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2014 Stories 250 - 258

Still playing catch-up, here finally are my thoughts on the contents of Lightspeed Magazine’s November 2014 issue:

250. WHAT GLISTENS BACK by Sunny Moraine The main character is falling towards an alien planet after his one-person lander breaks apart. His husband is the communications officer on the ship he launched from. In what little time is left them, they communicate as best they can, the main character’s life flashing before his eyes. It’s a deeply emotional and thus deeply effecting piece. Stories told in direct address to the reader (“you are…”) are notoriously hard for me to find accessible, but this one absolutely drew me in and kept me involved, so kudos to the author.

251. SPIDERSONG by Susan C. Petrey     A lovely, wistful fairy tale about a lyre spider who ends up living in a lute and bonding with Laurel, the human who learns how to play it. The mating cultures of spiders (eat the male after copulation) and humans are counter-pointed effectively, and from this POV it is our habits which are the alien/unusual. Laurel’s boyfriend Thomas and another lyre spider, Wisterness, play key supporting roles, but the story really is about two self-sufficient women surviving the curves life throws at them.

252. INSTRUCTIONS by Roz Kaveney     Kaveney tells this story from multiple POVs stretched across multiple time-frames, which could in another authors hands have made the story feel disjointed. It’s a credit to the author that I felt the shifts in POV made sense and didn’t throw me out of the story. It’s tale of first contact leading to deeper contact, of humanity (Helena and Philip) gradually growing into “the other” to reach the stars.

253. DRONES DON’T KILL PEOPLE by Annalee Newitz    In the near future, a small group of military drones gain sentience and lead a new revolution. Newitz’s storytelling is as sleek and fast as a drone, and yet still deeply personal.

254. SAH-HARAH by Gheorghe Sasarman (translated by Ursula K. LeGuin) Turning the tropes of classic adventure tales upside-down while still maintaining the recognizable tone of those tales, Sasarman tells us of a European explorer finding what he thinks in the lost city of Sah-Harah. But finding the city is only the beginning of his journey. I liked that the author starts the story where most adventure tales would end: finding the lost city. The narration becomes more claustrophobic as the explorer moves deeper into the city by the only path he can find.

255. A FLOCK OF GRIEF by Kat Howard      The unnamed narrator is a recent widow in a society where birds appear as a physical manifestation of grief but where it has also become the fashion among the rich to hire Mourners to bear that grief’s presence. Snobby society friends affect the way the narrator deals with her grief (she is expected to be mourning her husband but in fact is mourning something both larger and more personal), and the choice she makes creates larger problems. This one haunted me quite a bit even days after reading.

256. ENTER SAUNTERANCE by Matthew Hughes    Another “Kaslo Chronicles” story. I think I said in my last “Kaslo” review that these stories are finally growing on me as I become more familiar with the characters and the story Hughes seems to be telling (I say “seems” because I can’t speak for the author but only what I’m getting out of these linked tales). Erm Kaslo still doesn’t understand how magic works, despite Obron’s attempts to explain. What Kaslo does understand is his own restlessness in a world he no longer understands. In this installment, Obron makes a key move towards their odds of confronting the other-dimensional enemy they know they must face, and that move has to do with how dragons are created.

257. SOLSTICE by Jennifer Stevenson   A musician on the way to her first big gig breaks up with her bandmate boyfriend and finds herself stranded in farmland with no way to reach her gig. Then she’s rescued by a farmwoman with an offer to join the band of a party already in progress at the woman’s home. The story develops from there into a very well-told fairy tale full of musical and magical imagery (and really, are the two so different?), with some heartbreakingly beautiful prose.

258. NEW LIGHT ON THE DRAKE EQUATION by Ian R. MacLeod   Tom Kelly is one of the few humans still clinging to hope of finding alien life via the SETI program, even as life on Earth becomes more alien to him. Kelly himself is a compelling character, as is his longing for a woman who left him long ago, but to this reader the novella felt like it could have ended several times sooner than it did and just kept going.


A Story A Day Keeps Boredom Away

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