Thursday, April 21, 2011
I've subscribed to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, for some time now, and while I've flat out loved several issues in the past, lately the stories haven't been per my tastes, which, in all fairness, has fluctuated greatly in the last few years. In attempting to hammer out the reasons why (and why that market is so hard to break into), I've come to the conclusion that I love misdirection. There's nothing more compelling and memorable for me personally than a story that goes one way and then wham! hits you with all its got, in a completely new direction. Or, I'm great if the direction is predictable, but there's an emotional bang for the buck. (Take, for instance, a story I commented on a few blogs back, in Strahan's Best of SFF Volume 5, and originally, Subterranean: the Maureen McHugh. Not only was I shocked about halfway through at the main character's actions, but I was horrified at the person he was, and that I'd "liked" him in the first half of the story. And then this..! Also, from Black Static issue 18, a story that I will likely never forget: Mercurio D. Rivera's "Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us." As this SF Signal review said, one of the best of the year.)
But those kinds of stories, with misdirection, don't appear often in F&SF, and so I wasn't sure what to expect with the new Van Gelder-edited anthology released by O/R Books, Welcome to the Greenhouse. Marketed as science fiction on climate change, two things I happen to be very interested in, I've now happily dog-eared and folded it up, and I consider it a boost to my anthology collection.
The stories cover a variety of positions regarding climate change: eminent change, change currently taking place, post-change, etc, and do an excellent job at avoiding any hitting on political views with hammers of authority. The result is a thought-provoking collection, although it leans to the grimmer side (which I found appropriate). The authors include many familiar to the SF world, such as Bruce Sterling, Alan Dean Foster, Mathew Hughes, and Paul Di Fillippo, and some I've never heard of, including Michael Alexander and Chris Lawson. Out of the sixteen stories, only three are by women - which is a shortcoming, I think, but not enough to avoid the book. What's more important is that climate change is being discussed and written about, which will hopefully encourage the reader to consider both the facts and possibilities of this as an issue one day, or even today. It's far too easy to stick one's head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist, and several of these stories even reflect upon that, too.
(This is also why the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres rock. We also have Atwood, Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, and dozens of other books regarding this topic out there on the shelves.)
The stories. Most of them will appeal to those who subscribe and devour those regularly published in F&SF. To my delight, there were also some that appealed to people like me. Not so much with the misdirection, but with the emotional weight they carried, or that they threw me off from the beginning and I never quite regained my ground, resulting in a meaningful read.
My favorite three:
Gregory Benford's "Eagle." Even though I read it a week ago, I still remember how I felt when I was finished the last sentence, sitting in my favorite chair at the coffee shop. Power is a funny thing; who has it, who doesn't, and who should have it. And where's the line, when it comes to the health of our world? I wasn't certain what to think, or if I had even been rooting for the right person, which made me uncomfortable, and made the story memorable, perhaps for a long time to come.
"The Bridge," by George Guthridge. It horrified me once I finally got into it, as the content isn't for those that shy away from the ugly, and the unhappy, non-storybook endings. Not quite as brutal as Paul Haines' novella "Wives," from the X6 anthology of last year, but a distant cousin.
Paul di Filippo's "FarmEarth." I went into this story with certain expectations, as di Filippo's writing isn't for a reader like me. This story started off with unusual words and flippant narrative, yet I was so interested to find out what he wasn't telling us that I was drawn in despite myself. Before I realized it, the story got bumped up to my top five of the collection. And even in the last few days, I've found myself thinking about what di Filippo was saying, and how quickly we as a culture are so quick to believe what anyone tells us, without thinking for ourselves.
All in all, it's a varied and worthwhile read. Add it to your anthology collection!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
That's right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I'm working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch - thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man. Oh, so a blog entry. Here's the deal:
Go read Tom Crosshill's "Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son" in this week's Lightspeed. It's very...well, just read it yourself, so I don't have to give anything away.
Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I've never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I'm a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I'm plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it's worth it.) However, once you get past the "I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c" lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world - but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I'm fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.
We're in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I'm not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is...terrifying, for lack of a better description.
What's next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can't wait.
We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn't too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn't seem to fit the role (which I don't believe I've ever said about her before).
Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I've just finished Gordon Van Gelder's Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I've started Daryl Gregory's Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer's new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.
What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that's the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you're on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.
No blog entry wouldn't be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz's version) from Appetite for Reduction. I've made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I'm really excited to make more from Veganomican, too.
Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn't a plus, either. I'd like to try baking them next time. If that's even possible.
There's a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I'll go back to the Harvester chapter.