Tag Archives: shortstory

Review: Shorts and Snippets

 

Aether by PandaFried

Aether coverOn a dull little planet called Earth, seventeen Winston Privet dreams of another life of magic and adventure, in comparison to which his own mundane existence feels pointless, wrong and incomplete. That reality, though, is about to change.

First, an in-progress one, so it fits with ‘snippets’ – a mix of a fairy story and Harry Potter with some added bite! I’m really enjoying this one and looking forward to seeing where it goes…

Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Prime Meridian coverAmelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life.

It awaits her.

This is a mix of a personal story and snippets of film description; it mixes Amelia’s day-to-day life with the heroine’s exploits. But Amelia’s day-to-day life seems trapped in an endless cycle – where once she wanted to go to Mars as a colonist, she had to give up her studies to care for her mother, and now floats from cafe to cafe earning tiny amounts as a befriender or blood donor. Even an ex coming back into her life isn’t much of a release – but I loved how all the threads came together.

It’s a simple story, a gentle story, but it’s got teeth underneath: it’s a story about hopelessness and the endless cycle of frustration, but there’s some lovely moments of hope – and the film wound through gives it a silver-screen glow.

Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho

Spirits abroad cover

“If you live near the jungle, you will realize that what is real and what is not real is not always clear. In the forest there is not a big gap between the two.”

A Datin recalls her romance with an orang bunian. A teenage pontianak struggles to balance homework, bossy aunties, first love, and eating people. An earth spirit gets entangled in protracted negotiations with an annoying landlord, and Chang E spins off into outer space, the ultimate metaphor for the Chinese diaspora.

This is a mix of 15 shorts, ranging across fantasy to horror. My absolute favourite was The House Of Aunts, a romance about a teenager meeting their crush while also being a vampire and dealing with an entire houseful of aunties! I also adored Liyana;  it’s a sweet and gentle story with a bucketful of tears underneath. The characters were complex and brilliant in The Mystery of the Suet Swain, and Prudence & the Dragon is also great fun and definitely about the two figures at the centre of the story – even if it doesn’t exactly turn out how one of them had planned!

Throughout the collection, I loved the extra winding details, the way the author tells the stories; One-Day TravelCard to Fairyland is a good example, and Lion Bows is also very atmospheric; I loved the characters and the concept of a lion eating ghosts – until they find one that maybe they don’t want to eat! Balik Kampung is also a heart-tugging and gentle story about a shade returning to the world for the Festival and trying to get back to her husband, but remembering what happened to her along the way.

While all of the stories are easy to read and interesting, some needed extra details – but then that’s part of the joy of coming from a Western background to a different tradition – as the author notes, everyone knows the story of Hang Tuah and Chang E! It’s a nicely varied collection, too; every story has a heart-tug, but every one handles it in a different way.

Overall, a lovely collection; varied and interesting and haunting.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Lady Astronaut coverThirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.

A short novelette based after the end of The Calculating Stars – sweet, sad, and hopeful! You don’t need to have read The Calculating Stars (I’ll do a review soon!), but it’s definitely more poignant if you have. Worth a read.

GreenSky Short Story: On The Clockwork Trail

steampunk universe coverI have another GreenSky short story available, in the Steampunk Universe anthology! It’s currently available on Kindle and will shortly be available in hard copy too.

(Also, the cover is gorgeous!)

Have an extract of the beginning…

It was the Glider that had distracted her. Usually, Kita’s eyes would be fixed on the trail; on the lookout for rocks, loose patches of sand, scree, anything that might be obstructing the trail. Even with the clockwork engine powering the wagons, they couldn’t get over every obstacle and it was easy to run the wheels into loose sand or a too-large rock. She was careful. She had to be careful.

But the Glider was drifting overhead, up in the endless green sky. There were one or two around routinely now; they were part of the mapping teams out of Huish, and could often be seen floating one way or another across the desert. She’d been lucky enough to see one doing some stunts a few weeks back, diving and whirling. The caravan convoy had stopped just to watch, all the drivers gasping as it shot down towards the desert floor and somehow missed the rocks by a flicker, whirling and spinning back up into the sky. Kita wondered how the pilot could even think straight while doing that.

