Dying Earth, part III

Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times
by Sue Burke and others…

Finished on New Year‘s Day! And I actually backdated the finishing date to the 31st of December, so I can start the new year with a clean cut. It might throw off my statistics a little — I already wrote my yearly wrap-up, it will go online on Friday or thereabouts. But I am not fussed enough to update that post. Or rather, I am working on letting go of my OCD. It makes me a little twitchy, but I‘ll cope… 😆

Ok, back to the last few stories of this anthology:

TELLTALE by Matthew Hughes ★★★☆☆ Fantasy
“Raffalon’s world had become monochrome: the thief stood on a shingle beach of gray stones, lapped by a gray sea beneath a gray sky.“
The author likes to use plenty of adjectives. Add to that a stilted prose, presumably to give a „fantasy“ feel. Ugh. The writing became more fluent after the first paragraphs. The story had the feel of a fairytale and had absolutely nothing to do with a dyeing Earth. It was ok.

THE MEAT PLAINS by Jeremy Megargee ★★½☆☆ SF
“Humans are a mass now, a great hideous stretch of fleshy plains spanning from one end of the globe to the other.“
Ugh, this was absurd and really disgusting. 

THE MIDWIVES by Jude Reid ★★★½☆ SF
Earth dies, some chose ones leave. This is the story of the descendants of those left behind.

THE SNOWS OF ADALON by Scott J. Couturier ★★★☆☆ Fantasy/SF
“Clouded over by perpetual white-gray miasma, wroth with terminal frost and cold, the planet is muffled in a cloak of blizzards.“
A blend of Fantasy and SF, with a sorcerer and his daughter stuck on a planet that was plunged into eternal winter. Salvation might be an escape capsule and the planet‘s moon.

ALONE IN IMALONE by Christopher Stanley ★★★★☆ Apocalyptic
Amusing little story about a guy trying to get onto one of the shuttles leaving Earth, before it blows up. 

CONVERTIR Andrew by Leon Hudson ★★★★★ Fantasy?
“When even something so evident as the changing of the climate becomes a matter of faith, to be accepted or rejected at the whim of the individual… in what sense is there a settled material reality at all?”
We start at the compound of a religious cult, but end up debating the perception of reality, fake news and the willful ignorance of facts that seems to be so abundant right now. Pretty wacky, but good.

This last story led me to an online SF magazine: https://mythaxis.co.uk

What I liked about this anthology:
It reminded me that I like Sue Burke. She is probably the main reason why I got this a while back. I met some new authors.

What I did not like about this anthology:
Considering the name of this anthology, I expected stories of the apocalypse. Dyeing Earth. Right? In quite a few of these stories the presence of Earth was incidental and we could have been anywhere. And even the apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic setting seemed to be more of an afterthought or something in the sidelines. It was not a focal point. The title also incorporated „Ends of Time“, but it still feels a little like the book topic was missed. Still, mostly enjoyable.

Link to the review of the first set of stories.

Link to the second set of story reviews.

Dying Earth, part II

Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times
by Sue Burke and others…

Ongoing. I will update as I go along…

WAITING FOR THE RAIN by Shana Scott ★★½☆☆ Dystopia? Hard to tell. There was no magic or any SF elements.
“The summer was beating them down: plants burned before they grew, scavengers poisoned by the rotted carrion, water scarce—coveted.“
Possibly set in Africa somewhere, hard to tell. Drought, suffering, a sacrifice is needed to appease the Sun. I didn‘t like the writing much.

PURPLE NASTIES by Jez Patterson ★★¾☆☆ Dystopia / SF
“The Sun isn’t really purple either. It’s just a big ball of white light. Only, now it’s got this cloud of purple gas around it.“
Very short, very odd. Some cosmic event led to a chemical reaction that led to purple gas around the sun and purple light on Earth, with disastrous results.

TO CLIMB BY THE LIGHT OF THE SPUTTERING SUN by Daniel Ausema ★★★★★ Dystopia / SF
A team of scavengers for hire venture outside of the city to find valuables. The city is under a dome in the shape of a skull, made from bone? The sun is old and dyeing, the seas are acidic. Our crew has a steep and dangerous climb to make.
The writing of this one hit my sweet spot, I really liked it. I never figured out the skulls. Robots or machines, partially made of bone? 

LEGACY 2.0 by N. E. White ★★★★¾ SF
Maria and Juan circle a dead Earth, millenia after humanity has abandoned it. They have a cockroach situation aboard their spaceship. Good one!

DRIED SMOKE by Kat Pekin ★★★★★ Post-Apocalypse
“First to get hit were the capitals, so Brisbane was much fucked from day one.
Australia after a nuclear attack. Siblings are driving away from the cities, trying to stay alive… Well written, good action scenes, I liked the characters.

Link to the review of the first set of stories.

Dying Earth…

Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times
by Sue Burke and others…

Ongoing. I will update as I go along…

THE TYRANNY OF BEAUTY by P.J. Richards ★★★☆☆ Fantasy
“When the Ways first appeared they felt like our salvation, an escape from the desolation we had created. They were the dream that had tempted humans for generations.“
The Ways to Fairyland or the Otherworld open and release the Host. The view into the Ways might be paradisal, but is a really scary place. Not what I expected in an anthology of a dying Earth, but interesting.

Interview with the author about another short story with a similar theme: https://mtmisery.com/2019/01/04/neon-…

THE CULT OF MOTHER-SUN by James Maxstadt ★★★☆☆ SF
A movie director from the future travels back to Earth to make a documentary about the birthplace of humanity. A little light and silly.

