This is a strange week, as I’m in the unusual position of finding only one story to discuss (and one that is unusually recent yet, ironically, also an old review).
Drew Hayden Taylor (1962-07-01)
“Take Us To Your Chief” (Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories, 2016)
Lightly revised from 2017-01-30.
I’ll quote the opening of this story to demonstrate how quickly it got to the, um, point that it hooked me.
The men sitting on the couches in the middle of Old Man’s Point didn’t need the screeching of the cicadas to tell them how hot it was. The sweat on their foreheads and on the beer bottles gave them ample evidence. The sweat was cyclical: the more sweat on their foreheads, the more need for cold beer, which in turn became sweat in the humidity of the summer woods.
Old Man’s Point was located near the eastern shore of Otter Lake, named for an old man who used to stand on the bank and point at all the boats going by.
There follows a story very centered in place (though Otter Lake doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the Ojibway regions around the Great Lakes so I’m not sure where that place is) which yet goes pretty far afield when the alien spaceship lands. This is a first contact tale like (and unlike) many, many others but was crafted very well, paced superbly (and sedately), with an uncommonly fine (and quiet) set of protagonists, and full of the sort of quirky details which often make a story work for me.