Saturday, December 31, 2016

“A Lunar Labyrinth” by Neil Gaiman



“A Lunar Labyrinth” by Neil Gaiman

A dark and mysterious maze.  A stranger as a guide and someone out seeking to adventure in the unknown or at least the lesser known of things in the world.

In the introduction Neil Gaiman talks about what made him write this story.  He got the idea from a story called “A Solar Labyrinth” by Gene Wolfe.  He said that if there is a solar maze there must be a lunar maze somewhere as well.  And why not have a wolf (or Wolfe) in the story as well!

During the story an old man acts as a guide for a traveler who was seeking out the Lunar Labyrinth.  It turns out the labyrinth was burned down.  I wish the story would of gone more into why the maze was burned down.  It does make some references to why it could have been burned down, but nothing concrete.  It doesn’t seem that the maze was evil in any way.

The maze was used during different phases of the moon for different purposes.  It healed the sick, restored love between lovers, and introduced lust where it was needed.  Children played in the maze and parents brought them to run the maze.

The old man recounts all of these tales about what the maze was used for before they burned it down.  It has slightly grown back and the traveler gets to see parts of it, and as he steps into the maze you hear a wolf howl.

I thought this was just an ok story.  It didn’t quite feel like it was going anywhere.  Just more of a flowery piece of writing and prose.  There is a time and place for that style of writing, and things that I’ve read by Neil Gaiman definitely fall into flowery prose.  He is masterful at what he does, but I just have to be in the right mood for his style of writing.  I don’t think I was for this story.  It just didn’t do much for me.

“Unwrapping” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman



“Unwrapping” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

This story come from the anthology “Firebirds Rising” edited by Sharyn November.

This is one of those stories that I read and decide to just go with it.  Not sure exactly where the story is taking me and what direction I’m heading in.

It follows a young girl, Brenna, and her friend, Nadia.  There is a Halloween dance at school that night and Nadia is keeping her costume a secret.  After they dress up Brenna in her mummy costume, it’s time for Nadia’s big unvailing.

This story talks a lot of friendship and what friendship means.  It delves into how friends become friends and to a certain extent different levels of friendship.  Brenna becomes Nadia’s best friend because she is different, and unique.  Brenna listens to what people, or Nadia, have to say.  She genuinely listens and gives honest answers.

I think that people in general have friends of different levels and this story does a good job talking about the relationship between friends.  People seek out someone they can trust and someone they know they can count on when the time comes.  Nadia gives the prime example of this during the story.  She knows she can trust Brenna and proves it by giving her a secret that no one else know about her.

Nadia turns out to be a dimensional being, or possibly a demon.  It isn’t exactly clear, but what is known is that Nadia decides she know Brenna well enough to trust her with her most precious secret.  Brenna knowing that this is quite a secret among friends isn’t quite sure what to do.  So she does what friends do and goes with the flow.  Doesn’t let her “new” friend phase her and they just go about their day like any other day.

I like this story because I think it talks about the true nature of friendship.  True friends stick by each other come hell or high water.  This is demonstrated very well during the story.  The writing was good and flowed smoothly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Creve Coeur" by Jacob M Appel

"Creve Coeur" by Jacob M Appel 

This story is from the anthology "Scouting for the Reaper" put together and written by Jacob M. Appel. 

Ever hurt by love?  Fallen for the wrong girl and had your heart broken in two?  Then this story is right up your alley.  This is a story about love, how strong of a bond it can form, and how quickly it can break a heart.  This is also about the relationships that form over a lifetime and the strength of a marriage put through the ringer. 

A family, living in Creve Coeur, Rhode Island, are meandering through life when a woman by the name of Sheila Stanton enters their life, again.  The story is told through the voice and eyes of a fifteen-year-old boy named Wade.  His father, Charlie, owned and ran a small lighting store.  He was expanding his store to include the space bought on each side of his store.  During the opening ceremony a fifteen year old girl came up and started asking around for Mr. Dortmund.  When Charlie inquired about what she needed, the girl, Pamella, responded by telling him that her mother asked for his help to install a chandelier.   Charlie finds out that her "step-mother" (as Pamella calls her) is Sheila Stanton.  When Charlie hears who is asking him for help he says he will come over and see what he can do. 

Sheila Stanton turns out to be the ex-fiance of Charlie.  She left him and ran away leaving him holding the bag.  She is also the lone survivor of the serial killer "Red Ribbon Strangler."  She was held captive for ninety-one days before he let her loose.  He died without ever explaining why she was the only one he didn't kill. 

Wade was in love from the moment he saw Pamella at the opening ceremony.  He was hook, line, and sinker caught.  His dad asked him to go with him to Sheila's house and  Wade was more than obliging to help out.  When they arrived Sheila sent Pamella and Wade off for a tour and his father consented.  While standing out on the balcony overlooking the city Pamella talked about wanting a super Christmas display like the one at his dad's store.  Wade then promises to build her a display like she wants. 

Over the next few months Wade spends every day at Sheila's house measuring and eventually putting up the display.  And everyday Charlie stopped by early to visit with Sheila for an hour or so.  Everything seemed fine until one night after they arrived home and Wade heard his parents fighting.  His mother was screaming at Charlie about his visits with Sheila.  She screamed that he still loved Sheila and why not just move in with her since he spends so much time over there with her. 

This is where the test of marriage strength comes into play.  They would fight everyday and everyday Charlie would try to put her mind at ease.  How do you console a pissed off woman that thinks her husband is cheating on her though?  You just do the best you can.  They remained married throughout this story, buit not without some major difficulties. 

Pamella hardly spent any time at her home.  Wade was by himself more often than not working on the Christmas display.  he was starting to get really mad.  He wanted to spend time with Pamella and show off his skills and abilities to her, but she was off with other boys doing only God know what. 

This eventually leads to a climax where Charlie and Wade are together and each are angry.  Angry at the world, and angry at each other.  They each snap at each other, but really niether of them understands why. 

Wade trys to express himself to Pamella one night.  He finds her out on a swing, drinking, and alone.  He tells her he loves her and all he gets back is a figurative Thank You.  

Well it turns out Sheila is sick with cancer, and she is fighting for her life.  That means more time Charlie spends with Sheila, and more fighting at night.    
Then a twist in the story turns everyone on their head. 

Jacob's writing style is very readable.  I am enjoying reading his writing so far and I doubt that will be changing with future stories.  This was a great story about love from opposite ends of the specturm.  Of one man who is trying to help because he owes it to himself to love her and a boy who is just starting to feel the pain of what love can be.  Love is a bitch when it comes down to it.  And this is a beautiful way of expressing that emotion through story.

All That Robot Shit by Rich Larson

"All That Robot Shit" by Rich Larson   All That Robot Shit was first published in Asimov Magazine, August 2016,  issue  ...