keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* Via [ profile] yhlee, musical stairs on YouTube!

* Also via [ profile] yhlee, A Regency Romance in 2 Minutes.

* Michael M. Jones puts out an open call for submissions to his new anthology, Scheherazade's Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing and Transformation.

* Recent Strange Horizons pieces that are excellent: poem "Thirteen Scifaiku for Blackbirds" by Joanne Merriam and story "Minghun: Unlikely Patron Saints, No. 5" by Amy Sisson.

* [ profile] yhlee (Yoon Ha Lee) has an awesome story up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies called "The Pirate's Daughter," about words and poetry and music and awesomeness.

* Another enrapturing story of music from Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Michael Anthony Ashley's "To Kiss a Granite Choir," Part 1 and Part 2.

* Quite the depressing, and truthful, article about grad school in the humanities.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Some of these have been sitting in my bookmarks for a while, so I'll try to mention the new stuff first.

* Wyrding Studios is having an end-of-year clearance sale! I have my eye on Skylit Revisited #6, a gorgeous choker-style necklace; but I don't really need to spend $50 on a necklace when I hardly wear the jewelry I already own, so someone else go buy it and remove the temptation.

* Two great stories from Strange Horizons: Meredith Schwartz's How to Hold Your Breath, which packs quite a lot into under 700 words; and a lovely modern fairy-tale from Elizabeth Bear, Love Among the Talus (Mongolian-inspired worldbuilding is a bonus).

* The NYT publishes an interesting college admissions Q&A with reps from Yale University, Pomona College, Lawrence University, and the University of Texas - Austin. It's a representative mix and a good portion of the responses are enlightening; the other portion is amusing in its dodge-the-intent tactics.

* I haven't read Cherryh, but apparently her novels feature an unusual common theme--the rape of men.

* If you haven't seen it already: Every Fanfic Ever Written.

* [ profile] vagabond_sal summarizes, with a brief anecdote, the Avatar casting issue. [ profile] shati does the same with a smiley face. And here's how you can help. --I did say some of these links were old.

* *bounce* Also also, people other than my recipient like my Yuletide story! I am so happy inside, because I do like it myself (which is rare). No link, of course, although I welcome guesses. I limit myself to offering only fandoms whose canon I own, which is a decidedly short but secretive list. (And I'm so curious about my own mystery author, because the prose and the characters are just. Perfect.)
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Via Strange Horizons, which seems to specialize in stories that I don't expect to like but end up liking anyway (and with a readable site layout):

* "Little Brother (TM)" by Bruce Holland Rogers, a just-longer-than-flash SF story about sibling rivalry that starts out ordinary with a dark twist ending.
* "Huntswoman" by Merrie Haskell, a unique fantasy retelling of Snow White in sparkling, sparse prose. The end didn't entirely convince me, but I admire its boldness and the story proper is just beautiful.
* "The Jenna Set" by Daniel Kaysen, one of the longer online stories that have sustained my interest. It's semi-plausible SF written in a light and entertainingly sardonic style, the characters very realistic and reminding me of contemporary romance novels like Sex as a Second Language. Although I must say, I prefer the geeky Kelly/Abbie relationship over the protagonist's (Jenna/Ray).

* From Clarkesworld, "Orm the Beautiful" by Elizabeth Bear is a melancholy dragon story set in alternate-present-day--and a dragon story rec from me is rare indeed; I still can't get past the first chapter of Temeraire.

* I actually dislike the style of "The Empire of Ice Cream" by Jeffrey Ford, and I don't find the characters particularly compelling, but: synesthesia! And musical composition! And the ending satisfactorily resolves the central conflict without dipping into my expectations, which was, well, unexpected. (Don't recall who rec'd this story originally, but [ profile] yhlee would like the musical bits a lot, I think.) Warning: the site archives, where I read this, has a terrible split-color background. You'll probably want to be smarter than me and Ctrl-A/Ctrl-C the story into Word or Notepad.

I conclude that endings are absolutely crucial for me; I culled several stories from this linkblogging post because the ending fell flat, and the ending of Ford's piece let it slip in despite the protagonist's irritating arrogance.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Fantasy & Science Fiction July '08
by Gordon Van Gelder (ed.)
160 pages (paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Science Fiction

This review should attest to exactly how far behind I am on reading--I was sent this copy of the magazine for free, as part of a blogger giveaway, in early May. And I'm reviewing the July issue in late August. Ah, well.

