I should be going to bed, and I also should have posted earlier, but such is life. A quick review of the latest issue of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, a small but well-regarded magazine published by Small Beer Press of Easthampton, Massachusetts (aka Kelly Link and Gavin Grant), the people who are putting out the new trade paper edition of Ted Chiang's brilliant Stories of Your Life and Others this October. Both Pandemonium and Porter Square Books sell it in hardcopy, or you can get it electronically for not-much money. I think it is consistently the best SF magazine I read, the magazine most likely to give me stories that I like, that I find well-written, that make me think, that discomfort me in a useful way. This latest issue is no exception.
- "A City of Museums", by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud (translated by Edward Gauvin) — Châteaureynaud is a French writer, and this story was written in 1983 but only translated recently; Gauvin has a collection of Châteaureynaud's works in translation (coming?) out from Small Beer Press. It's an odd little story about a city which is made up entirely of museums, and about the "rats" who live in cracks writing, creating art, in the hopes that one day their hideout too will become a museum ("see 'the bed where the author of Sylvie’s Baubles had once lain in state'!") A bit about how artists hope to be remembered, what purpose the creation of art serves and what purpose the memorialization of art serves.
- "Dear Aunt Gwenda" — a cute little pseudo-advice column.
- "Fire-Marrow", by Jennifer Linnaea — a blind man lives by a subterranean river, his only contact with the outside world the toy boats his former lover, now dying, sends, magically filled with provisions for him. A gentle sort of meditation on death.
- "This Is Not Concrete", by Ben Francisco — a suddenly-precognitive girl and her father hunt for the Concrete Man (a figure of animate, well, concrete) which killed her mother and brother. The story works quite well, of course, read literally, and it wasn't until just now that I noticed the pun in the title. Now I need to reread it with that in mind. Even read literally I thought it was the best story in the issue — it reminded me a bit of "The Ghost-Hunter's Beautiful Daughter" from Asimov's some months back.
- "The Famous Detective and His Telepathy Goggles", by Sean Adams — exactly what it says on the tin. Short, amusing, absurd, steampunk.
- "Box", by Susannah Mandel (poem) — remarkably vivid and evocative given it's only four lines long. Exemplifies the technical skill (in this case particularly the use of meter) I find lacking in modern poetry.
- "Circumnavigation, With Dogs", by Richard Gess — could be considered an SF-twist story, not that it's not foreshadowed for the alert reader, and its format is interesting, and I actually liked it quite a bit regardless of the twist. Of course with my current job I suddenly take a lot more notice of travel-related things.
- "The Sleeper", by Eilis O'Neal — "My brother sleeps… I don't." Obviously hits close to home in a lot of ways, which makes it really, really creepy. Aaaaaugh.
- Three Poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey — Three poems about a fox-wife and her husband. They call to mind Neil Gaiman's "The White Road" and the Decemberists' The Crane Wife.
- "Heliotrope Hedgerow", by Christa Bergerson (poem) — An English sonnet! At least in rhyme structure, an English sonnet, though the meter until the ending couplet is altogether more complex and interesting. A nice bit of imagery in "take the key and cross through the clover door / transcend sublunary forevermore"
- "The Queen's Reason", by Richard Parks — a nice twist on the Emperor's New Clothes fable.
- "Music of the Spheres", by Daniel Braum — obviously references the jazz musician Sun Ra. I think a lot of the interesting oddity in the story is borrowed from Sun Ra himself rather than the author's own invention, but if the story gets you to give Sun Ra a listen, that's a good thing.
- "The Problem with Strudel", by Sarah Tourjee — really, really odd. Either the protagonist has some form of mental illness or that world is really, really odd. Or both.
- "Elephants of the Platte", by Thomas Israel Hopkins — A man and his amnesiac wife travel the Nebraska Canal from New York to the West Coast, in this oddly quiet little post-oil tall tale.
- "Exuviation", by Haihong Zhou — first appeared in Science Fiction World, the biggest Chinese science fiction magazine; translated by the author. The odd physiology of the cavers, humans who've evolved to live their entire lives in caves, similar to the blind salamanders and so on, and the choices they make in an alien environment to stay faithful to their nature or try to fight it.
Theresa's father is named Gregor, which means vigilant. He makes more noise in his sleep than he does when he's awake. His first language is silence. When he sits in a chair with his legs spread wide, his elbows resting on his thighs, his fingers interlaced, and his head bowed, it means he's thinking hard, or praying. When he stands with his legs as far apart as his shoulders, glaring at you with his arms crossed, it means he's angry. When he puts his right hand on his hip and breathes in light, quick breaths—like an inverse sigh—it means he is frustrated, or sad.
from "This is Not Concrete", by Ben Francisco