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Monday, November 17, 2014

"Honeybee" by Caroline M. Yoachim

Appeared in Flash Fiction Online. Story found here.

In the future, the honeybees are dying, dead. Even the clones cannot survive. The narrator has been traveling time, even stealing almonds and raspberries from places about to be destroyed so they can recreate recipes otherwise impossible.


The honeybees from the past are transported to the future. It's not explicitly stated, but perhaps the time-traveling--transporting the bees from past to the future--is responsible for their demise. Ah, the meddlesome-ness of human nature.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"The Vitruvian Farmer" by Marcelina Vizcarra

Appeared in Flash Fiction Online. Story found here.

Here's an author to keep your eyes on: Marcelina Vizcarra. She has a lovely style without being overwrought, a temptation a number of stylists fall prey to.
"A week before Christmas, my father left the milk jar for me to skim off the fog-colored fat. I found his boot prints in the ice kicked out of the goats’ water pan."
Understandably, the narrator's mother responds with venom to the supposedly time-travelling father:
"My mother accused him of staging a time-travel triumph to make us admire him while we grieved his absence, instead of doing what we should be doing–growing bitter."
The daughter, on the other hand, is fascinated by the objects that disappear, cataloging them, leaving questions behind to which the father leaves inscrutable replies.

Spoiler: The ending is equally nigh-inscrutable. A man almost matching her father's description appears. She steals the machine and disappears herself. What's inscrutable is her purpose: To find her father? This seems possible but less likely. Wouldn't she have questioned the man first? It seems the time-traveling for time-traveling's sake is her aim. But the ending is unclear. It would have been to have received more clues, more ideas about the relationship between daughter and mother, daughter and father, but perhaps that's the point: The concept itself has hijacked human relationships, but this does not show a negative fall-out (perhaps because we are in the daughter's POV, but the author could have offered glimmers that this was a negative act if she desired).

The title comes from the Roman architect, Vitruvius, who believed that architecture came from nature, specifically as drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. This indicates, perhaps the father's "perfect" search for time has sown seeds in his daughter.

Definitely check this one out.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"If You Want" by Luc Reid

Appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

In a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style, Reid presents a second-person character to whom a world of misery slays him: from parents to orientation, to zombies, cryogenics and identity theft. The character is given his choices... (sort of a spoiler)

...and chooses something different. This one becomes powerful on reflection. Sometimes we humans pressure one another into binary decisions when another choice may actually be better. One might say this is about religion, but I think a better fit might simply be the arts (or politics or humanity) in how sometimes we pigeon-hole and limit what and who people can choose. But we have the ability to choose, to write our own stories. Potent.

The character isn't quite as sympathetic, perhaps because we never fully inhabit the character. The issue is the mirror opposite to Steven W. Johnson's "Monoceros, Ptolemy Cluster".

"Monoceros, Ptolemy Cluster" by Steven W. Johnson

Appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

This one reminded me of Barry B. Longyear's Nebula-winning Enemy Mine, which I recently reread and enjoyed. The movie has also stood up rather well, considering the special effects technology has moved on. They remain a moving dissection of prejudice--the other just looks foreign.

Johnson's tale is simpler: A criminal tries to steal a maglev off a doomed, dying planet--no one has bothered to render aid in years--to a better world. The security officer tries to spare both parties but...

This tiny glimpse bites off a little antagonism with some camaraderie of Longyear's. However, it lacks a deeper resonance. Still, it has charm for so brief a work. The issue is the mirror opposite to Luc Reid's "If You Want".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Real Things We Learned as a Fake Band" by James Beamon

Appeared in Daily SF. Online here.

A human animatronic band is forced to play before an alien crowd.

It is a clever conceit with an apropos title. Hiding the alien crowd toward the middle limits idea development, however. Bringing it up front would have forced a deeper examination of the aliens and their victims. Still, it's worth a quick gander.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Whither Goes Literature? -- Literary News

The Economist discusses the future of the book, more encompassing (a warehouse of data) and bias but with less insight as Owens's assessment. Interesting format, though, to knock home a point.

Here are my thoughts that I haven't seen addressed. Note: I do not have definitive ideas but food for thought.  I am free to change my mind:

About 15 years ago, the big worry was about Borders/B&N killing independent bookstores, which was killing midlist writers. Writers were having careers destroyed by these bookstore giants. They'd order books and successively undercut. The tenor of the time was that the big-chain stores must be stopped. Support independents!* 
The dominance of the big-chain stores have disappeared due to Amazon, which you would think that would get the writers to applaud, but The Economist above cites it as an evil presence killing the midlist. Is that true? No real evidence bolsters this opinion.

Some claim the resurgence of independent bookstores. I'm not sure about this. They seem more like general purpose entertainments--books, music, games, movies. Maybe that's a good thing. 
Midlist writers can now publish their backlists. Everything. Some publishers may somehow still own all rights to books. A particular writer has books 20+ years old, and apparently cannot republish them, which seems bizarre to me. If a publisher hasn't done anything with a book for twenty years...? 
That said, some have legitimate beefs with Amazon. It'd be nice to read an honest assessment, an honest weighing of all evidence and perspectives. Is our society capable of unbiased assessment? 

* I blush that I haven't often done this (bookstores, that is. I've long supported small presses). But I haven't often had the money. I did what I could.  But the high cost of books raises another question:  Is literature a rich man's game? It seems more so now with literary magazines requiring fees to submit. Is literature excluding the voices of the less financially fortunate? Perhaps my perspective would alter were I running a literary magazine.