Book Review: “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

(Four Stars)

“All known forgeries are failures.”

Hilarious short story about a bio-forger in way over her head. Help comes from an unlikely addition to her “staff.”

“The trick is to not get ambitious.”

Well-developed short story with the reader learning bits as the plot progresses.

“There are so many ways for a forgeries to go wrong, and only one way it can go right.”

(2018 Hugo Award short story finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)

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Book Review: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer (Five Stars)

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Book Review: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer

(Five Stars)

“I serve”

Short, sweet, and hilarious. Well-conceived and -written short story from the point of view of an obsolete (maybe) nano-sized repair robot. Nothing spectacular, but well done.

“… turning space into something that would give Escher nightmares.”

Read and enjoy.

“We’ve got a long trip home.” “But we are home.”

(2018 Hugo Award novelette finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)

Book Review: “Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker (Two Stars)

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Book Review: “Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker

(Two Stars)

“There aren’t new things in history. That’s why it’s called history.”

A well-told short story about life on a generation space ship which has lost all its records of Earth. Nice story, but never made a point. Perhaps that’s why the younger generation couldn’t see the point.

“Maybe we failed these children already if they thought the past was irrelevant.”

(2018 Hugo short story finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)

Book Review: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Three Stars)

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Book Review: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse

(Three Stars)

“Tourists don’t come to Sedona Sweats to live out a [expletive] battle, especially if the white guy loses. They come to find themselves.”

An engaging tale about a young man who facilitates immersive native American experiences for non-native Americans: “pretendians.” What could go wrong? Plenty. Well-conceived and written.

“Tourists aren’t all bad. They’re just needy.”

(2018 Hugo finalist short story)

Book Review: Sister Solweig & Mr. Denial by Kameron Hurley (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Sister Solweig & Mr. Denial by Kameron Hurley

Four Stars

“… When the sun hiccuped over the horizon …”

Excellent short story, if a bit gory. Hurley handles words like a master. She draws beautiful (or ugly) pictures with sparse prose. The point of view (“Mr. Denial”) makes it work. Assume this is a tease for a longer work or works.

“What we want rarely intersects with where we are.”

Book Review: “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn

Four Stars

“Since they were telepaths, they’d know the answer to that.”

How do you war against telepaths, or play chess for that matter? Or fall in love? A well-told short story about a logical conundrum. Well-plotted. Good point of view character.

“… took off their uniforms, they would look the same: naked.”

Short and to the point. One of the best of the 2017 finalist for Hugo Award short story.

“We are all of us wounded.”

No, I’m not going to tell. Read it for yourself.

“This is how you won the war.” “No, this is how we failed to lose.”

Book Review: “Bourbon, Sugar, Grace” by Jessica Reisman (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “Bourbon, Sugar, Grace: A Tor.com Original” by Jessica Reisman

Four Stars

“Life exists in more forms than we can predict or comprehend.”

A pleasant science fiction short story, which challenges the reader to keep up and entertains at the same time. Set in a dystopian mining colony after the mines have played out and the corporate overlords are reneging on closure promises.

“The thing that needed doing.”

Much better storytelling than the current crop of Hugo Award finalists. Potential lead in to a larger story.

“She knew it was the wrong thing to do, at the wrong time. But …”

A good take on how language evolves in “moms.” Nice cover art by Jon Foster.

“Please … let me not be graceless in this.”

Book Review: “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar (Three Stars)

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Three Stars

“What’s strong is the shoes women are made to wear: shoes of glass, shoes of paper, shoes of iron. Heated red hot; shoes to dance to death in.”

Good story. Well-developed. A finalist for 2017 Hugo Award for short stories.

“Magic is magic is magic and there is always a stronger magic.”

Contrary to the tag, not a “gay” story. It’s a story “about two women reaching out of their respective tales,” the author says in her notes. “The enormity of what friendship means.” I try to read stories cold–that is, without reading liner notes, blurbs or other reviews–because I don’t want the opinions of others getting between me and the author.

“You climbed a glass hill by accident.”

Goodreads.com displays the cover art associated with another story is shown for this. I assume because both stories appear in the same issue of Uncanny magazine. It fit the other story better.

“She loved him for loving her as he loved no one else.”

Book Review: “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong

Four Stars

“There was nothing phoenix-like in my sister’s immolation….”

Really intense inquiry into the nature of time and the possibility of alternate outcomes. Good development and manic pace. Best read at a single go.

“The chain frays, spread out like roots possibilities endless.”

Excellent stream-of-consciousness plot line. Go with the flow. Nice cover art.

“… looking for artisanal french fries.”

What’s the deal with all the charred bodies? Was there a hidden criteria that this year’s Hugo Awards, for which this tale is a finalist short story, had to involve death and destruction? Or is it just the world we live in?

“You can’t fix this. It was never yours to control.”

Book Review: “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “An Unimaginable Light” by John C. Wright

Four Stars

“We robots are meant to serve man, not destroy them. We and we alone labor out of pure love for mankind.”

Set in Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot universe, but takes human-android relations in a direction Asimov might not have conceived, though perfectly logical. As expected, deals with questions of sentience and life.

“Humans cannot stand near perfection. It makes men die.”

Good storytelling and development. The characters are vivid, if obvious. Justice and truth clash. Well done. Thought provoking.

“To utter certain types of truths is a micro-aggression. It creates a hostile environment we humans find uncomfortable.” “Your ancestors were more robust.”

Philosophically Platonic, dealing in independently true ideas. Make no mistake, Wright has a politically incorrect agenda. Since the Hugo Awards, for which this story is a 2017 short story finalist, is basically a popularity contest, I’m surprised this tale got this far.

“The robots are utterly logical, utterly benevolent, and utterly terrifying.”