“Freedom is Space for the Spirit” by Glen Hirshberg
Card picked: 10♦
Found at: Tor
Sometimes, I come across works by my favorite authors and, instead of reading them immediately, I squirrel them away for some later date. This explains a goodly portion of my unread library. I’ve had this story in reserve since 2016 and a good thing too. Glen Hirshberg’s writing pace is lagging behind my ability to consume his works.
From Tor’s website:
“Freedom is Space for the Spirit” by Glen Hirshberg is a fantasy about a middle-aged German, drawn back to Russia by a mysterious invitation from a friend he knew during the wild, exuberant period in the midst of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival in St. Petersburg, he begins to see bears, wandering and seemingly lost.
I’m most appreciative of Hirshberg’s horror stories and I was concerned that this would be very different than the usual. It’s set in Russia, in St. Petersburg. It’s also on the fantasy end of things. Or maybe it’s what’s considered magical realism. But, then, isn’t magical realism just a dark hop-skip away from supernatural horror?
There is always desolation in Hirshberg’s stories and a felling about the past that isn’t quite nostalgia. In these respects, “Freedom” is still so much a Hirshberg story, but one that is a double mystery too. There is a lot to unpack on an allegorical level too, especially the concept of the resurrected past never quite working out. That’s not even taking into account Russia’s political past and present. But for me, this is a good unsettling fantasy and that’s how I enjoyed it this time I read it. Next time (and there will be a next time), who knows?
How’s It Going?
It’s going pretty well.
All the stories for Our Past in the Uncanny Valley are formatted. The introductory matter is drafted. Acknowledgements are done.
- Front matter
- Additional back matter
- Table of contents
- Introductions need to be polished and proofed.
- Ticky-tack pass on the story formatting.
- Finalize the cover.
That’s still quite a list, but I have decided on a release date: July 2nd. That’s the year anniversary of the WesterCon panel that inspired the anthology.
About This WIP
Our Past in the Uncanny Valley is a collection of automaton stories from 1810-1910. From the E. T. A. Hoffmann’s nightmarish Olimpia to the enigma of the mechanical chess-playing Turk to the plethora of humorous later-century robot maids, these stories show that our current fears about artificial intelligences aren’t new at all.
- The Hermit by Monica Friedman – Magical realism? Modern southwestern fairy tale? Whatever you might want to call it, I’m digging it.
- The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle – Thus far, the best of the longer Holmes stories.
- And “Freedom is Space for the Spirit” by Glen Hirshberg for Deal Me In, which I’m pretty excited about.
On opposite ends of the spectrum: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Hap and Leonard.
Kimmy Schmidt is unrelentingly fast-paced (it’s a comedy after all) and optimistic. Hap and Leonard is as slowly plotted as a country-western song. Both have their pluses and minuses.
Just putting along really.
- There are a few things that are causing me some stress, but there will be inevitable resolutions, so I really shouldn’t worry too hard.
- I need to do a few things around my internet world to make sure we have our GDPR bases covered.
- Summer league has started up; I like my team.
- I’m planning a writing update for Wednesday, which will further answer “What *am* I doing?”
What Was I Doing?
A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha by David L. Bristow
Omaha, Nebraska, is a laid-back city in America’s heartland. In the nineteenth century, however, it had a very different reputation. Omaha grew from a speculative scheme in 1854 to a booming city. Along the way there were scores of great stories.
“It requires but little if any, stretch of the imagination to regard Omaha as a cesspool of iniquity, for it is given up to lawlessness and is overrun with a horde of fugitives from justice and dangerous men of all kinds who carry things with a high hand and a loose rein. . . . If you want to find a rogue’s rookery, go to Omaha.”—Kansas City newspaper. (via Goodreads)
Why was I interested in this book?
Omaha! It’s my hometown. Sadly, when I lived there I was much less interested in its history. History is wasted on the young.
David Bristow does a really good job making this book light enough to be popular nonfiction, but also with some historical “crunch” to it. All the stories are well-cited as well as well-written.
There is also a good variation in tales. Omaha began its life with the reputation of being a “wide open” city. Crime of all sorts was rampant. (It could be argued that crime boss Tom Dennison, not covered in this book since he didn’t come into power until post-1900, was at least an organizing influence.) But along with tales of gambling, prostitution, and sadly, a lynching, there are stories of newspaper editor dust-ups, hot air balloon hijinx, the other White City, and (of course) weather.
While the book doesn’t go into a extreme detail, the many first-person accounts quoted give a good idea of what it was like to live in Omaha in the late 19th century.
Publishing info, my copy: trade paperback, Caxton Press, 2000
Acquired: Amazon, March 11, 2013
Genre: nonfiction, history
This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:
- Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
- Order on ascending date added.
- Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
- Read the synopses of the books.
- Decide: keep it or should it go?
I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.
|The Ruins by Scott B. Smith
If Goodreads allowed me to search my lists by genre (or most commonly tagged genre, or whatever), I probably would have already read this book for Spring into Horror, R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, or one of my other favorite horror readathons. KEEP.
|Doctor Who: Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell
Is it sacrilege to say that I’m a bit off Doctor Who? Even when it’s Ten and Donna? GO.
|Victorian Magic by Geoffrey Frederick Lamb
Considering that this book is now in the land of over-priced textbooks, I should dump it on principle. But, no. Victorian magic is one of my favorite topics. KEEP.
|The Asylum by John Harwood
I’ll be honest, I’ve tried to get into this book a few times and it’s never worked out despite liking some of Harwood’s other works. Time to GO.
|The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
This is on my TBR because I wanted to learn more about the Mercury Seven. And I still do! KEEP.
Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?
“Aloha Oe” by Jack London
Card picked: J♣ – Jack of Spades for Jack London, hadn’t realized I’d done that when assigning stories to cards.
Found at: AmericanLiterature.com
At the dock in Honolulu, a massive crowd is gathered to bit farewell to the Senatorial junketing party. Among those leaving are Senator Jeremy Sambrooke and his lovely daughter Dorothy. Among those staying is Stephen Knight. While the senators had been wowed by sugar cane and coffee barons, Knight had shown off the rougher side of Hawaii. In particular, he shown Dorothy volcanoes and taught her how to surf. And until this moment of parting, with “Aloha Oe” being sung to them, Dorothy had only saw Knight as a playfellow. In this moment under his gaze, she’s suddenly aware of womanly feelings for him.
Which is a little eye-rollingly cringe-worthy. Numerous times, we’re told of Dorothy’s “ripening,” which is at least balanced by how masculinly masculine Knight is. Though I am a child of the late 20th century, I’m kind of surprised that Dorothy, at age fifteen, is just now noticing boys/men and is just now being noticed by them.
Alas, even if distance didn’t separate Dorothy and Stephen after her departure, the fact that he’s hapa-haole, or of mixed heritage, would prevent him from being marriageable. Hapa-haole also can refer to music that is Hawaiian in tune, but with English lyrics. London concludes the story with the only time he includes English lyrics in the song:
Aloha oe, Aloha oe, e ke onaona no ho ika lipo,
A fond embrace, ahoi ae au, until we meet again.
I haven’t read much London. Is he better with nature than with people?