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…

Starting the new year with…

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

Keeping up-to-date with the most buzzworthy and cutting-edge science fiction requires sifting through countless magazines, e-zines, websites, blogs, original anthologies, single-author collections, and more—a task that can be accomplished by only the most determined and voracious readers. For everyone else, Night Shade Books is proud to present the latest volume of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, a yearly anthology compiled by Hugo and World Fantasy Award–winning editor Neil Clarke, collecting the finest that the genre has to offer, from the biggest names in the field to the most exciting new writers.

From the book blurb

I haven‘t made many reading plans for next year and I want to keep it that way. Mood reading, working on my real shelf with paperbooks, cleaning up that NetGalley shelf… Maybe I‘ll join a challenge spontaneously, right now I want to really keep my reading calendar open.

One of the buddy reads I committed to so far is this anthology. It comes out at the end of January in my corner of the woods. We will probably read one story per week, so it will take a while to get through it. I wouldn‘t mind reading more short stories again next year anyway. There are a few other short story collections that have been lingering on my shelf…

What are your plans? Do you read short stories and what are your preferred magazines and websites for it?

Wrapping up that challenge…

I don‘t think I will adding anything else to this challenge, so here is a round-up of the #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge. I finally turned to some books that had lingered much too long on my TBR already and discovered something new as well. Definitely a good challenge

Reading Writers of Color 2021

B285931-D-5469-4-B93-A0-FD-DDBC6-EF7-F859

JanuaryBloodchild — Becoming — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

My first Octavia Butler and it was good. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not. Interesting. And worth reading. 

I also enjoyed the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. I watched a short documentary with her about the Becoming booktour as well. Obviously she has a lot of important things to say about empowerment, education, equal rights—you name it—, but my primary interest really was to get to know her a little better and look behind the facade. Reading about the banana yellow car of her husband, for example. Or about going to couple‘s counseling. And I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, up until the part where she and her husband embarked on their presidential campaign. 

FebruaryThe Story of Human Language  — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
It was interesting, even with some bits in between that dragged a bit. The accompanying pdf was open most of the time, while I listened to the lectures. Good enough to consider further offerings by The Great Courses.

MarchDavid Mogo, Godhunter — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
One of the 5-star reads of 2021. Let‘s call it Godpunk. Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. This is really 3 novellas stuck together. I learned a lot about Nigeria and Lagos, looking up something or other frequently.

AprilDawn — Elatsoe — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

My second visit with Octavia E. Butler. I liked Bloodchild, but Dawn didn‘t work for me. Struggling with consent issues again. The book hasn‘t aged well. The plot felt too simplistic, there was no real suspense, no great twists or massive surprises.

Elatsoe came recommended by a friend. Yes, it‘s Young Adult, not my favourite genre. But it looked interesting. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. And while I didn‘t bite my nails, the story was not bad and the writing was good. Essentially it‘s UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. My favourite gadget: instant teleportation via fae ring.

JuneA Dead Djinn in Cairo — The Haunting of Tram Car 015 — A Master of Djinn — The Murders of Molly Southbourne — Farmhand, Vol. 1: Reap What Was Sown — Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1 — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

The month of by P. Djèlí Clark. Great stuff. Egypt, Cairo, Djinns, ghuls, sorcerers, magic, airships, gas light, aerial trams… steampunk plus electricity. A fun universe.

Molly Southbourne was weird, disturbing, creepy. Slightly disgusting in parts. It was like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. The writing is very good though. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world.

Both comics were good, if not Earth shattering..

JulyDominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
Reading this anthology took a while. It is a very strong anthology. Even the stories that didn‘t fully grab me gave me plenty to think about. Recommended! 

AugustRosewater — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
My second Tade Thompson of the year. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. A shanty town develops around it. Eventually there is a opening through which something escapes and heals people. A city called Rosewater springs up around the alien dome, benefitting from these regular healings. We follow Kaaro, a „sensitive“, in the employ of some shady secret agency. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog. The whole thing felt pretty pointless to me and I actively disliked Kaaro.

OctoberWas weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen – non-fiction — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
Alice Hasters is a German journalist, writing about institutionalized racism in Germany, drawing from her own experiences growing up in Cologne. I don‘t think this book has been translated into English. The title would be: What white people don’t want to hear about racism (but should know). I liked the book. Hasters writes well, narrates well, gives good examples and presents her arguments objectively. The book doesn‘t delve deeply into the topic and is surprisingly non-critical. Quiet a short piece, a bit on the shallow side. A good starting point.

Sorry for not linking it all properly, I felt a bit lazy… Anyway, good challenge, I enjoyed taking part and had fun researching books for the various prompts. I found a few authors that I plan to pick up again.

Did you take part in any entertaining challenges this year? Which challenges are you planning to takle next year?

Monthly wrap-up

My October 2021:

– Ancillary Mercy ★★★★★ audio, Imperial Radch #3, re-read. I really liked this. Not sure what I did during the first read, but I definitely did not pay attention, because I barely remembered any of this. Great fun, I loved all the AIs and their dynamics. And Translator Zaiat was precious.
We Have Always Been Here ★★★★☆ ebook, colony ship (is it?), AI, a litte horror, mystery, dystopia.
– Was weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen ★★★★☆ audio, about institutionalized racism in Germany and the experiences of a black woman growing up in Cologne. Not bad, a bit on the shallow side. Very readable.
– Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora★★★★☆ ebook, #ReadBIPOC2021, TBR pile, Netgalley. This is a very strong anthology. Even the stories that didn‘t fully grab me gave me plenty to think about. Recommended! 
– Dark Path ★★★☆☆ ebook, TBR pile, mystery fluff. Buddhist forensic pathologist solves a case in Florida.

Short stories:
– The Lottery ★★★★☆ online. Famous story by Shirley Jackson from 1948.
– You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can’t Help Me, Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 ★★★★☆ online. About a trans man and his Jurassic Park-inventing dad.
– You Perfect, Broken Thing, Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020★★★★☆ online. Dystopia? Winning a race to stay alive…

Poetry:
– Uncanny Magazine Issue 41: July/August 2021 ★★★★☆ online, I read three of the four poems, about Japan and sacrifice, Beowulf and Madame Curie, here: https://uncannymagazine.com/issues/un…
– What to expect from the Hadron Collider as a college roommate, Uncanny Magazine Issue 16: May/June 2017 ★★★★☆ online, pretty amusing poem.
– A tenjō kudari (“ceiling hanger” yōkai) defends her theft, Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020 ★★★★☆ online, a spectre gets her revenge.

Currently reading:
– Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paperback, TBR pile
– The Resurrectionists, ebook, Netgalley, TBR pile

Abandoned reread:
– BR zombie Persepolis Rising, audio, Expanse #7, re-read
– BR zombie Tiamat’s Wrath, audio, Expanse #8, re-read

Movies & TV watched:
– No Time to Die ★★★★★, last 007 with Craig, cinema.
– Smoking Aces ★★¾☆☆, action thriller comedy with lots of blood, pretty pointless.