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: Vicious mermaids and cross-dressing knights

Because it had to go back to the library, I read Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant in about two days. It was fine! I wanted more from the story, though. “A schlocky faux-cumentary company discovers that mermaids are real, and they’re territorial predators” is a good start, but as it doesn’t go much beyond that, it could’ve been a short story.

The other book I read is the one that has provoked the most interaction I’ve ever experienced on Goodreads. Did you know apparently every girl but me read the Alanna books when they were younger? I didn’t! I was kind of aware of Tamora Pierce but never ever read a word by her. Until now!

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

My rating: 🐎🐎🐎🐎 (4/5 valiant steeds)

In an adult book, the fact that this is courtly-medievalish-knights-and-magic-and-nefarious-dukes would make me drop it like it was a poisonous damn snake, but in this case? *shrug* Alanna is fun!

Read the whole review

To semi-restate my review, if I hadn’t had my inner twelve-year-old come out to read this, I would have been less patient with a few things about it. But it’s not for adults with adult perspectives! It’s not for a grown up who’s seen too many Perfectly Talented Heroes! It’s for a kid, who wants to read about girls being amazing. Plus Alanna isn’t Perfectly Talented. She has that Gift, but otherwise she works hard at all her skills, and is, apparently, constantly exhausted from working so hard. (On the other hand, nearly everyone adores her, which is perhaps the least believable thing from an adult perspective. But that’s okay!)

Anyway, the rest of the Alanna books are sure to appear on my Kindle in the near future.

Short Things

The Hogwarts founders from Andrea Castagno’s paintings of various people. – deviantArt user kala-way

Sorting Hogwarts: Charting a Deeper Meaning to the Four Houses – A while back Twitter friend @keepthemuse apparently wrote a long, thoughtful piece about a better sorting guideline for Hogwarts and it is really great. Doing the Lord’s work, he is.

Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo in Uncanny Magazine – Lovely and short, with a great soft ending. I really liked the use of masks, and the emotion that comes through.

Okay, friends, it’s a gloomy rainy day and my cat is sleeping on my bed, so I’m out.

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.