Mary Robinette Kowal gives us Death Comes But Twice. Finally, a story I thoroughly enjoyed. I really appreciated her grasp of time/style and how much her story built upon other stories I have loved from the past. I enjoyed her attention to detail, her ability to bring me into her world and I cared about what happened to her characters. For me, this is a double thumbs up! Kudos!
Eve’s Alexandria reviewed Twenty Epics and includes favorable comments about my story “Bound Man.” Here’s a snippet of the section about “Bound Man.”
Other stories do in fact meet many of the criteria listed in my opening paragraph. Mary Robinette Kowal’s ‘Bound Man’ – one of the longer pieces in the anthology – goes for an epic scale in both space and time, having her warrior heroine Li Reiko summoned across the ages, by means of a magical Sword, to aid a beleaguered village community in a harsh northern land. Both Li Reiko’s sophisticated Japan-esque homeland and the Viking-era Iceland analogue to which she travels are nicely evoked – and the heightened, the-fate-of-all-depends-on-this register of epic is captured well:
â€œDeath Comes But Twiceâ€ by Mary Robinette Kowal is a style of horror (with a spike of science fiction) not seen often today. Obviously rooted in classics like Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this tale of a medical experiment to ward off death addresses the reader directly and has a dark finale and the fine writing that readers have come to expect from Kowal.
I have to say that I’m really relieved that she recognized it as science-fiction, even though it’s way, way, way old school. I had in fact just been in a production of Jekyll and Hyde and had that startling moment of epiphany when I realized that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote science fiction. And snobby people say the science fiction can’t be literature. Feh.
Locked In by Mary Robinette Kowal is a nasty bit of text wedged into this issue. The other stories were safe, but this one is downright dangerous. The hazard comes, not from technology spinning out of control, but peopleâ€™s faith in technology being far misplaced. The true evil is in the people, not the tool. The darkness in this piece snuck up on me. This one is a powerful, short piece, not to be missed.
Horizontal Rain is a reasonably short short-story, fewer than 2700 words, but Mary Robinette Kowal packs a good deal of story into those 2700 words. Confusion, fear, fairy tales, trolls, death, driving, construction, meetings, phone calls, and a general sense of unease as the harsh Icelandic wind blows the rain sideways.
Mr. Sherry also posted his dream list of authors to invite for an anthology. Lord help me, I have no idea what sorting criteria could possibly have put me on the list at number two. Still, I like his day dream.
It’s an interesting mental game, isn’t it. Who would you invite to your dream anthology?
That’s not a command, it’s an invitation. Kill Henry Sugar is the name of a band. You’ve been listening to them lately on my Coraline videos. Tonight, they have a CD release at the Living Room. (154 Ludlow St.) The band starts at 10:00
I’ve been wanting to get into Talebones for sometime, and this review by SF Observer explains why. It’s a really good magazine. I’m pleased as punch to have “Death Comes But Twice” in its covers.
About my story, SF Observer says:
This story follows the main character, who takes advantage of the elixir of a doctor he knows to try and understand the suicide of his elder brother. Not surprisingly, the quest takes a turn he doesn’t expect… I can’t really say too much more without turning this into a spoiler.
Kowal does a nice job with this story — it’s short, to the point and elegant. It doesn’t stray from the base idea and its implications — and its results. The story is clearly based in works like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and other such period pieces, but it’s only vaguely a pastiche of such works. Although the format of the story brings those to mind, the text is more up-to-date and comfortable to the modern audience (but without being out-of-place with the story). My only quibble with it is that I’m not sure the title really fits, but that’s little enough in the scope of things.
This was probably my favorite of the issue, even above the Nolan and Glass pieces.
Many contributions are merely very strange or silly, though not in a bad way. Brian Keeneâ€™s â€œThe Dogs of Warâ€ is a kind of Planet of the Apes but with dogs, with Prague having been overrun by intelligent canines. Appropriately enough, K-9 saves the day. â€œSuspension and Disbeliefâ€, by Mary Robinette Kowal, has the Fifth Doctor helping a man to escape execution with the aid of an animated life-size marionette. Supermarionation indeed! â€œThe Dragons of Pragueâ€, by Todd (son of Anne) McCaffrey, sees the Fourth Doctor being set a culinary challenge by a dragon disguised as a chef. As you do.
I’ve returned from a preview screening of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust–tickets provided by the fabulous Livia Llewellyn. Since I got out of the theater, I’ve been wanting to go back. When was the last time that happened to me?