But this one was just floating, slowly moving. She could see the wide canvas of the wings with their wooden struts and taught ropes, the faint shadow of the pilot hanging under it. No need for an engine thanks to the Mages that flew them, so they made no sound…they were so beautiful.

And her wagon hit a pothole.

You can get it from Amazon on Kindle and shortly in hard copy.

A new story – and a discount!

I’ve got a new short story, The Lady’s Vision, in the summer Janus edition of Pantheon magazine. It’s a story in the No Man’s Land world around the Lady who guards the gateway between this world and the Other, and who doesn’t experience time in quite the same way we do…

While the online edition isn’t yet available, you can pick it up on Amazon, or get it at CreateSpace – and Pantheon have given a 15% off discount code for CS, too! Just add CFAK5JBZ to your CreateSpace order.

If you do need ebooks, this is a reminder that I have a GreenSky crime/murder story in You Left Your Biscuit Behind, and a Ghost story  – actually the story of how Luk first met Ghost! – in You Are Here.  I can highly recommend the rest of the stories in all three anthologies (I can’t review them, but I do read them) so if you’re stuck for things to read, there’s some recommendations!

Out now: You Left Your Biscuit Behind

I wrote a thing! (Another thing). If you want a GreenSky crime story, there’s a story in the anthology You Left Your Biscuit Behind, which is set in Reyan and involving biscuits. Of course, there’s also excellent stories from other people – I can’t review the anthology because I’m in it, but I love it.

Available from Amazon in ebook and paperback, and you can find links to independent bookstores on the Fox Spirits site. And if you want a review copy,  contact Aunty Fox!

‘Mage! You left your biscuits behind.’

‘Oh! Thank you, Theela.’

The voices came clearly through the low chatter of the shop patrons, sliding through the doorway into the warm bakery. It was a deep drawl with a slightly rough burr on the l and n, and a faintly northern twang. Rean let his hands automatically knead the dough and his mind wander. The accent was that of the Orei desert, so the speaker would have the darker skin, liquid eyes and sun-bleached hair of the day-dwellers, and the whip-thin body of the runners under the flowing Mage’s robes…

You left your biscuit behind front cover

New Anthology: You Are Here

you are here coverI’ve got a short story published! If you’ve met Ghost (which you have, briefly, in No Man’s Land snippets) and you want to see more of what she’s like….well, go and have a read of Mapping Out The Future. It also involves sarcastic protagonists, Gods, fairyland, thefts and a tattoo if any of those catch your interest!

This entire episode really started when I got a note from a certain Molly Parsons. I knew her by reputation – could be a model for the M&S catalogue as long as their criteria is “owns most of their clothing already”, do-good charity supporter, definitely-not-wicked sorceress, and soccer mom who drives a minivan and supports her kids with all the ferocity of a maternal dragon who’s just had her clutch threatened. That sort of reputation.

Information on the anthology can be found on the website, or you can get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US or Smashwords. It’s also on GoodReads if you want to add to your TBR pile!

There’s also a short from (amongst others) Lindsay Buroker in the collection, who is a rather awesome self-pub indie author. If you want a review copy, let me know and I can have an e-copy winging your way asap.

Maps define our lives as they define our world. 
 
What were once the priceless resources of a brave and lonely few as they set off into the unknown are now carried in the pockets of billions around the globe. But they were never merely lines on paper – while depicting our geography we infused them with our intelligence, our desires, our imagination, and our memories.
 
Yesterday, we mapped the world only after we discovered its secrets. Today we map the mind and the body and slowly unveil the universe before we set off into its infinite domains. Maps may have changed, but they are also changeless: they will always guide us.
 
This anthology charts eighteen worlds which are beautiful, frightening, alien, familiar – sometimes none of these, sometimes all. These stories cover every corner of the speculative map, featuring horror, science fiction, steampunk, high fantasy and more, in styles ranging from the literary and the lyrical to the pulpy and the thrilling.
 
Wherever you find yourself, there’s only one thing you can ever know for sure:  
YOU ARE HERE
 
Now go explore…