Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Strange Horizons: August 20 - September 10, 2007

August 20: Little Ambushes, by Joanne Merriam. A woman takes in an alien to her home in some sort of cultural exchange program even though the aliens do not seem interested in cultural exchange. Little Ambushes is a sweet little story laced with sadness. Even though the story takes place entirely in Sarah's house there is discussion and description of aspects of the alien culture which leads to this gem of a sentence:
She laid on her bed—on her and Mark's bed—and watched the late afternoon light move across her ceiling, and thought about a world where laughter sounded like war.
It is the ending of the sentence that hits the sorrow of the scene.

August 27: Practicing My Sad Face, by Marc Shultz. Billy is a trauma victim. He remembers nothing, but he has been given experimental implants for his vision and memory, sort of like the technology we read about in other stories where identities and history show up on a screen before his eyes. Conceptually the story is interesting enough, but it fails to engage the reader at any point. I think it's supposed to be brutally sad, but it isn't. Not emotionally, anyway.

As I would have told the President myself if his handlers had let me get through, you can't make someone with a damaged hippocampus good as new by networking his eyes and ears to a prosthetic memory database, no matter how smart the search algorithms are. The problem goes deeper than that. Billy is trapped within the temporal bounds of short-term memory. He has no self.

September 3: All Kinds of Reasons, by Katherine Maclaine. I had an uncomfortable sick feeling in my chest through most of the story. That feeling started when the story did and didn't stop until the story ended...because of the possibility of what Maclaine was going to introduce, what she was going to offer the reader. The fact that Maclaine didn't go as far as I had feared did not matter because there was no pleasure in the reading.
The baby had large eyes that tilted slightly upwards, a snub nose, fleshy cheeks, and an upper lip that split straight up to the nostrils. Its fingers were melded or missing entirely—lobster claws. The legs, attached together from hips to ankles, made a mermaid tail, and it had the beginnings of short, pointed teeth.

It looked like a fucking monster.

September 10: In Stone, by Helen Keeble. I’m confused. That’s all.

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