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Stories 130-137

Story 130: "The Teacher" by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, from the July 28, 2008 issue of The New Yorker.  Interesting story.  Mostly a slice-of-life thing, but talking about how doing something nice for someone can sometimes have unexpected results.  How being asked to do something and doing it well can sometimes result in anger from the person who asked you to do it in the first place, too.  And about how someone you know for a short time can ultimately have an effect on your outlook.

Stories 131 - 136 are all from Keeper of Dreams, Orson Scott Card's new short story collection:

"The Elephants of Poznan" is post-apocalyptic.  People in a small Russian town are fascinated by the elephants that are moving in as nature reclaims most of the world.  The plague that has stricken humankind has resulted in almost everyone being sterile, except for the story's narrator -- and his son ultimately does not turn out as expected.  I thought the story was okay, but it didn't completely enthrall me.

"Atlantis" ties into Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, but only peripherally.  A researcher uses the Pastwatch technology to discover the truth behind the legends of Atlantis, Noah, Gilgamesh and the Great Flood.  Card looks at the idea logically:  if every religion has a flood story, they must have some kind of common antecedent -- but what if that common point was not the Atlantic Ocean?

"Geriatric Ward" is another look at a plague-stricken future, but in this case the plague is one that causes people to die much younger.  What effect does a shortened lifespan and early alzheimer's have on the way research into such a disease is conducted?

"Heal Thyself" also looks at genetics and disease.  In a future where most diseases and viruses have been brought under a control, the narrator is distraught when a young classmate dies from luekemia after being administered a vaccine against it.  In an attempt to get him to understand why people still die from disease, his scientist parents reveal a big secret.  I found this one also a little unsatisfying.  It felt like an idea only half-developed.

"Space Boy" has also been released as a short novel.  A mother disappears, and her family copes with it each in their own way.  Her oldest son has always dreamed of traveling to space but does not have the mathematical or athletic acumen to be an astronaut.  In a way, this story is about what happens when the universe grants your wish in a way you didn't expect -- and then grants a wish you didn't realize you had made.  I'm still not sure why Card goes out of his way to reference Rumplestilskin, though.

"Angles" ties this section of Card's story collection together -- it's about interdimensional travel, brain research (how do we actually access memory?), and greed.  He admits that it's more a collection of ideas than an actual story, but I quite enjoyed it.

Story 137: "Salvage" by Orson Scott Card, from the collection Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams.  This one ties to Card's Folk of the Fringe novel and also appears in his early short story collection Maps In A Mirror.   A Salvaged Goods Runner decides he wants to find the gold he's heard is hidden in the sunken Mormon Temple in old Salt Lake City.  He ropes two friends who were raised in the Mormon faith to help him take a boat out.  What he learns is unexpected by him, but fairly predictable to the reader.

I'm taking a break from "Keeper of Dreams" this week because it's a thick hardcover that I don't feel like packing, so I'll be reading more in "Wastelands" instead.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
caffyolay
Jul. 27th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
I haven't read any short stories in weeks and weeks. I find it goes like that sometimes. I've got a couple of interesting looking volumes on the library pile now though, so will post about those when I get to them.

One thing I *have* done is read something by Orson Scott Card at last - Ender's Game. I found it to be page turner even though a few things annoyed me. I've now got Speaker for the Dead on my tbr mountain.
talekyn
Jul. 28th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
We all go through phases; I haven't picked up a novel since the end of my last travel swing even though there are way too many calling to me. I didn't even bring one on this trip, figuring I'd focus on the short stories instead since I have so many issues of The New Yorker piled up as well as these two anthologies I'm reading.

But OH! I have to recommend before you read "Speaker for the Dead," read "Ender's Shadow." It is fantastic. Bean's story.
caffyolay
Jul. 29th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip! I've made a note of that and will search out Ender's Shadow asap and read it first.
newwaytowrite
Jul. 27th, 2008 01:27 pm (UTC)
"The Teacher"
sounds worth a read. I have a long list that I must write up. Soon. Soon. Okay maybe later. lol
talekyn
Jul. 28th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Re: "The Teacher"
That one should be on their website for a while. Looking forward to seeing what you make of it. I tried to not give too much away.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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