This week’s reading adventures led to the discovery of a great new fiction resource:  Free SF Reader:  Free Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. The site is run by Blue Tyson, who also runs the site Free SF – Not Free SF MegaBlog.  I can’t even fathom the amount of time and effort this man has put into this fantastic compilation of speculative fiction.  This is why SF fans rock!  This should keep me busy for a while. 🙂

This week’s reading list:

34.  “The Excision,” by Nicole M. Taylor (Brain Harvest)

A haunting little gem of flash fiction.  The metaphor is wrapped up quite nicely in the last two lines.

35.  “Make-Believe” by Michael Reaves (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Mar/Apr 2010)

First of all, I really enjoyed this.  I thought the story the protagonist was telling was exciting.  I mean, come on…three young boys out in the desert in 1955, armed only with plastic guns, near a cave sealed with dynamite after boys not unlike them disappeared a generation ago?  What’s not to like?  I love these nostalgic sorts of stories where the author is waxing nostalgic on this time in history.  Something about that era, a sort of innocence.

Though the core story was riveting and frightening, I did question the context in which the protagonist shared this story.  It was such a traumatic and horrifying experience that it seemed unseemly and a little out of character to be sharing it in an Outstanding Alumnus speech.  That said, I still recommend the read.  It’s a great ghost tale.

36.  “The Fairy Princess” by Dennis Danvers (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Mar/Apr 2010)

Set in a near-empty sex-bot factory on Christmas with a protagonist so determinedly neutral — and therefore, uninvested in anything in her life — I didn’t think this story would have the emotional impact it did on me.  It was understated in a very sneaky way.  I loved it!  Danvers’ language is so wonderful I had to get out the old highlighter.  “He’s got eyes like a Sunday school Jesus.”  I think Danvers’ sex-bot characters made for a kinder, more forgiving mirror of humanity:  “I think I may like humans better than you do.”

Unfortunately, this story isn’t available free online, but if you’re interested in buying it, an electronic or a physical copy, you can do that here.

37.  “The Elephants of Poznan” by Orson Scott Card (Lightspeed Magazine)

I give this story a very hearty thumbs-up.  Go read it.  This is a prime example of what a solid story looks like in the hands of someone as experienced as Card.  Though the beginning was a wee bit slow for my taste, the concept is original, the emotional tension is well done — just a very good story.

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