Hugo 2019 Reading – September

School has started. Schedules are adjusting. And in the middle of it all, I went on the WXR18 cruise. It’s all been good, though my short fiction listening has put on the back burner. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things this month. Nothing stood out to me, but it was all decent.

Ghost of the Pepper” by M.K. Hutchins
a short story published by Flash Fiction Online

An interesting allegory about peppers holding the sorrows of the dead, and how it’s better to share grief than try to process it all by yourself.

When You’re Ready” by M. Ian Bell
a short story published by Apex

An interesting look at how choices and environment shape a person’s life, including how tough times are necessary. It’s also a look at second chances, repairing lost relationships. I did have a hard time following the story though. Not sure if that’s due to listening or not though. There were two separate stories to follow that came together at the end.

Penitents” by Rich Larson
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

A post-apocalyptic story. It was hard for me to understand the punishment of the cubes on the people. I guess they wanted the people to suffer, but it seemed pointless. Especially when it was the sin of the parents that destroyed the world. That did seem to be the emotion that Larson was going for though, because the end hints at hope of it ending. The depiction of the characters from separate worlds was well contrasted.

Disconnect” by Fran Wilde
a novelette published by Uncanny

It was hard for me to suspend my disbelief for Izze’s condition. Part of it is the idea that her body parts went all the way to different galaxies, which seems really hard to find. Part of it is her saying that joints went missing. I understand bones leaving – but what constitutes the joint? Both bones that meet? The muscles & tendons that move it? Conversely, I had no problem suspending my disbelief of the anti-aging Severin.

I did like the depiction of Izze’s struggles. And how at the end, she turned her disability into a positive, almost like X-Men. Also, this time, I actually felt fear of “the scientists are going to study me!” It’s a fear that happens so often in mutant stories that didn’t seem founded that I’ve started to roll my eyes when I hear it. This story grounded me well, from the lack of answers from previous studies, to the harm that Severin was going through.

Ruby, Singing” by Fran Wilde
a short story published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies

This story is very poetic, in the prose, as well as the lyrics that run throughout. A lot of details that suddenly gain more meaning when you understand what’s going on. It ends in a beautiful tragedy, which are the kinds of stories I don’t normally read.

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