What else did I listen to? A really weird story that started out like a security theatre parody, but philosophically uninspired and with really bland characters. It was first turning weird, with the entire US vanishing, and then dropping in Exposition Man (well, smart and attractive woman, but) turned up to give the most ludicrous explanation justifying it all. All the while it felt quite like a Chinese propaganda piece. That's my take on “Security Check” by Han Song.
Emily Devenport's “The Servant” leads us into extreme class struggle on board a Galaxy class generation ship, where the Executives celebrate lavish parties in artificial gardens, while everyone else is worms serving their whims and running maintenance. The main character is a ruthful killer and the start of an augmented new generation with music, art, and empathy, so this story also fulfils my desires for utopias. And Kate Baker of #clarkesworld is awesome at speaking the setting alive.
J.B. Park's “It Was Educational” was not appealing to me on the surface. Historical disasters propped up with movie aesthetics to create immersive interactive virtual reality games for the curious? Nah. But actually, I do play tabletop RPGs like Blackout, Dog Eat Dog, Night Witches, or Dialect, which fall into a comparable niche, I guess. So I think I should read this story #againlater, and understand what moral and philosophical point the author wants me to understand.
“Today I am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker had me close to tears because it reminded me of a time about a year ago, when the health and mental state of my own Gran were rapidly declining. It is a fascinating story, though, and I find the road to self-awareness of Mr. Robot's empathy net really nicely described, and the same applies to his conflicting directives. Of those, I liked several, but I found the tension between privacy and empathy in particular a grandiose element of the narration.
“Hair” by Adam Roberts is my first story of the new year (yesterday's toot was still in my drafts folder waiting to be shortened to 400 characters) and it is a good one, full of big technological changes pulling societal upheaval after them, moral issues, little puzzles left unanswered, and good writing. It fits perfectly with a game of “Shock:” I want to play next week.
Fiction: Desperate Measures
“The Hungry Tower” by Pan Haitian starts with a spaceship wreck and turns dark fast. A hungry beast, desperate survivors, a lack of edible biology. While beast, hunger and desperation diminish the remaining group, the priest (Christ and Buddha existed, as do boilers on spaceships) discovers that in this particular star system, a human mind can, due to wibbly vibration science, summon matter. Shame his moralizing has annoyed everyone so he lands in the pot himself. Eww.
I liked Yoon Ha Lee stories in the past. “Snakes” is no exception: In a beautifully strange space war setting, a soldier tries to get back her fallen comrade with the help of the mysterious former enemies. It takes her eons and more to accept that any thing she might regain is not her soldier sister, but one kind of reflection out another.
Fiction: desperate measures
“The Hungry Tower” by Pan Haitian starts with a shipwreck and turns dark fast. A hungry beast, desperate survivors, a lack of edible biology. While beast, hunger and desperation diminish the remaining group, the priest meditates and discovers that in this particular star system, the human mind can, because of wibbly-wobbly vibration science, summon matter. Shame he has already pissed of everyone with his moral high ground and lands in the pot himself. Eww.
“Android Whores Can't Cry” by Natalia Theodoridou weaves a mass of ugly themes (death, government massacres, abusive relationships, gore) into a deliberately ambiguous and fragmented story, always coming back to Nacre as the super-hard and superficially beautiful, radiant material forming to protect the organism from fractures and intrusions.
I found an RPG group here, and they seem to be awesome people. I ran them through a session of Blades in the Dark – robbing the mansion of a uni professor deeply involved in ectonic engineering, demonology and stuff like that, who had trapped a drowning ghost in his basement for home security and had acquired a Leviathan hunter's almanac the crew wanted/needed. You know, standard stuff. They got in clean, but the bomb they decided to rig in his secret basement lab went off on their way out.
Today, I heard “Further North” by Kay Chronister. It's a family story. Not a particularly happy one, because it involves themes of ostracism from disability, in a somewhat broken world. But it has some hope, some curious world building, cultural aspects that are strange, but comprehensible to me, packed in good narration that I might want to enjoy again with some more concentration. And Kate Baker reading it superbly for the #clarkesworld podcast.
“When Your Child Strays From God” (Sam J. Miller), you, as highly faithful mother and Pastor's wife, take a dose of his very highly illegal drugs (you did some random Google research on that and you know all the psychedelic and psychotic and mind-colliding episodes it can induce), drive your car to your former lover and find your son in a relationship with his son. And make a blogpost about it all. The story does well at narrating inner struggle, but on second thought feels really inconsistent.
There should be a swagger-like standard for command-line tools... 🤔
What do I mean by that?
Wouldn't it be great if tools provided an interface to an automated documentation of their own command-line parameters and flags?
This could be used to provide interactive help while typing on the prompt, as well as accurate auto-completion in your shell.
Caitlin R. Kiernan's “Riding the White Bull” (a title I don't understand) is a noir cosmic horror story of alien parasite invasion, with the typical unexplained compatibility of distant aliens with human bodies and psyche. It's bleek, it's postapocalyptic, told by an unreliable narrator jumping between scenes, and it has random humans with part animal physiology. If some of that is your thing, it might actually be a good story for you. I isn't for me, though.
Terry Bisson's “The Hole in the Hole” is a story about old cars and wormholes. It's quite fun to listen to, apart from the always shifting goalposts of formulas that Wilson Woo is scribbling everywhere. It would be nice if at some point he gave a prediction, right or wrong, instead of only post-hoc explanations. That character, and his contrast with the straight-up lawyer protagonist, is marvelous, though. He reminds me, in a good way, of the pages upon pages of backstory of Old Man Henderson.
“This Wanderer, in the Dark of the Year” by Kris Millering is one of those first alien contact stories, including a meteor-style thing with apparent markings falling from the sky, an alien emerging, and the main character learning to communicate with it. That's not the special bit of this story. The special bit is that this is actually a story about armed conflict, told by a war correspondent who has met the surviving victims of massacres and not got away unscathed.
Andy Dudak's “Asymptotic” is a story about the thrills of faster-than-light travel, and its dangers to the fabric of the universe. The universal speed limit is the law, obey it! It will be enforced, by the main character. I expected that time travel, accidental or otherwise, would be a major plot point, but it is avoided in favour of a persistent theme of the main character's consciousness being to some extent outside of time, reenforced (ha!) by the story jumping around in his timeline.
Geek of computer models; Consumer of speculative fiction; Armchair anthropologist through role playing games.
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.