Welcome to Quick Bites, my tiny thoughts on shorter content. This time I have thoughts on several short stories and a short non-fiction piece. If something interests you, take a peek.
Abyss & Apex: Tumbling Up by Kate MacLeod
Diplomacy with alien creatures.
While well-written and a surprisingly intriguing setting considering the length, I ultimately did not connect with the story. For a story that brings up themes of communication and motherhood, the ultimate moral seems to be mothers won’t understand so rebel with conservation themes sprinkled in. Not that these things aren’t hinted at but I guess I was expecting a more complex ending tying the conflicting themes together. I wonder what would happen if the viewpoint characters were mothers instead of daughters. For a story about motherhood, the themes felt distant as the childless protagonist can’t relate. Or if the story focused on Fumahadi and Naledi, the conflicted mother and daughter relationship and their differing ideas of diplomacy. While there are many interesting tidbits, the conclusion did not satisfy me.
Tor.com: The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin
Tor’s Synopsis: In this standalone short story by N. K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season, the winner of this year’s Hugo Award for Best Novel, New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife… and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song.
I struggle with a lot of contemporary/urban fantasy and this really hit home why (though in the opposite way). This feels like New York. There are a ton of little references that bring this story to life. Most stories I pick up feel like they can be set anywhere, which I feel like is a bit of a disservice to cities. They should be settings with a lot of character since most cities have their own flavor. Shoot even little districts in cities can have a distinct flavor. Though the point of this story is understanding the ‘city’s song’.
I also really love the protagonist. A couch-surfing, black queer youth. The sort of thing that is quite common in cities, but hard to find in stories without weird baggage.
Clarkesworld: The Facecrafter by ANNA WU, translated by EMILY JIN
The nuclear post-apocalypse, virtual reality and Chinese mythology combine.
I liked this story, it reminded me of old 90s, early 2000s anime exploring virtual reality/internet. Except this is a touch more mature and steeped in Chinese mythology. I also appreciate that this is a brother/sister story, I don’t get to read too many of these. Unfortunately there’s not much I can go into without spoiling the story.
There is also an audio version of this if you prefer (located under the title).
Mary and the Monster: The Life of Mary Godwin Shelley by CARRIE SESSAREGO
I’m not really one for classical literature but Frankenstein is one of the few I do like. Its strange that even though I read it, I never really looked into Mary Shelley’s background. On the other hand I think I felt a lot of her feelings through her story alone. I could relate to the dysfunctional relationship between Frankenstein and the creation he couldn’t decide if he wanted or not. I’m grateful to have read this, it put some things into perspective for me and gave me a greater appreciation of the work.
I hope you enjoyed this Quick Bite. Thank you for reading!
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