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Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Briefs: Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Courting Disasters & Author's Choice

Courting Disasters and Other Strange Affinities 
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Wildside Press

Collection nominated for a Locus award.

"Compandroid" [Science Fiction Review; Second Science Fiction Megapack] is programmed to help a woman's son, but some of her wipe keeps peeking through.  Moving tale of how an almost-person keeps breaking through, forging her own personality despite wipes and changes people try to make to her.

"Little Once" [Weird Tales; Best of Weird Tales] was the little child of the mother protagonist.  She seems a bit off, trying to kill her child, trying to sell it.  When she does manage to pawn it off, we get the sense that maybe it isn't she that's off but the child itself, but then we learn the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

"Courting Disasters" [Weird Tales; Best of Weird Tales]  Simon has just got out of a car accident.  He lies in a hospital where his girlfriend, to whom he has not been kind.  He has visions of his accident where he sees it from three perspectives: his, his cars and the nearby tree, which not only keep him live, but also possess/haunt him.  He befriends a boy about to lose his life and confronts his old girlfriend.  This is a story of letting go (although Simon hasn't been kind, I'm not sure I understand his reasoning for behaving poorly to begin with nor his renewed spurning--except maybe he's afraid of repeating the past.  Nonetheless, the speculative play is fascinating with a fantastic final line that sums up the tale well:
"Underneath the bandages, he knew there were bones of wood, bones of steel, and safe within, a human heart."

Author’s Choice Monthly Issue 14: Legacy of Fire 
Nina Kiriki Hoffman

"Savage Breasts" [Pulphouse; Best of Pulphouse; Smart Dragons, Foolish Elves]  Formerly flat-chested, the narrator cuts out a comic-book ad from Charlotte Atlas and starts the exercises.  When her boyfriend tries to befriend them, they knock him out.  At work, her breasts interfere with typing, so her boss says it's okay not to work, but she looks pretty these days.  Her boss introduces her to Mr. Weaver, a big account for the company, but of course, when he tries something...  Humorous.  Probably a classic of its kind.

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