Deal Me In, Week 3 ~ “How to Sync Your Spouse”

DealMeIn

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“How to Sync Your Spouse” by Russell Nichols

Card picked: 6
Found at: Fireside Fiction

The Story

When Menzi saw Lindiwe, his heart skipped a beat.

When Lindiwe saw Menzi, her heart froze.

And the two of them have been out of sync ever since, with his clockwork heart now a beat early and hers now a beat late.

And, while this sounds romantic, it leads to many relationship problems for the couple especially when it comes to…ahem…ScrewTime. How does one sync her spouse? You go to a watchman, of course. The watchman, though, has bad news: the couple’s irregularity is also the basis of their love. And, in spec fic fashion, Nichols offers a nice flash fiction analogy for many long-time relationships.

The Author
Russell Nichols is a journalist, playwright, screenwriter, and short story and poetry writer. All the writing things are his. More about his work can be found at his web page.

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Deal Me In, Week 2 ~ “The Wrong Foot”

DealMeIn

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Wrong Foot” by Stephanie Burgis

Card picked: Q
Found at: Daily Science Fiction

The Story

Needless to say, I didn’t want to try on the slipper in the first place.

Have you ever thought about the absurdity of Cinderella and the whole “marry the girl who can wear the glass slipper” thing? I mean, even though Payless didn’t exist in 1600s Italy, foot size isn’t exactly the same as fingerprints…or her face. (Although now I want to write a Cinderella variation in which the Prince is face blind…) What kind of cobbler makes glass slippers anyway? And if you take away the interference of fairy godmothers, why was Cinderella so eager to get away from the prince by midnight?

Sophia is a modern girl. She likes to read. She has her own inheritance coming to her. But her mother think she needs a husband and, if her small feet happen to fit in the glass slipper, why shouldn’t that husband be the Prince? Not helping matters is the Prince’s secretary whose hazel eyes make Sophia feel distinctly unscholarly.

This story is a clever and sweet, a nice twist on the fairy tale. I’m two for two on stories this year.

The Author
I don’t believe I’ve read anything by American/British writer Stephanie Burgis in the past. Info about her other stories, long and short, can be found at her website.

Deal Me In, Week 1 ~ “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”

DealMeIn

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“A Dead Djinn in Cairo” by P. Djeli Clark

Card picked: 5
Found at: Tor.com

The Story
A bit of a longer story for my first of the year, but one I was especially looking forward to when I put my list together. Why? Djinn. They are underused in my opinion and I’m always interested in what different authors do with them.

Clark puts one in the center of a mystery…as the corpse.

Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, stood gazing through a pair of spectral goggles at the body slumped atop the mammoth divan.

A djinn.

In this history, the border between our world and a world of the supernatural has been breached. There are ghuls, “angels,” and, of course, the djinn who have brought their brand of steampunk-ish technology to the era. This is still Victorian/Edwardian Egypt, though. While the djinn have helped remove the English from Egypt, Fatma, a woman, is still unique in her position as an inspector. On the surface, the death of the djinn seems to be a strange suicide. With unknown runes left inscribed around the body and an “angel’s tongue” found at the scene, Fatma suspects more but her theories are dismissed.

The investigation takes a world-endangering turn, which felt a little abrupt. The world that Clark created for this story is a lot of fun and it was surprising that Fatma and the Ministry don’t currently live on in other works.

The Author
P. Djeli Clark is an Afro-Caribbean-American writer of speculative fiction. He can be found online at The Musings of a Disgruntled Haradrim and on Twitter.

Deal Me In, Week 51 ~ “Afternoon in Linen”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Afternoon in Linen” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: 7
From: The Lottery, and other stories

The Story
I’m finishing up the year with a couple Shirley Jackson stories. This is the first of two remaining hearts in my Deal Me In deck.

(Psst — Signup for Deal Me In 2018 is open! All you need is a deck of cards and 52 short stories. This is a challenge so easy and wonderful that I’ve managed to complete it (knock on wood) four years in a row!)

This is another story, and Shirley Jackson does them so well, about the disconnect between adults and children. Mrs. Kator and her son Howard are visiting Mrs. Lennon and her granddaughter Harriet. The story begins with Howard playing piano, slowly and carefully. He’s a good student according to Mrs. Kator, though he doesn’t like to practice and she feels he isn’t getting much out of it. Mrs. Lennon counters that Harriet seems to be naturally inclined toward music and makes up her own tunes. Mrs. Lennon is eager to have Harriet play. Harriet, though, has decided she isn’t going to. Worse, the adults then request that she recite some of the poetry that she’s written, a concept that Howard seems to find funny. “He’ll tell all the kids on the block,” Harriet keeps thinking as she denies writing any poetry at all. And often, for a kid, getting in trouble with adults is better than being strange to your peers…

 

Deal Me In, Week 50 ~ “Gentlemen”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Gentlemen” by Craig Spector and John Skipp

Card picked: 10
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer

The Story
Generally, this anthology has been a little light on stories that centered on architecture—actual buildings. Maybe I had an out-sized expectation of how the hauntings would play out; I often fall victim to my own disappointment. “Gentlemen,” though, does not disappoint. It’s haunted place: a dive bar bathroom. Not only do Spector and Skipp take advantage of the low hanging gross-out fruits, but provide a truly eerie setting.