My verdict: highly disappointing, considering that F&SF is basically the tippy-top of the speculative short fiction market. Anthologies are hit-or-miss for me, but this issue of F&SF contained one story that I loved and one that I enjoyed out of 7 stories. The magazine leads off with "Fulbrim's Finding" by Matthew Hughes, a long and extremely boring SF story about a "discriminator," aka private investigator, who searches for a missing "seeker of substance" and in the process discovers the truth of reality. It doesn't live up to such weighty intentions, being presented with stiff, distracting prose and an unsympathetic, unethical protagonist. The world-building is unoriginal and too techy, leaving the reader bewildered like Fulbrim's poor wife Caddice. Ending parallels theme; both are thoroughly unsatisfying.

Thankfully, the next story lifted my spirits. "Reader's Guide" by Lisa Goldstein operates on a truly original conceit and goes on to support itself as a light (though not wholly humorous), enlightening tale. It is impossible to describe without spoilers, so I won't try, but Goldstein's contribution is the sole reason this will remain on my bookshelf. However, Michael Blumlein's novella "The Roberts" should not be discounted. It uses the extra length successfully. The world-building isn't standout but the characters are interesting, major and minor both--I especially liked Stanovič's accent. Plot builds evenly to a strong conclusion and a new understanding of the (apt) title.

After which, I had to endure four stories of varying ennui. Paul DiFilippo's "Plumage from Pegasus" begins with an intriguing concept but has no meaning or substance. I seriously can't tell if it's fiction or nonfiction. This is not a good thing. "Enfant Terrible" by Scott Dalrymple follows; weird (in the imitation-punk fashion) is the best descriptor, and the second-person narration feels like an unnecessary gimmick. I skimmed Albert E. Cowdrey's "Poison Victory" one-sentence-per-page at one point--a new low of boredom, I believe--and on top of that, the story is semi-incomprehensible due to random German phrases. "The Dinosaur Train," by James L. Cambias, ends the issue on a slightly stronger note, but only in comparison. I found the plotline suspenseful but the ending lackluster and predictable. Some characters approach caricature and others are realistic--too realistic, as I wasn't invested in their fates.

I will probably still buy another copy of F&SF in the future, when [ profile] yhlee's story comes out (the elemental-music one, I believe?), but that will be in spite of rather than because of this complimentary copy. My regrets.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A funny comic about writers, readers, and compulsory reading.

[ profile] yhlee discusses her [ profile] livelongnmarry music commission for [ profile] swan_tower, a.k.a. Marie Brennan. Follow through for a link to download the mp3.

An online copyright slider.

The Guardian's Top 10 Asian Crime Novels, a significant number of which are written by POC. Also the top 10 SF novels written by women.

Via [ profile] magicnoire, an addictive game called Word Vine.

Via [ profile] telophase, a small-press release of Sherwood Smith's bildungsroman prequel to Crown/Court Duel, A Stranger to Command. I probably can't afford to buy it, but you should.

Via [ profile] yhlee, Charles Coleman Finlay's short and original short story "Footnotes."

For those who followed the Helix debacle, the alternative archive Transcriptase will allow you to enjoy selected stories without contributing to Helix's pageviews.

And probably much more to come, sporadically, as I work through two weeks of Internet-reading backlog.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Ninth Annual Collection
by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (eds.)
534 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

I've only read one story from this anthology--Ellen Kushner's "The Hunt of the Unicorn." In some ways it was disappointing because I'd expected a Riverside book; while the setting is reminiscent of the city, there are no overt references and it really is a standalone. The ending also had no punch for me although it might be better understood upon rereading. Kushner's weakest work to date for me; but it's old too (1995), so I'll cut her some slack.

Obviously not a review of the collection, or even a review for anyone other than myself.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
"La Serenissima" by Catherynne M. Valente is gorgeous. The plot meanders dreamily at first, but by the end it all makes perfect sense. Magic is woven throughout in the thread of words and I love the revised Church. I don't think I understand it but I admire and revel. Valente's short-form pieces seem to be working much better for me than her poetry or novel; I've read snippets of both and they fit together like made-in-China jigsaw pieces, unfortunately shaped the same and thus impossible to complete.
keilexandra: (glomp)
Strange Horizons has a lovely new short story up, "In Lieu of a Thank You" by Gwynne Garfinkle. Butterflies wings and feminism, oh my! Also, an equally lovely sestina (which is horrendously hard to write, I know from experience) by Elizabeth Barrette, "Dancing with Stones."

