#DealMeIn2019 Week 10 ~ “Evil Opposite”

DealMeIn

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

“Evil Opposite” by Naomi Kritzer

Card picked: 6
Found at: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September-October 2017

There is a theory that each choice, each chance, each throw of a die creates a separate parallel universe; that there are infinite universes layered like filo dough in baklava or stacked like an unsteady pile of papers on a desk.

The Story
The “what if” of this story is, what if you could peek at your other layers. Our unnamed narrator, a handy physics post-grad, builds a device posited by his graduate advisor and is able to see other versions of himself in those other universes. In some he’s still a Ph.D. student studying physics, or mathematics, or political science, or business, or law. In some he’s single, in some he’s still with his ex-fiance, in some he’s living in a different state as a new father. In some, he’s murdered his annoying Ph.D. program nemesis Shane…

Playing the alternate lives game is always fun. What if I had pursued an MFA instead of diving into writing? What if I had taken that anatomy class instead of physiology and never met Eric? What is I took the ROTC scholarship and ended up at Creighton? Would I have ended up at as a Bluejays fan??? Okay, maybe the alternate lives game isn’t always fun.

The Author
This is the second story I’ve read by Naomi Kritzer (I believe). The first was the excellent Hugo award-winning “Cat Pictures Please”. I really enjoy her style and I should really read more of her work.

#DealMeIn2019, Week 8 ~ “On Highway 18”

DealMeIn

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

“On Highway 18” by Rebecca Campbell

Card picked: 10
Found at: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September-October 2017

The kids in the 7-Eleven parking lot knew everything that happened from one ens of the highway to the other. They knew, for example, about the last girl who’d been found—the one in the ditch beside the Petro-Can.

“Be careful, man,” he said, a kid Petra had known in the tenth grade, “you know how ghosts like highways. Watch out for hitchhikers.”

The Story
Maybe ghosts, maybe time slipping visitors from the future. Both of those concepts are too big, too loud for this story. Campbell captures the quiet smallness of summer for a couple of 16 year-old best friends in the early 90s: the dangers of hitchhiking, the changing social statuses that happen when friends get boyfriends and jobs, the inevitable changes that will occur post high school. But who are the girls who hitchhike on the 18 and why does one look so much like Petra’s friend, Jen?

Trivia
Highway 18 of the story refers to BC-18, a route on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Deal Me In, Week 6 ~ “Marley and Marley”

DealMeIn

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

“Marley and Marley” by J. R. Dawson

Card picked: 7
Found at: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November-December 2017

Before she showed up, she was preceded by this man in a pinstriped suit. A harbinger. He sat me down in his sterile office and said, “Time Law is no joking matter.”

Time travel is a tricky thing to handle. Why bringing Old Marley from the future is easier than putting Little Marley in foster care, I don’t know. It ends up being a sort of scientific MacGuffin that gives characters in science fiction stories something to do. That isn’t to say that “Marley and Marley” doesn’t have its clever points or isn’t well written. By the end, I wondered if the “time cops” knew anything about the future at all. (And the title: a play on Marley and Me?)

Author trivia: J. R. Dawson lives in Omaha, my hometown.

Deal Me In, Week 5 ~ “Big Girl”

DealMeIn

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

“Big Girl” by Meg Elison

Card picked: 5
Found at: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November-December 2017

The girl woke up with a sore neck and three seagulls perched on her eyelashes.

Meg Elison tells this tale mostly from the point of view of the social media accounts and news outlets covering the appearance of a naked 350ft girl in San Francisco Bay. It is discovered that she is 15 year-old Bianca Martinez, but she’s known as #baybe. This story made me queasy, which I’m sure is Elison’s intent. So easily, the world sees Bianca as a object rather than a person—because of her size, because she’s become a celebrity. It makes me want to never read celebrity news/gossip ever again.

#DealMeIn2019, Week 3 ~ “With the Best of Intentions”

“With the Best of Intentions” by Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy

Card Picked: Ace♥️
From: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July-August 2017

People like to think in terms of cause and effect. We want things to be simple: You do X and you get Y.

But then it comes to natural systems, it’s just not that simple. You do X and you get a cascading alphabet of effects. And some of those double back to become new causes.

I ended up switching out the story I originally had planned for the Ace of Hearts; I realized I had already read it. When setting up my Deal Me In list, I slotted in the short stories from my remaining unread issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, but I’d forgotten that I’d already read a few from the July/August 2017 issue. So, instead, I decided to read the science essay from that issue.

“With the Best of Intentions” is about bees. Honeybees and bumblebees mostly. We tend to value the honeybee because, well, honey, but over look the contributions to pollination by the fuzzy, buzzy bumblebee. If we project a future with less pollinator bees, we could have less fruits like apples, but also less birds who eat fruits like apples, and less small predators who eat birds, etc.

I don’t mean to be a denier of these possible outcomes, but I am also an inherent optimist. While our authors acknowledge that we have problems predicting outcomes, they stick to dire consequences. I take a more Ian Malcolm approach:

Jurassic Park Life Finds A Way GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#DealMeIn2018, Week 52 ~ “Shape Without Form, Shade Without Color”

“Shape Without Form, Shade Without Color” by Sunny Moraine

Card Selected: 10♠️
From: Tor.com

The window is slightly open, admitting the cold. I hear the starlings whisper. Don’t you love us? Don’t you want us anymore?

The blurb of this story is “Haunted by starlings in the dark, a young woman spirals into an altered state of consciousness.” And I wonder if “altered state of consciousness” is our twenty-first century way of saying “madness.” Both of these terms are void of diagnosis, though I suppose that the more modern term has less baggage and prejudice associated with it. In a 19th century Gothic sense though, this young woman spirals into madness, which has a certain amount of romance. In 20th century parlance, I suppose one might say “psychotic break.”

It’s a beautifully written piece and, once again, a story that would probably provide more rewards with a second or third reading. This feels to me very much like a fall or winter story. It was a nice way to finish up Deal Me In for 2018.

#DealMeIn2018, Week 51 ~ “Uncle Abraham’s Romance”

“Uncle Abraham’s Romance” by Edith Nesbit

Card Picked: 2♣️ – WILD card
Found at: Grim Tales @ ProjectGutenberg

“There’s nothing to tell,” he said. “I think it was fancy, mostly, and folly; but it’s the realest thing in my long life, my dear.”

Since this was a WILD card, I figured I’d continue with my reading of Edith Nesbit’s Grim Tales.

Our narrator, age eighteen, sits at her uncle’s knee and waits for him to tell her about his one single romance. While he never married, he often sits and gazes at the miniature of a beautiful woman. Despite what he says, she knows there’s a story there.

Finally, he tells her of a lovely young woman that he used to speak to over the churchyard wall, who didn’t care about his lame leg. Of course, this being a Edith Nesbit story with a churchyard and a mysterious portrait, we can assume that the woman isn’t exactly what she seems (well, if you assumed she was just a lovely, understanding you woman in the first place).

Predictable, but in a satisfying way