Not Like Anything I’ve Recently Read

Tue 28 Aug 2018 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Locus science fiction magazine July 2018Rich Horton included a couple of stories from this spring’s LCRW 37 in a recent short fiction roundup in Locus and since the reviews are now online I’ve reprinted them here because the stories are excellent and should be widely read. As I went to find Maria Romasco Moore’s twitter ID to tag her in the review I saw on her website that besides her fantastically titled forthcoming chapbook from Rose Metal Press, Ghostographs, this summer she sold her debut novel, congratulations, Maria!

Someone on twitter recently asked if we publish novellas and I answered that we sometimes do in LCRW — although if asked in person I usually add something to indicate that  a novella has to be as good as as 2-3 short stories. James Sallis’s “Dayenu” is. Last night I was looking at one of Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Bests Science Fiction and I very selfishly missed him again thinking that this was a story he would have enjoyed. It’s funny how much one person’s reading can influence so many others. Ach. Anyway, here are the reviews:

Dying Light” by Maria Romasco Moore (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, March) is a strong story set on a starship carrying passengers in suspended animation, heading to a newly colonized world. The passengers live in “the light”, a virtual environment, to keep them mentally sharp. The narrator, Ruth, is worried about her wife, Mag, who has become self-destructive – an odd thing in the “light”, where one can do what they want to their virtual bodies without necessarily affecting their “real” body. The real problem is Ruth and Mag’s relationship, which the story foregrounds. It’s well enough executed, but what intrigued me was the backgrounded SFnal aspects – the “light” and how it works, the hints about the state of Earth society and how that affects the colony’s prospects. Neat stuff, even if I’m not quite sure I read it the way the writer intended.

Even better is a remarkable long story by James Sallis, “Dayenu“. It opens with the narrator doing an unspecified but apparently criminal job, and then fleeing the house he was squatting in, and meeting an old contact for a new identity. Seems like a crime story – and Sallis is primarily a crime novelist – but details of unfamiliarity mount, from the pervasive surveillance, to a changed geography, to the realiza­tion that the rehab stint the narrator mentioned right at the start was a rather more extensive rehab than we might have thought. Memories of wartime service are detailed, and two partners in particular – a woman named Fran or Molly, a man named Merrit Li. Page by page the story seems odder, and the destination less expected. The prose is a pleasure, too – with desolate rhythms and striking images. Quite a work, and not like anything I’ve recently read.