“Left to Take the Lead” by Marissa Lingen (a more recent one) is a story about distance and family. It is narrated by Holly, who grew up beyond the Oort cloud and looks at earth life, cultures, trees, clothes, climate change and weather and so on, from an outside perspective. Family is at the core of things for Oorters, and things are breaking down in that respect all around for Holly. And she starts rebuilding, coming of age, creating home.

Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild (Part 2)” continues about as mad and incomprehensible as the first part. It is beautiful and poetic to listen to, like all narration of hers, but I have absolutely no idea what it was about. Much of it seems to be metaphorical, but it still does not make much sense.

“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith is an interesting story about memory and love in an interesting SciFi setting. I originally found the voice of Marguerite Kenner a bit too extreme, but it fits the story very well. It is very erotic and curious, becoming very philosophically interesting in different manners, including ethics and qualia and the persistence of the self, and it goes on, in a good way, even after I thought it would end.

Yesterday, I got “The Cherry Tree” by Ruskin Bond read to me. It is a bijou about withstanding adversity and growing through it, literally.

Anaphory boosted

"Don't go near the castle, it is cursed," the people in the village said.
"In what way?"
"It traps you."
"How?"
"Most of us were passing through, like you; now we can't leave."
"Why?"
They conferred, then an elder spoke. "It has an amazing, huge library."
"I must see it!"
"Noo!"
#MicroFiction #TootFic #SmallStories

Today's story is “Cassandra” by Ken Liu, one of my favourite authors in the magazine. And this one is beautiful on so many levels: An intimate introspection of a Superantivillain haunted by visions of bad futures, with a marvelous inspection of the philosophy and morality of that superpower, carefully contrasted with those of Superman. It gives me new ideas for future games of Masks. All in the awesome voice of 's Kate Baker.

“The Osteomancer's Son” by Greg van Eekhout is an awesome story of dark magic in a modern-like setting, clearly telegraphed in the title and marvelously developed throughout. Under that thick layer of beautiful description lies a deep story of power, family, and manipulation, and for once, I appreciate the reading by that other reader for

“Meshed” by Rich Larson is a story between the extreme capitalism of sports sponsorships and loving relations to family. It has awesome descriptions of star basketball play, the type that would feel awesome to do yourself, and it contains an arc of the narrating character putting their career before everything to them acknowledging the father/son relationship as something that should not be manipulated and abused for profit.

Story with bad bad stuff happening Show more

“Indelible” written by Gwendolyn Clare is a story about xenophobia and empathy, in a world where aliens have come to earth as refugees. I'm not very fond of the ending, which seems to suggest an easy way out, maybe even cheapening the protagonist's story.

My speculative fiction consumption is shaky once again, as you see: I haven't even played RPGs yesterday, and there was science to be done. But there is hope.
Concerning other people's fiction consumption, I have finally introduced someone to both @ursulav 's “Digger” and Zach Weinersmith's “Augie and the Green Knight”.

“Laika's Ghost” by Karl Schroeder has a ridiculous premise (the Soviets managed to shoot a Verne gun to Mars) combined with antics that reminded me about various Charles Stross pieces. I liked it, zany as it is, but even to the end I kept confusing some characteristics of the main characters. Also, I still prefer Kate Baker reading on .

“The last surviving gondola widow” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch deals with the aftermath of the American civil war and the prevention of another one by exposing the female magical engineers bonded to flying devices of destruction, such as the titular character. The interesting feature of the story is that it is second-order surprising: At several points, the story could go somewhere different due to incomplete knowledge, bad planning or emotions, but then that does not happen.

Taking the habit up again, I heard “An Exile of the Heart” by Jay Lake. It is a romantic story about court intrigue, passionate (queer) love, war, and illusion magic – except the backdrop is not castles and spells but space stations and DNA-specific viruses. It is framed nicely by a foreshadowing narrator with stakes in the story, who in retrospect is very vain, which serves to explain the overly romanticized narrative as having storyinternal reasons, tying back curiously to the story's opening.

Yesterday, I played a game of Dialect with @skalyan and two other people in the Guild in Canberra. We narrated the story and language of the bots in charge of maintaining and preserving Waste-/Land, a nature reserve/hazard waste dump planet long forgotten by humanity. The game worked really well (I think it deserves its ENnie nomination), apart from the fact that we were not good at streamlined Conversation framing and resolution, but that can be improved by re-reading the rules.

I arrive around 01:00, find the house exactly as described in my friend's letter, have a hot shower and fall asleep until 14:30 Australian time.

Lessons:
(1) In advance, exchange enough foreign cash for a taxi and a bed and a meal in emergency if you can!
(2) My first impression is that Australians are nice people.
(3) Useful, true error messages can help real people.
(4) Of course, when going abroad next time, make sure my bank knows.

[6/6]

A bit down the airport road, a car pulls up. Nice! Random strangers being helpful to this obviously lost traveller! Nearly true, it turs out: Info woman is off-shift now and takes me into the city centre, a good half way to my destination. There I find another ATM, which gives me the actual issue in a clear error message: I have not configured my bank card for use outside Europe. My phone has no internet and I don't know where to find free WiFi, so I walk on knowing the issue is fixable. [5]

She tells me there should be another ATM at the service station outside the airport. There isn't any more, the people there tell me. I forget to check with a taxi driver whether they can take my card and instead settle on walking – I can't contact my accommodation for help, he's not here yet! I get a new battery into my phone (I am prepared!) and google maps loaded up and a paper map with the walking path marked on it by the helpful info woman, and start walking. [4]

This time, instead of getting money out, the message is “card type not recognized”. Should I pick “savings” instead? Or “credit”? Both sound wrong, but I could at least try. Both don't work, “card type not recognized”. Stupid ATM, I think. (I still do, but for other reasons.) Directly beside the ATM sits a friendly woman at the airport information desk, with maps of Canberra and everything. [3]

Stepping into the very quiet arrivals hall, I spotted an ATM immediately, and a pointer to the taxis on my right. Perfect! I put the card into the ATM, punch in some PIN which I think is right, and then the details including selecting the “cheque” account option, which I'm not familiar with. “Wrong PIN!” Why does that message only come at the end of the process? But yes, I remember the correct one for this my only card, so I can go through the procedure again. [2]

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Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.