Hello everyone. I'm joining the Once Upon a Time Challenge's Short Story Weekend for the first time today, and I'm going to tell you about three amazing short stories: "The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror" by Ysabeau S. Wilce, "Pip and the Fairies" by Theodora Goss, and "26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss" by Kij Johnson.
"The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror" (which I found because Memory recommended it a while ago) is about the Victorian folk hero Springheel Jack. The setting is fantastic, but my very favourite thing about it is the mock-Victorian language, which is a delight. Just take a look at the first paragraph:
Once upon a time, my little waffles, far across the pale eastern sands, a baby boy bounced from his mother's womb into a dark and dangerous world, into a land well full of hardship, turmoil, and empty handball courts. This boy, starting tiny and growing huge, would one day become a legend in the minds of his minions, a hero in the hearts of his hobbledehoys, the fanciest lad of them all: Springheel Jack!How can you not want to read further? Also, I love the formating of the .pdf. The lettering and the illustrations give it the look of a Victorian pamphlet, which somehow makes it even more fun to read. I'd tell you more about it, but with short stories it's particularly easy to say too much. So I'll just encourage you to read it instead.
Next I read "Pip and the Fairies", the reason being that Gavin recommended Theodora Goss to me yesterday, and Gavin has excellent taste. I wasn't familiar with her before, and judging by this story, I had been missing out. "Pip and the Fairies" is the story of Philippa Lawson, whose mother, Susan, wrote a series of children's books starring her as a child: Pip and the Fairies, Pip Meets the May Queen, etc.
Years later, and after her mother's passing, the now adult Phillipa can no longer remember if the books were based on stories she told her mother, or if her childhood memories come from the books. She returns to the house where the grew up, hoping the find out. "Pip and the Fairies" is a beautiful story about memory, the imagination, disappointment and loss. And it has an absolutely wonderful and very fitting ending. I won't say more than that, but if you have a few minutes to spare, read it.
I saved the best for last: "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" is my favourite of the lot. Kij Johnson is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers. In this story we meet Aimee, who runs a carnival act. Her biggest trick is making 26 monkeys disappear onstage. Except it's not really her trick: the monkeys climb into a tub and vanish without a trace. Hours later, they come back, sometime bringing little things with them. Aimee has absolutely no idea where they go, or how, or why.
This story is a perfect example of why I love fantasy so much: it takes an outwordly situation and uses it to convey emotions that are familiar to all of us. And it does it better than a realistic story ever could. Also, the writing - how could I not love a writer who comes up with sentences such as these?
Aimee has had the act for three years now. She was living in a month-by-month furnished apartment under a flight path for the Salt Lake City airport. She was hollow, as if something had chewed a hole in her body and the hole had grown infected.Or these:
Because there's always a reason for everything, isn't there? Because if there isn't a reason for even one thing, like how you can get sick, or your husband stop loving you or people you love die - then there's no reason for anything. So there must be reasons. Zeb's as good a guess as any.This story is a finalist for both the Nebula and the Hugo Awards. I hope it wins. Do yourself a favour and read it. You won't regret it.
A side note: Via Theodora Goss' website I found this link: several writers recommend YA titles for adults who still stubbornly refuse to read YA. Several books I love were recommended, including Peeps, Ursula Le Guin's brilliant Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, and Terry Pratchett's even more brilliant Tiffany Aching books.
The Tiffany Aching books were recommended by Delia Sherman, who also recommended Ysabeau S. Wilce's Flora Segunda, and actually linked the two. That + the fact that Darla D did the exact same earlier this week + Memory's enthusiasm + the story I read today = I caved and finally ordered the book. I also ordered Kij Johnson's The Fox Woman and Skelling by David Almond (I'm blaming Mariel and Nick Hornby for the last one). I had Uglies and Nick and Norah's Infine Playlist in my cart for a while, but in the end I saved them for next time. What about you? Bought any books you're particularly excited to read lately?
Now for something completely different:
No, it's not my birthday, but things mean a lot is two today. It's odd: sometimes it feels like I only started this blog yesterday; other times it feels like it's been longer, especially when I think of the friends I've made. I can't believe that two years ago I didn't know Debi or Chris yet, for example. I feel like I've known them for ages.
I love the fact that I'm still in touch with the people who commented on my very first post. But I also love the fact that I keep discovering new bloggers and making new friends. Looking back on some of my first book posts, I notice how much the way I write has changed. I think the main difference is that those early posts read a lot line reading journal entries: I was writing without keeping in mind that some of the people who would read my thoughts would not be familiar with the books in question.
Although I still think of my blog as a reading journal, I definitely do keep that in mind these days. I like the fact that I do, as it forces me to make an extra effort to put things that would go without saying if I was writing just for myself into words. And doing so makes me realize that maybe they don't go without saying after all.
Anyway: the point of this is to say thank you. Thank you for reading, whether you comment or just read, whether you're new or have been with me from the start. And to celebrate, a giveaway! Two years, two winners: one of the winners will get a book of their choice from the ones I've posted about here. The other winner will get a Mysterious Awesome Package. The contents of the package will be tailored to the winner's taste, and I'll do my best to make the Awesome Package truly awesome. Rather than have you comment here to enter, I decided to draw the winners from the comments on all my regular posts at the end of the week. This post will count, but so will everything I post between today and next friday, the 3rd of April.
Once again, thank you. This blog has become one of the most rewarding hobbies I've ever had. It's been a fun couple of years, and I hope to be around for many more.