Short Story Tarot Challenge

The challenge is: 78 weeks, 78 short stories! Let’s see how far I get;-)

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I’m going to use a Tarot deck to randomly select a short story to read each week. I’m using the Thoth Tarot deck which was painted by Lady Frieda Harris following instructions from Aleister Crowley. It’s a beautiful deck and was recommended to me by my brother.

I have a lot of unread short stories in my tbr pile. I also have a deck of tarot cards that has been collecting dust in a drawer for years. I will combine them as a way to get me back into reading. I know very little about the tarot, so I’m hoping to learn more about it through this challenge. Continue reading

The White Ship (1919) by H.P. Lovecraft

‘From the East tempestuous winds arose, and chilled me as I crouched on the slab of damp stone which had risen beneath my feet.’

 

First published in 1919, this is the second story in Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle. It tells the tale of Basil Elton, a lighthouse keeper who speaks of “the secret lore of ocean.” When the moon is full, he witnesses a White Ship which “glides smoothly and silently across the sea“. On this ship is a “bearded and robed” man who signals Basil to join him. Together, they voyage among a group of mystical islands beginning with ‘the Land of Zar’.

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Polaris (1918) by H.P. Lovecraft

“Slumber, watcher, till the spheres,
Six and twenty thousand years
Have revolv’d, and I return
To the spot where now I burn.
Other stars anon shall rise
To the axis of the skies;
Stars that soothe and stars that bless
With a sweet forgetfulness:
Only when my round is o’er
Shall the past disturb thy door.”

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Image (c) Greg Parker

Written in 1918 and first published in 1920, Polaris is the first story in Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle. In this short tale, the narrator describes the night sky seen from his bedroom window, paying particular attention to the Pole Star. Continue reading

Recent Finds: Nova 2; ‘The Airs of Earth’ by Brian Aldiss; Dangerous Visions 3

On a recent trip over to England I found these three gems in a second-hand book store. The shop was “Empire Exchange” in Manchester. It was the first time in years that I had explored the shelves of a “proper” second-hand store. I paid an unbelievable five pounds for all three books, (about $6.50).

Nova 2, Edited by Harry Harrison (1975)

The 1975 Sphere paperback. Cover art by Eddie Jones.

From the back cover: ‘Once again Harry Harrison has collected a dazzling line-up of talent for the second of his exciting NOVA collections. Established writers and new talent rub shoulders, their common ground a brilliant talent for sf.’

Includes the short stories: ZIRN LEFT UNGUARDED, THE JENGHIK PALACE IN FLAMES, JON WESTERLY DEAD by Robert Sheckley; EAST WIND, WEST WIND by Frank M. Robinson; THE SUMERIAN OATH by Philip Jose Farmer; NOW + n NOW- by Robert Silverberg; TWO ODYSSEYS INTO THE CENTER by Barry Malzberg; DARKNESS by Andre Carneiro; ON THE WHEEL by Damon Knight; MISS OMEGA RAVEN by Naomi Mitchison; THE POET IN THE HOLOGRAM IN THE MIDDLE OF PRIME TIME by Ed Bryant; THE OLD FOLKS by James E. Gunn; THE STEAM-DRIVEN BOAT by John Sladek; I TELL YOU, IT’S TRUE by Poul Anderson; AND I HAVE COME UPON THIS PLACE BY LOST WAYS by James Tiptree Jr.; THE ERGOT SHOW by Brian Aldiss Continue reading

2084 (2017) Edited by George Sandison

‘There is no singular truth, no fact that cannot be altered, repositioned and resold to the world.’ -“Degrees of Elision” by Cassandra Khaw

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Unsung Stories’ 2084 is a collection of fifteen views of our future inspired by Orwell’s classic novel. What kind of a world could we see one hundred years after Nineteen Eighty-Four? It seems almost redundant to ask if Big Brother will still be watching us. In his introduction, George Sandison suggests that these tales are less predictions of dystopian futures than extensions of our present fears. As technology becomes ever more prevalent in our lives, are our fears of too much surveillance and too little privacy warranted?

Here are brief summaries of the stories that impressed me the most: Continue reading

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Twelve (2018) Edited by Jonathan Strahan

 

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Background

The Best SF&F Volume Twelve contains 29 short stories of genre fiction selected by Jonathan Strahan. I was so impressed with last year’s Volume Eleven that I didn’t hesitate to buy this new Volume Twelve when it was released in March 2018. It is another high-quality collection in which every story deserves to be read. Authors include Charlie Jane Anders, Samuel R. Delany, Greg Egan, Dave Hutchinson, Caitlin R Kiernan, Yoon Ha Lee, Max Gladstone, Alastair Reynolds, and many more.

In his introduction, Strahan offers some of his highlights of the year including the resurgence of “the novella,” which suggests that readers are keen to read more short fiction. Strahan recommends Tor.com for the regular “free” short stories it provides. He also comments on the continuing quality of such monthly publications as Lightspeed, Asimov’s, Interzone, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and more. Continue reading

Breathmoss and Other Exhalations (2004) by Ian R. MacLeod

In his introduction to Breathmoss and Other Exhalations, Ian R. MacLeod offers his definition of the stories he desires to tell:

“stories that make us think, stories which surprise us not because they’re showing us something new, but because they’re revealing through a lie’s tilted mirror something we suddenly realize with that lovely rush of recognition we’ve known all along.”

 

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Cover Artwork by Bob Eggleton

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The Fog Horn (1951) by Ray Bradbury

‘I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns.’

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Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn was first published in 1951 in The Saturday Evening Post. I came across it in his 1953 short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun, which is a HUGE recommendation if you haven’t yet read it. This is the first of my Hallowe’en Reads 2018.

The Fog Horn is a tale of two men who work at a secluded lighthouse and what they witness there on a cold November night. It contains themes of loneliness, isolation, companionship, the power of nature, as well as how little we know about the vast depths of the ocean. Continue reading

Hallowe’en Reads 2018

The sky before a typhoon. View from my garden.

Happy Autumn!

As the days cool and grow shorter and the darkness spreads its ebony fingers, are you ready for some chills and thrills?

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I make – and often fail to complete – a plan for my October reading. As the theme is Hallowe’en, my chosen genre is horror or any kind of weird fiction. I’m planning to focus on novellas and short stories this year as my reading-time has shrunk over the last few months. So, without further ado, here is my list of stories to read as I tentatively set foot into the October country. Continue reading

Mad Hatters & March Hares (2017) Ed. by Ellen Datlow

From the book’s Synopsis:

‘Ellen Datlow asked eighteen of the most brilliant and acclaimed writers working today to dream up stories inspired by all the strange events and surreal characters found in Wonderland.’

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Art by Dave McKean

In her introduction, Datlow writes of her love of ‘the Alice books’, especially the many ‘illustrated versions’. A few years ago, she was asked by someone at a convention if there was an ‘anthology idea’ she had always wanted to do. This question led to the creation of this new collection of Alice-inspired short stories: Mad Hatters and March Hares.

Whether you have read the original books or watched one of the numerous film adaptations, you will be very familiar with Alice and the weird and wonderful characters she meets on her journey down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. How many can you name off the top of your head? Go on, try it!

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