Sunday, 20 March 2016

Short Story Sunday 16: “The Blabber” by Vernor Vinge

This is our first Short Story Sunday edition where I write about only a single story. I’ve tried to avoid that as I’d prefer to showcase more than a single author by post (special editions notwithstanding) and more than a single story. Variety is nice and so are posts that are longer than just two hundred words. This post is different because the story being reviewed is quite long. It’s a novella, really. Still, it’s science fiction, it’s short, and it’s really quite good.

“The Blabber” by Vernor Vinge
Read in New Destinies Volume VI/Winter 1988 (1988), edited by Jim Baen
Originally published in Threats … and Other Promises (1988), editor unknown (but might also be Jim Baen)

“The Blabber” is part of Vinge’s Zones of Thought series which include a trilogy of novels that begin with the award winning A Fire Upon the Deep. Not only is that an excellent title, but it’s said to be an excellent read. I wouldn’t know as my copy remains unread. I’ll get around to it one day and likely sooner now that I’ve read this novella which takes place just after the events of the first book.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Short Story Sunday 15: Catherynne M. Valente and Rick Cook

No introduction this post, we're heading straight into the reviews.

“How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente
Read in Year’s Best SF 16 (2011), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

“How to Become a Mars Overlord” is written as a seminar intended on providing guidance to people interested in conquering the prized planet, Mars. Valente is more interesting in recreating a sense of wonder and yearning for the red planet than she is in telling a story. All of her examples of Mars overlords are pastiche or echoes of pulp stories featuring the titular planet. If they’re not recognizable as a creation of another author, then they’re created by Valente with that same spirit in mind. The whole thing is very inventive and full of energy but it’s done in a style that doesn’t work for me.  

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Short Story Sunday 14: Andy Duncan, Charles de Lint, and David G. Hartwell Tribute

This series originally began with a focus on science fiction short stories. I think it’s a genre that works really well with this particular form of writing and it’s given me the opportunity to read more short stories and more science fiction, two things I feel I don’t do often enough. However, Short Story Sunday is the home of all short stories and I’m pleased to say that we’re diving head first into the fantasy genre. I’ve reviewed some of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan the Barbarian stories here too, but that’s just not enough! Short Story Sunday needs more fantasy and can’t limit itself to muscular barbarians and squishy monsters. There is plenty of room for other fantasy stories such as those of politically minded Hobbits and Travelling Littles.

“Senator Bilbo” by Andy Duncan
Read in Year’s Best Fantasy 2 (2002), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (uncredited)
Originally published in Starlight 3 (2001), edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

This story is based on a simple idea. What if the infamous white supremacist senator Theodore G. Bilbo was a descendant of Bilbo Baggins? Well, we’d end up with a filibustering, speech spewing, and racist hobbit. There isn’t much more to this story than playing out that idea, but it’s very well done and quite enjoyable.