IN THE WEEDS by Sue Burke ★★★★☆ Climate fic / SF
Climate change has destroyed Earth as we know it. Weeds grow well, plants adapt. Great extrapolation of potential evolutionary steps of our plantlife. I wish this one had been longer.

Recommended reading by Sue Burke: Semiosis (my review)
Interview with the author about Semiosis: https://www.blackgate.com/2018/02/21/…

GOOD MOTHER by Lena Ng ★★½☆☆ Allegory
Gaia, the Mother of Earth, gives and gives and we take and take and in our entitlement give nothing back. The author wacks us over the head with what we are doing to Earth. A bit pointless.

TWILIGHT AT THE BASEBALL GROUND by George Alan Bradley ★★★★½  Alternate history
The US after a nuclear attack. Set after Star Wars (1977) and before the collapse of the Soviet Union. One boy and his parents in a bunker. Depressing, but well written. Not quite sure what to make of the ending.

Dyeing Earth, next part of reviews is here.

Past and Future

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

– OANNES, FROM THE FLOOD by Adrian Tchaikovsky — archaeology with the help of avatars and a touch of Tomb Raider, after climate change and floods have ravaged our world. ★★★★★

– THE 1ST INTERSPECIES SOLIDARITY FAIR AND PARADEby Bogi Takács — after the aggressive aliens destroyed much of Earth, the scavenging aliens followed and then the good guys, survivors of those first nasty destroyers. They want to help and need a place to stay, but need people to learn to communicate with them first. Though job, when all humans are busy surviving and rebuilding. How about a pride fair? ★★★★★

Bogi Takács (e/em/eir/emself or they pronouns) is a Hungarian Jewish author, critic, and scholar who’s an immigrant to the US.

bogireadstheworld.com 

Make a link, find a way…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six

THE BAHRAIN UNDERGROUND BAZAAR by Nadia Afifi

“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. ★★★☆☆

A little more about the story by the author

Taxi service for body and mind…

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six // Clarkesworld Magazine #163, April 2020 

I will update this anthology as I go along…

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

Can be read for free here // Author‘s website

Singing wood

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six 

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

Can be read for free at Clarkesworld.

From the author‘s blog:

“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.“

https://whereishere.ca/2022/02/01/arboreality-2022/

February 2022 Wrap-up

Here is my February 2022. My page count is a bit lower this month, due to some distracting family issues. I couldn‘t concentrate on new stories and reverted to comfort re-reading quite a lot of older fanfiction early in the month, which I don‘t really track.

Empire of Wild ★★★★☆, ebook, TBR, slow burning horror, indigenous folklore about a Rogarou.
– Iterum ★★★★☆, Stargate Atlantis fanfic, McShep, re-read / comfort reading — and a ton of other Spirk and McShep fanfiction!
– Bots of The Lost Ark in Clarkesworld Magazine #177, June 2021 ★★★★☆, online novelette, bots run amok, aliens threaten, ship and humans need to be saved, little bot to the rescue.
Interview with the Vampire ★★★★☆, ebook, re-read after 30 years or so. Slow start, but re-discovered so many details that I had forgotten. Ultimately rewarding.
– Shadecraft #1 ★★★★★, eComic, online for free at Image Comics, YA, Zadie is being chased by shadows… good artwork.
Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System ★★★★☆, audio, non-fiction, entertaining tour through our solar system and a fascinating look at volcanoes.
– Saga #56 ★★★★★, eComic
– Wikihistory ★★★★☆, short story, online, amusing piss-take on time travel and Wikipedia.
– The Legacy by R.A. Salvatore ★★★¾☆ ebook, TBR / StoryGraphReading Randomizer February #1, dark elves and dwarves battling it out in a lot of deep tunnels.
– An Easy Job ★★★★☆, short story, online, prequel to Sinew and Steel and What They Told

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six (ongoing):
– SCAR TISSUE by Tobias S. Buckell – human MC fosters a robot. Is the mind just bolted into its carriage or the sum of a whole? And what does it mean to be raised and to learn from experience? Sweet story, I got pretty emotional. ★★★★★
– EYES OF THE FOREST by Ray Nayler – scouts in an alien and dangerous forest, very cool concepts. ★★★★½
– SINEW AND STEEL AND WHAT THEY TOLD by Carrie Vaughn – Graff faked his medical records and something really awkward is going to come out. ★★★★¾

StoryGraph Reading Randomizer / backlog:
– The Solitaire Mystery, paper, TBR / February StoryGraph #2, have to see when I can fit this in…

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– For All Mankind, S1, Eps. 1-5 ★★★★☆

Planned for March:
Ring Shout, audio, started…
Mickey7, ebook, Netgalley owned and running late
Ogres, ebook, pub date 15.03., Netgalley owned
The Complete Angel Catbird, Angel Catbird #1-3, Margaret Atwood, comic, owned
– Saga #57, pub date 23.03., pre-ordered
– StoryGraph #1 Even The Wingless
– StoryGraph #2 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

You are in so much trouble when you‘re not sparkly!

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six

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.“

Interview with the author about this story here…

Almost human

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six by Neil Clarke

I just started this anthology with the Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year… I will update as I go along…

Scar Tissue, Tobias S. Buckell — 2nd person singular, awkward! 

“The evening before you sign and take delivery of your son, you call Charlie and tell him you think you’ve made a huge mistake.“

Human MC fosters a robot. Is the mind just bolted into its carriage or the sum of a whole? And what does it mean to be raised instead of being programmed and to learn from experience? 
Sweet story, I got pretty emotional. ★★★★★

Can be read for free here: https://slate.com/technology/2020/05/…

And a response to the story by another author: https://slate.com/technology/2020/05/…

And an interview from 2021 with the author on Clarkesworld: https://clarkesworldmagazine.com/buck…