‘The planet Tandy was a gas giant as big as Jupiter, a beautiful object when it rose into Tandy Two’s skies, but uninhabitable and unapproachable.’
“O Moon of My Delight” is a character-driven short story with an interstellar setting. It is one of eight stories found in Brian Aldiss’ 1963 collection “The Airs of Earth“. The story opens with Murragh Harrison preparing to watch the arrival of a Faster-Than-Light starship. He is on the moon Tandy Two, a place which is used as a kind of braking device for the incoming F.T.L. ships. Harrison, a wannabe poet, is there for the spectacular display.
‘The F.T.L. ship burst into normal space on automatic control, invisible and unheard at first. Boring for the world like a metal fist swung at a defenseless heart, it was a gale of force.’
‘I presenced into Cardiff a day after the atrocity.’
This story is taken from Alastair Reynolds’ 2009 UK Edition of ‘Zima Blue and Other Stories’, (which includes three more stories than the original 2006 edition). It’s a very short story that was originally published in The Big Issue magazine. In his post-story notes, Reynolds reveals that “Cardiff Afterlife” is actually a sequel to his novella, “Signal to Noise”. It can be read as a standalone story.
“I am not afraid for my life” […] The project was more important than survival. More important than anything.
After checking his page on the isfdb, I was surprised to see just how many stories Rich Larson has had published. There are over 90 short stories listed from 2011, two books of fiction, as well as two collections. That is very impressive. I am familiar with the author’s name and have read a few of his short stories before. I remember enjoying both “You Make Pattaya” and “An Evening with Severyn Grimes”, which were collected in two of Jonathan Strahan’s yearly “Best Science Fiction & Fantasy” anthologies. I read this story in Clockwork Phoenix 5.
“You mean I’ll live forever?” The thought was almost too great for him to grasp. Words in his mind became fleeting pictures of a hillside covered with long, sweet grass. A hillside smiling in the sun. Day always. No night ever.
In Gene Wolfe’s 1980 collection The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, there are three tales which play with the words of the book’s title:
The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories
The Death of Doctor Island
The Doctor of Death Island
I read the first one last year and really enjoyed it. I haven’t read the second one yet. I’ve just finished reading the third one for my Short Story Tarot Challenge.
Douglas Quail wakes up in his ‘conapt’ after dreaming of Mars. He dreams of walking along its valleys. At the beginning of the story, we are told that Mars is a world ‘which only Government agents and high officials had seen.‘ It’s not a place a ‘miserable little salaried employee‘ can visit. Kirsten, Doug’s wife, reminds him of this every day. But it’s okay because ‘it was a wife’s job to bring her husband down to Earth.‘
This is how Dick’s classic story opens. As he inhales his morning shot of snuff, Doug’s wife complains that he is obsessed with the Red Planet. She wants him to take her on a trip to ‘the bottom of the ocean‘, to ‘one of those year-round aquatic resorts.‘ His Martian dreams can only lead one way: “you’re doomed, Doug!” Continue reading →
‘Whenever you talk, Meyer, I begin to think of a certain tone of green.’
‘Holofilms’, ‘transport units’, ergot, references to Mars, Shakespeare, and Coleridge, Brian Aldiss’s THE ERGOT SHOW is a bit of a wild ride. It reads like a 1960s art-house film script if written by someone under the influence of something strong. Is this what is often labelled New Wave science fiction? It does feel experimental and artistic. I’m not familiar with the movement so please feel free to correct me in the comments below.
The story features two film directors, Pagolini and Rhodes. One is filming the other’s film being made. They attend a party and talk about the ‘holofilm’ industry. This is interspersed with descriptions of various locations and brief scenes featuring some background characters. The effects of consuming ergot fungi plays a small part in the narrative. Continue reading →
‘If we remove him from the past, we have to make sure no one notices the big jagged hole in history we’ll leave.’
I reviewed John Sladek’s 1983 BSFA-winning novel Tik-Tok back in December 2015. I enjoyed the story, describing it as “a darkly humorous satire that casts a wry eye on such topics as art, celebrity, power, politics and slavery.” THE STEAM-DRIVEN BOY is a humourous short story that pokes fun at Asimov’s “Robot” novels. It’s another story taken from the fine 1972 collection Nova 2.
‘His skin was a sheath of aquamarine scales that shifted to turquoise beneath the glare of flickering gas lamps.’
It was the title of P. Djeli Clark’s 2019 novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015 that caught my attention. I’d seen it recommended on Amazon when I was browsing for a new book. It had also appeared on the Locus 2019 Recommended Reading List; a list I always look forward to every year. Before buying a copy, I discovered A Dead Djinn in Cairo was a short story published in 2016 that was set in the same universe. So I quickly purchased it and read it through in one sitting–it’s only just over 40 pages long.
Here are my brief notes for last week’s selected short story:“The Road, And the Valley, And the Beasts” by Keffy R.M. Kehrli:
Nice descriptive writing that starts to tell a short story and then stops. It has the air of a short, introductory, creative writing exercise. It felt like an extract from a story rather than a complete story in itself.
There wasn’t enough to write a review of it so I am going to draw my next card and see what comes up.
It’s the Nine of Wands, also called ‘Strength.’ This card represents spiritual truth and realization. It suggests that we can draw on our inner strength to face whatever obstacles arise.
The short story that corresponds to this card is THE ENDLESS FALL by Jeffrey Thomas. It’s taken from his 2017 collection which has the same title as this story. Instead of waiting a week, I will read and review this story today.
‘Remember our breath turning silver in the moonlight? That’s how I see you now when I close my eyes. Silver-sketched. Embroidered on my eyelids in threads of frost.’
C.S.E. Cooney’s Bone Swans won the World Fantasy Award for best collection in 2016. It’s part of my tbr mountain, and after reading this short story I need to dig it out. The Book of May was a collaboration with Cooney’s husband, Carlos Hernandez. It was published in Mythic Delirium’s 2016 collection: Clockwork Phoenix 5.
This is the story of two friends, Harry and May. One of them is dying. They keep up an exchange via e-mail, texting, and typed letters. This exchange reveals their longstanding feelings for each other, as well as some shared moments from their past. Continue reading →