While not finished reading, I am enjoying this edition much more now that I know which parts to skip over...
This time, I very much enjoyed both Ebook Exclusives included. The first was a Novel Except from Blackwood by Gwenda Bond which started the story of Miranda, a socially outcast girl who starts to see mirages, only to further complicate her life. The second was a novella called Dragonfly from Ursulu K. Le Guin.
For me, reading Le Guin is always comforting, reminding me of snuggling up in warm, fluffy blanket. There is something dependable about her writing and her style means that reading her work is always more about the journey than the destination. On the other hand, this means I experience little urgency when reading her. After painstakingly tracking down her Gifts, Powers etc trilogy, I lost the third book half way through and only felt a pang of regret. I would have liked to have known what happened but didn't feel too upset about it.
One of the ironies I picked up reading the article on her is that the Earthsea movie that she did not like at all is what drew me to reading her books in the first place.
Short Stories: Science Fiction
Flowing Unimpeded to the Enlightenment by Robert Reed.
"Her name is Rhonda, but she hasn't used that ugly business since she was ten.
Artemis is a name pulled from myth, and that's what friends call her, and strangers, and it's how phantoms refer to her when she's walking inside her own dreams."
I think this is the first Robert Reed story that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Each character in the story is clear and interesting and I thought it quite fun that right after discussing the Fermi paradox in one of the articles, there was a story to explore it. I also loved the exploration of the nature of ideas and what they really mean:
"ideas as being vivid organic beings, how they collect to form communities, and some of these communities are strong and enduring, while others perish in a day or twenty years."
Nearly Departed by Pat Cadigan
Allie Deadpan explores brains, but she prefers to stay away from dead ones. In this story, she takes the plunge and so continues an interesting story which touches on the nature of creativity, sanity and identity. When I got to the end, I couldn't believe how long ago this story had been written. Definitely still relevant.
Art of War by Nancy Kress
Like with Robert Reed, I'm not sure I've enjoyed a story by Nancy Kress before. But this story, I loved! One of my favourite things is where the emotional journey of the character is deeply intertwined with the concepts being explored, creating an inner echo to the story. In this story, the relationship between mother and son and the disastrous assumptions they can make about each other is echoed in the relationship between humans and an alien species. I also thought the construction of this story was masterful.
Bear and Shifty by Benjamin Parzybok
This story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the apocalypse was brought by aliens and humans drift in the fringes, scrounging what they can. It continues the theme of inter-species communication and while not being as profound as the Nancy Kress story, it possesses its own poignancy and human insight.