All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anderson. DNF at 55%. It’s well written, and in fact is charmingly hyper real, very much like Lemony Snicket for adults, but there was barely any breath of plot even at the half way mark, and I wasn’t loving the characters enough to stick it out (also, voting deadlines and a Lot More to read). Might come back if there’s time.
That game we played during the war by Carrie Vaughn. Two sides of a war (one psychic, one not), have two people from the opposing sides come together to play chess. I was charmed by the ‘strategy’ of playing chess against a psychic, but kept feeling like there should be more than the obvious ‘we’re all humans, isn’t war awful’ message, and there wasn’t, quite.
Seasons of glass and iron by Amal El-Mohtar. Tabitha walks, and thinks of shoes...Amira makes an art of stillness. Aaannnd I have a winner. This is a queer, reimagined fairy tale, and a lush and beautifully written one at that. It suffers ever so slightly from not having a plot, but that also goes hand in hand with the set up, so I don’t begrudge it much at all. Would read a sequel, and anything else of this author’s that crossed my path, in a heartbeat.
Current voting for Short Stories:
1. Seasons of glass and iron
2. Our talons can crush galaxies
3. A fist of permutations in lightning and wildflowers
4. A city born great
5. The game we played during the war
6. No award
I started the novelettes with “You’ll surely drown here if you stay” by Alyssa Wong, realised where it was going and just about keened with feelings. I imprinted so, so hard on The man who fell in love with the moon by Tom Spanbauer, and this feels so much like that in shorter form and I literally stopped reading to savour it for last.
The art of space travel by Nina Allan. Very well written story about the second attempt to get a human crew up to Mars, and most importantly the generally anonymous people around them, in this case the head housekeeper of a nearby hotel. I am wildly into what this story does, and how it does it (it rambles ever so slightly, but not unforgivably so): characters assuming the reader knows what came before ‘of course, the whole world knows what happened to the first crew...’ etc, and smart women and old women and ill women, and mothers and relationships and family which makes it a “smaller” “quieter” story, which is I guess, how we diminish women’s writing, actually. I didn’t 100% get the impact of the last line, which is a minor point against it, but I’ll be ranking it, that’s for sure.
The jewel and her lapidary by Fran Wilde. Competently written, but not great? The excerpt/opening chapter or two seems very... the word young writing, comes to mind. Or someone who’s aiming for a much younger audience than I was anticipating. Points for female main characters, but I’m not inclined to rank this one as a Hugo contender, or pick up the rest of the novelette.
The tomato thief by Ursula Vernon. I’m a little ways in, and this is so gentle and lovely so far, and has made me chuckle out loud. Looking forward to the rest.