Alas, the story was a bit lacking. David, our hapless protagonist, is in love with LeeAnn, but is firmly in the friend zone. This story was written in 1989 before the term “friend zone” was much of a thing. LeeAnn calls on David whenever her romantic relationships go south. And on this particular night, she calls David to a bar filled with awful people and having a curious bathroom in the basement. While he seems to become infected or possessed by the forces that exist in the bathroom—that urge him to BE A MAN—there’s a social aspect that is lacking. David’s bad behavior can be explained away by whatever has taken over, which is actually not very scary.

Deal Me In, Week 48 ~ “Veil of Ignorance”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Veil of Ignorance” by David Barr Kirtley

Card picked: 6
From: Lightspeed, Issue 57, Feb. 2015

The Story
“Veil of Ignorance” is a science fiction short story based on John Rawls’ philosophical concept of the same name. Rawls’ theory is that (and forgive me, I know very little philosophy) we could live within a system of moral laws that an entire society could agree to if we could, in the process of creating such laws, divorce ourselves from who we are in that society and place ourselves in the shoes of any other member of that society. The example that is usually given: If half of the population is slave owners and half the population is slaves, and, if you personally are now randomly assigned a statues in this society (i.e. 50% chance of being a slave), wouldn’t you out-law slavery?

In this story, Kirtley plays out Rawls’ veil of ignorance concept among a group of friends using an alien drug. Brad, a member of the group, feels like his friends could treat each other better and gives them the drug without telling them what the effect will be. Soon, the group—Conrad (the playboy), Alyssa (his ditsy girlfriend), Dillon (the hanger-on), Kat (the weirdo), and Brad (the complainer)—are all sharing their thoughts and feelings. And it doesn’t go as well Brad hopes. Especially considering that Brad has forced them into the situation. Crime ensues. Maybe that’s what happens when thought experiments become real…

The Author
In addition to writing, David Barr Kirtley is the host of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Post Hodgepodge – November 2017

When I don’t have much to say, but still want to post…

NaNoWriMo 2017 ~ Week 3 Update

Went through my previous NaNoWriMo attempts and pieced together about 2/3 of a story. I’m working my way through rewriting, but it hasn’t been without a few snags. (Mainly due to my dithering.)

Review ~ Salvation on Sand Mountain

Cover via Goodreads

Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington

For New York Times reporter Dennis Covington, what began as a journalistic assignment—covering the trial of an Alabama pastor convicted of attempting to murder his wife with poisonous snakes—would evolve into a headlong plunge into a bizarre, mysterious, and ultimately irresistible world of unshakable faith: the world of holiness snake handling. Set in the heart of Appalachia, Salvation on Sand Mountain is Covington’s unsurpassed and chillingly captivating exploration of the nature, power, and extremity of faith—an exploration that gradually turns inward, until Covington finds himself taking up the snakes. (via Goodreads)

This book was a random find from my neighborhood’s free little library. “Faith-based snake handling,” I thought. “There’s a topic I never knew I wanted to know about.” Unfortunately, though, Salvation on Snake Mountain has an identity crisis, one that Covington admits to in the 15th anniversary edition’s Afterword. What started out as a news item morphed into something personal for the author, but Covington tries to straddle the line between journalism and memoir, not committing to one or the other. I think that’s to the book’s detriment. Still, an interesting book about something I only knew about as a stereotype.

Publishing info, my copy: trade paperback, Da Capo Press, 1994 (2009)
Acquired: Neighborhood Free Little Library, 2/21/17
Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Deal Me In, Week 47

(What’s Deal Me In?)

“The Music of the Yellow Brass” by  Charles Beaumont

Card picked: 2 – Deuces are WILD!

Since I’m setting up my list for next year’s Deal Me In, I had no “loose” stories. Instead, through a convoluted wandering around the internet, I landed on an audio collection of Charles Beaumont’s stories and listened to the first one. I was vaguely familiar with Beaumont’s name. Turns out, he’s a golden age speculative fiction author, somewhat renowned for his work on The Twilight Zone TV show. And I ended up listening to a story with absolutely no speculative fiction aspects what-so-ever.

Jaunito is a skinny young man, a torero in training, who is miraculously given the chance at a fight with lots of money on the line for him and his mentor Enrique. It is all too good to be true. Sometimes, it’s not just the bull’s blood that the crowd wants to see.

I enjoyed Beaumont’s writing, providing a slice of bull-fighting life.