Go forth and taste the loveliness!
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
I'm putting this review, perhaps the longest book review I've ever written, under a cut for both length and content. A warning: I now hold a decidedly low opinion of Leslie What.

In which I exemplify logorrhea in written form )

While I was initially attracted to the concept of Logorrhea--I love spelling bees and vocabulary words--I chose to read it for Theodora Goss's Kubla Khan story. That, and other surprises such as Daniel Abraham (whose novels have now moved up my TBR list significantly) and Duncan's unexpected success in short form made this collection satisfying. Other stories fell in the mediocre hit-or-miss range, with the notable exceptions of Michael Moorcock's trite "A Portrait in Ivory" and certainly Leslie What's tale "Tsuris." Overall, an average book for me as far as anthologies go, with stories at both extremes. I tentatively issue a broad recommendation because the range of genre and style here is so wide; you will probably find at least one story to like.

ETA: Minor edits to correct grammar.

keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Via [personal profile] yhlee: I wholeheartedly second her rec of "In Ashes" by Helen Keeble. Elementalism done right, indeed. I love the foreshadowing especially, and the clear motivations of every single character. On top of that, the ending is fabulous.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
"Ki Do (The Way of Trees)" by Sarah Thomas is a uniquely ethereal story that I loved. Go read it.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
"The House Beyond Your Sky" by Benjamin Rosenbaum is a disorienting and quietly powerful story about faith, universes, and what it means to be God.

2007 Hugo Nominee "Kin" by Bruce McAllister is a gentle story, yet riveting from the first line, and also a musing on alien cultures.

"In Stone" by Helen Keeble is a tale of deep love and the sacrifices made for the good of a people.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
"Urchins, While Swimming"
by Catherynne M. Valente

Published by Clarkesworld Magazine, "Urchins, While Swimming" is a lovely, melancholy short story based around the Russian myth of rusalka. I didn't quite understand a crucial plot turning point, but I accepted it--by then I was too caught up in the story to care. Valente's prose makes me yearn for more than just this taste; hopefully my Clarkesworld Books order comes in soon, because I have her poetry collection in there. I will definitely be reading The Orphan's Tales as soon as I have a free moment to savor it (and at least until after I finish reading my small borrowed-from-friends pile).

"Urchins, While Swimming" is free, too, so go read it!
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 30th Anniversary Anthology
by Sheila Williams (ed.)
349 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/SF

I'm going to just record my personal reader-thoughts on each of the stories, since short stories are very much a matter of taste anyway and this is outside my usual genre. Hopefully you know me well enough to be able to judge disparities. Recommended stories are marked with a *.

Overall, I liked 6 stories, half-liked 2 stories ("The Happy Man" and "The Children of Time"), either hated or was indifferent toward the other 7. Not bad stats, although the organization is skewed with most of the good stories toward the beginning. My favorites were Octavia Butler's "Street Sounds" for emotional impact and Kelly Link's "Flying Lessons" for creativity.

Reading this anthology has taught me what my limits are regarding hard SF; there was more than one story that I appreciated on a technical level but just couldn't become engaged enough to care. (I also confirmed that Kim Stanley Robinson's writing and I do not get along.) Although I wouldn't ever subscribe to Asimov's, it was worth reading for my first glimpse of Butler and Link, plus testing the waters of hardcore SF.

If anyone has also read this anthology or any of the individual stories, I'd very much like to know your thoughts.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
In celebration of Halloween tomorrow (and inspired by [personal profile] fireriven's boundless excitement about the holiday), I give you [profile] laitma (Sharon!)'s flash-fiction piece, "Angel Mother." (Line-edited by yours truly.) I think it's more lovely than scary, but other opinions have differed. Julia's writing has spoiled me for horror.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
I've had the PDF file on my desktop for ages, but finally got around to reading it this morning.

And I really liked it. I love the setting--Cambodia and just Asia in general doesn't get written about enough--and I loved the characters. The only quibble I have is with the whole untrue story thing, because it felt unnecessary. It was unique, but what's the point of it?

Still, a great story.


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January 2011



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