That’s “Somewhat Recently In Reading,” in case it wasn’t obvious.
Over the past mumble mumble weeks I’ve been working through The Eerie Silence, a book about SETI and aliens and all this thinking behind it, in a very readable sort of way. I may be taking casual notes. I’ve never been a good student. But it takes me time to get through non-fiction so I’ve been working on it for a while. (Not as long as the book on Hatshepsut, at least) I keep thinking about alien intelligence, and hope for someone to talk to out in space, and the vast impossibility of it all. And the way we tell stories about it, compulsively looking to the stars even as we throttle public works that would help us get there, and let space become privatized. Don’t let space become a privatized, capitalist space, friends! Space is for everyone! Socialism… IN SPACE.
I got off track. I’m pretty sure The Eerie Silence won’t reach the same conclusion as me. At least not explicitly.
These are some short stories I have recently dropped into my 4- or 5-Star folder on Instapaper.
Makeisha in Time by Rachael K. Jones in Crossed Genres, which I’m sad is on its last issue. This is an older story, though.
Makeisha has seen the sun rise over prehistoric shores, where the ocean writhed with soft, slimy things that bore the promise of dung beetles, Archeopteryx, and Edgar Allan Poe. She has seen the sun set upon long-forgotten empires. When Makeisha skims a map of the continents, she sees a fractured Pangaea. She never knows where she will jump next, or how long she will stay, but she is never afraid. Makeisha has been doing this all her life.
Paranoia by Shirley Jackson, in the New Yorker. (Did you know: Shirley Jackson is really good.)
A man in a light hat stopped next to Mr. Beresford on the sidewalk and for a minute, in the middle of the crowd, he stared at Mr. Beresford and Mr. Beresford stared at him as people sometimes do without caring particularly what they see. What Mr. Beresford saw was a thin face under the light hat, a small mustache, a coat collar turned up. Funny-looking guy, Mr. Beresford thought, lightly touching his clean-shaven lip. Perhaps the man thought Mr. Beresford’s almost unconscious gesture was offensive; at any rate he frowned and looked Mr. Beresford up and down before he turned away. Ugly customer, Mr. Beresford thought.
Here is My Thinking on a Situation That Affects Us All by Rahul Kanakia in Lightspeed Magazine
For years, human beings have stood underneath me and wondered where I came from and why I was here and whether I’d come to destroy you. Once, a girl and her father went right up to the top of the Empire State Building and he put her on his shoulders and she raised her arms and flapped them up and down as if she was privy to ancient wisdom. Then she said, “Helloooooooooooooo.”
I am vulnerable, as are most people, to children of any species. It is the disproportion of their bodies. The outsized heads and the too-long limbs. They remind me of when I was a newborn spaceship, all wriggly and yellow, sizzling at the bottom of the sea.
The Sisters’ Line by Liz Argall and Kenneth Schneyer, in Uncanny Magazine. I am not entirely sure what happened in this story but I really enjoyed it.
My nextdoor neighbor, Stacy, single mum, keeper of bees, works in robotics, thinks I’m crazy.
This train, this train I’m building is my sister’s train. I have to believe that all the pieces will fit. One day this train will be built, the magnets will be activated, and they will find the right tracks, the tracks that lead to my sister and the hidden country that has taken her.