mostly short things (twir)


Mulaghesh from the Divine Cities trilogy, drawn by Chanh Quach, from a project in progress (!)

Finished City of Blades and I can’t talk about it. I want to talk about it. Read it so we can talk about it.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Love, Death — Caroline M. Yoachim in Lightspeed

I’m not entirely sure I understood this story (time travel is hard) but gosh it was wonderful. I really liked the structural things Caroline did, with rock/paper/scissors and the probabilities of survival. Following items as they appeared and disappeared was almost like watching a magic trick. I sort of want to draw out the loops of this story. I feel like it would be very pretty.

The Creeping Women — Christopher Barzak in Uncanny Magazine

Take The Yellow Wallpaper, twist it slightly, put it in another character’s head, extend. This story.

Part of me glares at this story as I am still trying to figure out how to retell The Yellow Wallpaper as interactive fiction. I’ve not gotten far.

not fiction

Inside the Eye: Nature’s Most Exquisite Creation — National Geographic

This is fascinating, and also made me remember how an anti-evolution speaker came to my youth group when I was a wee young lass and scoffed, “What good is half an eye? If evolution is true, at some point there was something less than an eye, and what good is that? That animal never could’ve survived.”

Well. Sir. I give you…actual facts.

He also had this whole thing about the exquisite planning involved in the Bombardier Beetle’s namesake move, as though there aren’t a hundred weird evolutionary mis-steps leftover in humans alone.

Is there something weird about our taste for apocalypse stories? — Frank Bures in Aeon

That feeling, that panic, comes from those moments when this fact is unavoidable. It comes from being unable to not see what we’ve become – a planet-changing superorganism. It is from the realisation that I am part of it.

TWIR: A warehouse of delights

I have much less willpower than I think I do.

Cover image for One Thousand and One NightsLast weekend was Harvard Bookstore’s Winter Warehouse sale, which means I went, which means whoops I bought two books. Two is displaying incredible self-restraint. I bought a beautiful book of a new translation of selected tales from One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al-Shaykh. The little image over there doesn’t do it justice; it is a hard cover, printed directly on the cover material in gold and a vivid red. I’ve never read any translation of it before, and this seemed like a really appealing start. I also grabbed a hard copy of Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman because for some reason I’m fond of that story.

What I did not pick up, but did torment a friend with for a few minutes: 101 Jokes from Outer Space. COME ON. “Why couldn’t the astronaut go to the moon? Because the moon was full!”

This is another thing I won’t talk about much because I plan on talking about it a bit later, perhaps: I finished The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. Please go read it.

Short things

They Are Living Their Own Myths – An interview with N. K. Jemisin at Electric Lit. I include this to note that in future Broken Earth books, we will get more Alabaster and I am a very happy reader to hear that. Although the statement “Stuff happens in book two.” has never been more thrilling or terrifying.

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World by Caroline M. Yoachim in Lightspeed. A journey through a long, long future, in several incarnations.

“Why are you tugging at the fabric of the universe, Prime?”

“My name is Mei.” Her voice was calm, but her mind was racing. The entity she spoke with was not attached to any physical form, nor could she have said where the words came from.

“You may call me Achron. This must be the first time we meet, for you.”

SRIR: It’s been a while, okay?

That’s “Somewhat Recently In Reading,” in case it wasn’t obvious.

Cover of The Eerie SilenceOver 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.

Short things

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.

Illustration of a spaceship floating above a planet
Art by Galen Dara

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.