Princess Bride? Goya in Bordeaux? But since then… I can’t remember one.
I’ll see you there. Partly because I want to see it again and sink back into the world, and partly because I want this film to have a really strong opening weekend so that there will be more.
There’s a funny sort of symmetry for me about seeing this film while I’m making the Coraline puppet. The first time I performed in NYC, was with our production of Old Man Who Made Trees Blossom at Here Theater. The puppets are made out of paper–it’s a different technique than the one I’m using now, but still, it’s the first time I used washi paper on a puppet. One of the other performers loaned me a copy of the ARC (advanced review copy) of Stardust–and behold, here I was tonight at an advanced screening. Funny how things work out.
Edited to add: I forgot to mention that large parts of the movie were filmed in Iceland. If you want to understand, really, why I want to move back…
Do you like fables? Fairy tales? Mythic Realism? Writers like Patricia McKillip, Charles DeLint, and Neil Gaiman at his most fantastical? Then youâ€™ll like Shimmer, I believe. It is a beautiful little zine, perfect bound, with eight art and nine fiction pieces (and one interview); around 80 pages of content when you subtract the front and back matter. Iâ€™m not sure about their other issues, but I was left shaking my head wondering if I would ever be able to write as beautifully as the authors included in this issue of Shimmer. I believe the readers and editors did a fine job of choosing material. In some cases it was like reading tapestry.
There’s more! She goes on to say more very nice things about the whole issue–and notices the artists in particular, which always makes me happy.
And if the art in that issue is good, wait until you see the Art Issue. I got to pick gorgeous art and then we asked some of our favorite authors to write stories to fit the art. Just take a sneak peek at this cover by none other than John Picacio. (He’s up for a Hugo, so wish him luck.)
Every piece of art in this issue is something that I’ve drooled over and coveted since I first saw it. Behold! I managed to convince the board to let us flip the usual artist and writer relationship on its head. The stories that we got out of this experiment are by turns chilling and beautiful. I’ll post a trailer for the issue early next week.
Ookami reviewedShimmer Vol 2 #2 and loves us. This makes me happy, particularly the note taken of the art direction. I think our artists are wonderful, so it’s nice when someone else agrees with me.
What I noticed about all the stories is the sheer intelligence that has gone into the writing, even the stories that appealed to me less. There is no flotsam here, but some fine writing that treats the form seriously (even Boogie-woogie man!). This, combined with the attractiveness of the package, means that I can happily recommend the magazine.
Joe Sherry at Adventures in Reading posted a review of Prime Codex.
Prime Codex is the debut collection from the new small press publisher: Paper Golem. Subtitled “The Hungry Edge of Speculative Fiction”, Prime Codex features newer and upcoming authors from the Codex Writer’s Group. Some of the authors collected in Prime Codex include: Tobias Buckell, Cat Rambo, Elaine Isaak, Mary Robinette Kowal, and others. I focus on these four authors simply because these are names that make my head turn and take notice (i.e. I have at least heard of these authors).
When did that happen? I mean, my name in with the other three on that list just doesn’t make sense to me. Not complaining, just boggled. And pleased. Oh yes, very pleased.
Rampion by Mary Robinette Kowal was a very short, but mournful story and is an exquisite short work (very short work.)
ON MY SHELF
Prime Codex, edited by Lawrence Schoen and Michael Livingston:
I picked this up at CONduit last weekend at a reading by Eric James Stone, who has published multiple stories in places like Analog SF and IGMS. Heâ€™s a member of the Codex Writers Group, and stories by members of that group comprise this anthology. Ericâ€™s remarkable and moving story, â€œSalt of Judasâ€ joins stories by new and exciting writers like Mary Robinette Kowal, Ken Scholes, and Tobias Buckell. So if you want to read what the best of the new writers are writing, the Prime Codex anthology is a must-buy. Get your copy here.
If you are curious, you can listen to the audio version of my story here, before you pick up the anthology.
A short piece that is positively sure to get you to mutter “a-ha!” at its cruelly twisted reveal, “Rampion” by Mary Robinette Kowal is the sort of story that is most enjoyable on its first read. Read it without distractions, and enjoy.
He says equally nice things about the rest of the anthology and closes by saying:
Prime Codex has a bit of everything as well: from crisp offerings of science fiction to haunting tales of pure, magical fantasy, everything within is worthwhile. An excellent debut from Paper Golem, with smart choices from Lawrence M. Schoen and Michael Livingston. Come on, order your copy.
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]