#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.

Mini Reviews, Vol. 15

The Wedding Date cover The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

I don’t read a lot of romances, but I will probably have some romantic elements in the story I’m writing. Hence, I’m going to make an effort to read a few. I picked The Wedding Date because it was available and it sounded fun. And it was! Pro: Alexa’s growth as a character wasn’t directly linked to her relationship with Drew. Con: The ending was very tidy. But I’ll allow it.

The Cure for Dreaming cover The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

For some reason I thought this was book was going to be a heavier romance than it was. Due to its mesmerism plot, it had come up on my radar anyway. All in all, The Cure for Dreaming was okay. The protagonists were fairly young, which is a minus for me, but there were a few fairly scary bits.

Black Klansman cover Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth

And now for something completely different… I became interested in Ron Stallworth’s story due to the current coverage that the movie is getting. Stallworth was the first black police officer in Colorado Springs in 1972 and spearheaded an information gathering task force investigating the local Ku Klux Klan in 1978. In an era when background checks were not easily done, Stallworth placed three officers in the Klan and had personal contact over the phone with Klan members, including speaking with (and ending up as personal security for) David Duke. The writing is occasionally repetitive, but it’s a pretty amazing story.

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 2 ~ “A Dog’s Story”

“A Dog’s Story” by Gardner Dozois

Card Picked: 3♥
From: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July-August 2017

He was old, and his hip hurt him these days, and he had long ago quit bothering to bark at cars, but his still-restless spirit wouldn’t let him go to sleep without tasting the night…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a tale titled “A Dog’s Story” in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. There are some fantastical elements to it, but also a dollop of horror.

During the course of his night wanderings, Blackie finds the body of a murdered young woman in an alley. She reminds him of his special human Emily, who has been gone for several years. It’s implied that Emily has died; Blackie’s current human has been listless since Emily has been gone, but as a dog, Blackie only know that there is no more Emily. He decides that some justice should be done for this woman. His nose isn’t good enough to track the killer, nor would he be able to attack the man once he’s found, but Blackie is old enough to know other animals, like Talking Pete, a geriatric cat who knows many languages and can talk to the city’s rats. Through favors and deals, justice will be served.

This is a slip of a story, only just over 1500 words. (I love that F&SF includes word counts.) I can imagine that other writers would do more with the other animals, but indeed, this is a dog’s story and Blackie gets all the screen time.

Review ~ Harmony in Light

This book was provided to me for review consideration by WordFire Press & the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America via NetGalley.

Harmony in Light

Harmony in Light by Walter H. Hunt

In 1880s Paris, a doctor encounters a statuette that can drive men mad, secret societies, and a bridge between worlds that threatens disastrous consequences. Throughout, he is assisted and opposed by historical figures such as Charlie Dickens, the son living in his late father’s shadow, a young Sigmund Freud and the ghost of the Marquis de Sade.

Why was I interested in this book?

On NetGalley, I’ve been auto-approved by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This means I can read any of the titles they are currently promoting via NetGalley without going through any approval process. It’s a bit of perk. I hadn’t reviewed anything for them in a while and Harmony in Light sounded like it might be interesting, despite my general avoidance of fiction with historical celebrities.

What did I think?

I was a little dubious going into Harmony in Light. Using historical personages in fiction is hard to get right. Often, a reader has a notion of the personage’s character and that can clash with the author’s version of that character. In this case though, I have very little opinion of Charles Dickens, Jr., Sigmund Freud, the Marquis de Sade, or Guy de Maupassant (who is also there). I didn’t even know if Dickens had children. He did, in fact, have 10 children.

Actually, Hunt errs on the other end of using historical celebrities: I’m not sure that the names and reputations they brought to the story were necessary. But perhaps I’m missing some connections. There are a lot of characters and names to keep track of.

I did enjoy the central mystery of the plot. Dr. Sauvier is a good investigator and the skeptical foil to the statuette’s weirdness and the societies of mesmerists looking to control it. Occasionally, the narrative felt a little padded out, but Hunt’s occult Paris is a diverting enough setting. I also rather liked the ending. Hunt has written some alternate history in the past, but he side-steps messing with future history here.

Other Info

Published: Nov. 26, 2018 by WordFire Press
My copy: PDF/Kindle ARC

Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek”

DealMeIn

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

“The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery” by Catherynne M. Valente

Card picked: 4
Found at: Beneath Ceaseless Skies

And thus was I left, Perpetua alone and loudly complaining, in the quiet dark of my father’s glassworks, with no one willing to buy from my delicate and feminine hand, no matter how fine the goblet on the end of that long iron punty.

The solution seemed to me obvious. Henceforward, quite simply, I should never be a girl again.

I went into this story thinking that Perpetua hiding her gender would be the linchpin secret of this story. Not so. Perpetua, left with her father’s glassblowing tools after her two older brother’s snatch up the riches and land that their father left them, becomes a very successful businessman in London. But it isn’t until after her brother sends a young woman in need of glass eyes to her that Perpetua’s, or rather Cornelius Peek’s, true abilities flourish. Her glass eyes become world-known. When she keeps the match to an jeweled eye she creates for a Dogaressa, she finds that she can see what the Dogaressa sees. Thus, Master Peek becomes a libertine and spy, among other things.

I’ve never read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, but for some reason I can’t shake thinking of  Catherynne M. Valente as a YA writer. Therefore, I’m taken aback every time I read one of her stories which is very solidly “adult.” Actually, this story reminded me somewhat of E. E. Kellett’s anthology A Corner in Sleep (1900), which is very concerned with the business possibilities of fantasy situations.

Deal Me In, Week 32 ~ “A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting”

DealMeIn

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

“A Lumberjack’s Guide to Dryad Spotting” by Charles Payseur

Card picked: 6
Found at: Flash Fiction Online

I’m always on the lookout for stories with fantasy critters that aren’t very common. Dryads fit that bill.

This story is structured with a back and forth, by paragraph, between the burgeoning relationship of a lumberjack and his tent-mate and the instructions for recognizing dryads, the sometime dangerous tree spirits. As the romance advances, we also learn that parts of a dryad can be sold for good money. And money can buy a lot freedom.

“Come away with me,” you say, and you whisper your dream, of a small home ringed by tall shadows. Not safe but safer. Not perfect but beautiful.

This is a fairy tale and it might even have a happy ending. (As long as you’re not a dryad…)