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Links to Short Stories around the Interwebs

Mame Bougoma Diene - Another Day in the DesertLet me point you at a fascinating gem over on Escape Pod - a short story by Mame Bougouma Diene titled Another Day in the Desert.


This is available to you both to read, and as a podcast narrated by Halima Salah.

As Escape Pod put it:
Mame Bougouma Diene is a Senegalese American humanitarian living in Brooklyn, NY with a fondness for tattoos, progressive metal and policy analysis. He is the Francophone/US spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society. Another Day in the Desert is a prequel to “Ogotemmeli’s Song” released [...] in AfroSFv3, and also a prequel to “Apes and Satellites” published by Brittle Paper in 2017.

The picture on the right is from the Escape Pod profile of the Narrator of the podcast, Halima Salah.

Links: Mame Bougouma Diene - Another Day in the Desert - Escape Pod

 

Ted Chiang - Hell Is the Absence of GodHere's one I missed at the time - my loss, of course, and all the more my enjoyment and amazement of reading this now. Should, for whatever reason, you be in the same boat, then let me strongly suggest you spend half an hour reading Ted Chiang's novelette Hell Is The Absence of God.

Yes, the title is in itself a Christian quote I reckon, and the story setting/world builds from some parts of current Christian world-view/mythology (and I leave it to the reader to decide how far this is actually Christian, or if the story really constitutes a criticism of said religion). This is a world where the existence of God, of Heaven and Hell, and of Angels is evident, visible, tangible, and thus a major fact of life. Angels visit/pass through the world as a side effect of whatever business they are on, and effect miracle healings, life changing events, but also death and destruction.

There are two groups of people - those who are devout, and will thus go to heaven (and upon death it is observable which direction the soul takes!), and those who are no and go to hell, which is characterised by the absence of God. And, like any such system with decision points, influences, and partly deterministic outcomes there are people gaming the system...

In my opinion not about religion (never mind a specific one per se) but about the nature of belief, devotion, and what it does to a society. Also, in my opinion, a grand piece of writing and well deserving the Hugo and Nebula Awards it won!

 

 

N.K. Jemisin - The City Born GreatN.K. Jemisin is an award-winning (including the Hugo an unprecedented three times in a row) author of speculative fiction short stories and novels who lives and writes in New York. Besides writing, she also is a counseling psychologist and educator, and a political/feminist/anti-racist blogger. She used to write a science fiction column for the New York Times Book Review, and still writes occasional long-form reviews for the NYT.

The City Born Great is a story of her hometown, New York, telling how it develops to the point where it is being 'born' after growing for a long time, and the challenges that exist for cities what reach this stage of maturity.
Neither the idea of cities as entities, living things, separate beings nor the notion of beings, things, groups going through transcending stages and steps are new in themselves. Uncharitably I could describe the short story at hand as Childhood's End for Cities; more charitably I would describe it as fascinating, breathless, headlong, and absorbing in its detail and drive towards (re)birth, and reminiscent of the magic Charlie Human can evoke when he's not too focused on action.
And if I feel that some parts of the climactic scene do not live up the the initial setting and build-up then that's my opinion, and yours might well differ. Have a look yourself, it's worth doing so!

The story is hosted on Tor.com, and so is the picture by Richie Pope that goes with it.

Links: N.K. Jemisin - The City Born Great - Tor.com - Richie Pope

 

Zen Cho - If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try AgainLet me give you a story of ascendance. Or, rather, a story of repeatedly failed ascendance, following an Imugi (Korean Lesser Dragon, some kind of giant serpent) in its repeatedly thwarted attempts to become a Dragon and enter the gates of heaven. It's a story of persistence, of human love, and of the coming together of two very different world views; and it's great.

Zen Cho is a Malayan author living in the UK - her website is linked below, and I would suggest you check it (and her other work) out.

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again was was published by Barnes&Noble

The cover design on the right is by Shirley Jackson

Links: Barnes&Noble - If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again - Zen Cho - Shirley Jackson

 

 

As it's come up on one of my feeds, here I have an absolute classic for you:

Fredric Brown's 1954 short story Solipsist

Whilst he wrote novels, too, I always consider Fredric as one of the grand masters of the short - sometimes very short - story, frequently with an surprising twist to it that can turn an entire story on its head and forces the reader to start again. This is not one of those, but the twist is a classic.

For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia provides the following definition for Solipsism:


 from Latin solus, meaning 'alone', and ipse, meaning 'self', is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

 

 

Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me

 

Doris Lessing – The Sirian Experiments

 

Lavie Tidhar - Central Station

 

Doris Lessing - Shikasta

 

Ken MacLeod - Cosmonaut Keep

 

Peter Watts - Blindsight

 

Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner

 

Liz Williams - Empire of Bones

 

Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku

 

S.P. Somtow – I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City

 

Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives

 

Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace

 

Peter Watts – Maelstrom

 

Sydney Padua - The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

 

Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow

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