Picking up where we last left off, I have two short stories to share with you this week, both from “Stories: All-New Tales” Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I have to say, I am really enjoying this particular anthology, and I’m glad I’ve still got another 200 pages to go.
By the end of the first paragraph, I was hooked. This is a big deal for this reader, as I’m afraid it’s harder to impress me as I get older and more persnickety. The basic premise is, a middle-aged woman, living alone, suffering from empty nest syndrome, becomes obsessed with finding the body of a missing local child. Mr. O’Nan does a wonderful job of creating the same obsession in the reader to find out what happened to this missing child. I got so caught up in it, that on first reading, I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown. But then I read it again. And paid attention. Wow. It’s quite brilliant really. Very nice. Thumbs up.
This is a story about three surviving members of a space exploration team, one of whom has been outside the ship orbiting a planet they are studying. He claims that birds are nesting inside of him, that humans are the trees the birds have been waiting for. There is no evidence of birds, and his fellow team members believe he suffers from hallucinations and pull him in. But then birds start showing up inside the ship, and it seems that perhaps they weren’t hallucinations after all.
This was another story I had to read twice to appreciate. It is an intriguing story, and I do recommend it; however, I wish the ending had a little more punch. It’s still a definite recommend. Mr. Wolfe’s imagery is beautiful. My favorite part is when the infected character says, “They’re nesting in me, all the beautiful birds. Perching on nerve fibers, sipping from tiny veins, Ena. Fluttering and singing. This is how a tree feels in summer.” It’s this kind of language that makes me swoon like a fan girl, I tell ya.