Passing Strange by Ellen Klages starts in the present day. An elderly woman named Helen learns that she doesn’t have long to live. She’s not overly troubled by this, but she does have a few things she wants to do before she dies, including selling a piece of artwork to a rare book dealer. Continue reading
The anthology Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel (which I contributed a story to) just won a League of Utah Writer’s Gold Quill award for Published Collection! The award was presented at the Quills Conference last Saturday. I wasn’t able to attend, but it sounds like it was a blast.
My story that appears in the collection, “The Miracle of the Gulls”, is partly based on the true story of Olive Oatman, partly based on the miracle of the gulls event from Mormon history, and also a little bit inspired by the Hell on Wheels television series. It’s a steampunk story featuring zeppelins and mechanical men, so it’s not exactly historical fiction, although I did read Olive Oatman’s 1857 biography for research and sprinkled a lot of old-fashioned words into the narrative for flavor. I loved working with editor John M. Olsen on the story. His suggestions improved the story a lot.
If you haven’t read this award-winning anthology yet, be sure to give it a read.
Disorder is a collection of horror stories released by Amazon and free to read for Amazon Prime members. I present the stories below in the order I read them.
“The Best Girls” by Min Jin Lee takes place in Seoul, South Korea in 1989. A poor couple who have only girls are overjoyed when they finally have a boy because he’ll actually be able to get a good job and be able to provide for the family while the girls cannot. His older sisters aren’t upset that their little brother gets special treatment, they acknowledge that, given the culture they live in, he is considered more valuable than them. This actually wasn’t a horror story until the final, brutal sentence. Continue reading
“The Work of Wolves” by Tegan Moore is probably the best story I’ve read so far in the pages of Asimov’s. (Why didn’t the author get her name on the cover when there was enough room for all the authors’ names there?) Our viewpoint character is Sera, a search and rescue dog who has been artificially enhanced. Sera’s human handler isn’t used to working with an enhanced dog, so Sera has to train her. Because she doesn’t act like a regular dog, people are uneasy around her. I liked this description of a drone: “The sound of it is like an itch inside my head, where I can’t reach it. It is like the feeling before a sneeze.” It also describes the sound of a drone as wasp-like. (Coincidentally, I was reading this while camping and mistook a passing drone for a wasp at first.) Sera ends up having to chase a rat being controlled by terrorists though a power plant. A very enjoyable read with a surprise ending I did not see coming.
“The American highway is a self-contained system, Stan thought. Its rest stops have video games, bathrooms, restaurants, and gas stations. There’s no reason ever to leave the interstate highway system, its deadness and perfection and freedom. When you do reach your exit, you always have a slight sense of loss, as when awakening from a dream.” Continue reading
Based on a review I read, I was really looking forward to this one. I love the title and the cover image is amazing. But of course, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I’ve learned in the past that it’s a bad idea to get too excited about movies based on the trailer. The ones I look forward to the most usually don’t live up to my expectations and I walk away from the theater disappointed. So the fact that I was disappointed by this book may have more to do with my high expectations going into than the book itself. Continue reading
“A fear of cosmic indifference suddenly seemed comical, or downright naive. Tester looked back to Malone and Mr. Howard. Beyond them he saw the police forces at the barricades as they muscled the crowd of Negroes back; he saw the decaying facade of his tenement with new eyes; he saw the patrol cars parked in the middle of the road like three great black hounds waiting to pounce on all these gathered sheep. What was indifference compared to malice? ‘Indifference would be such a relief,’ Tommy said.” Continue reading
My story “Spinollio” was just published in the anthology Machinations and Mesmerism: Tales Inspired by E. T. A. Hoffman. For those who don’t know, E. T. A. Hoffman was a writer, artist, and musician who is probably best known for writing The Nutcracker and Mouse King. He also wrote the first detective story and some consider him to have started the Romantic movement. My favorite stories of his are “The Sandman” (a creepy horror story featuring an automaton and eyeballs) and “New Year’s Eve” (featuring a man without a reflection meeting a man without a shadow). He wrote romance, horror, and humor and wrote for both adults and children.
“Spinollio” is a pastiche I did of various Hoffman stories. I included some of his humor and some of his horror. I tried my best to write it in his voice, although I’ve only read his work in translation, so I guess I’m imitating the translator’s style and word choice as much as Hoffman’s. Like Hoffman’s stories, it takes place in a time where men always wore swords at their side, women regularly used snuff, and things like wigs, duels, and fainting were all the rage. Be sure to check it out!
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders focuses on the grief Abraham Lincoln felt when his favorite son William died. He was so grief-stricken that he visited Willie’s tomb and held his body on multiple occasions. Making the death even more unbearable, it happened during the first year of the Civil War. Continue reading
I don’t usually read Young Adult, but I really liked this one. (As an aside, I’ve often wondered what makes a particular book YA and I’ve come across many different answers over the years. Some people would say that what distinguishes YA from other genres is that there’s less swearing, sex, and violence, however I don’t think this is it since many YA stories actually contain above-average swearing, sex, and violence. Some say the only thing that makes a story YA is if the main character is a young adult, but many sections of the Game of Thrones series are told from a young adult perspective and it’s not considered YA. Also, the Hobbit and other stories are considered YA even though they’re not told from a young adult’s perspective. Continue reading