alive: That is a habit of our home world—a habit of animals none here have ever set eyes on.“
Bots run amok, aliens threaten, ship and humans need to be saved, little bot to the rescue.
Set on the same ship and following the adventures of the same little bot as HUGO-awarded The Secret Life if Bots, this is a fun and slightly absurd take on the currently abundant stories and novels about artificial intelligences.
I guess it is about time that I pick up one of her full-length novels.
Can be read for free here. Shamelessly stolen from that same page:
Suzanne Palmer is a writer and linux system administrator who lives in western Massachusetts. Her work has appeared frequently in Asimov’s and Analog, and her Clarkesworld story “The Secret Life of Bots” won the 2018 Hugo for Best Novelette. Her next novel, The Scavenger Door (book three of the Finder Chronicles), will be published by DAW in August 2021.
In other news, I am in a bit of a reading slump. Real Life is a little extra hard right now. I turned to comfort reading and spent all weekend and Monday night with re-reading some of my favourite fanfiction. A little Spirk and a whole lot McShep.