- “Mountaineering” by Leah Bobet, Strange Horizons, September 10, 2018 (short story)
- “The Congress” by Dave Kavanaugh, Nature, September 12, 2018 (science fiction short story)
- “Ancestor Night” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #260, September 13, 2018 (fantasy short story)
- “It’s Easy to Shoot a Dog” by Maria Haskins, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #260, September 13, 2018 (fantasy short story)
- “Con Con” by Russell Nichols, Terraform, September 14, 2018 (science fiction short story)
[Still hanging on despite Florence, so here’s a quick “Wrap-Up” of this light (<12,000 words) week.]
In science fiction, it’s satirical con week! “The Congress” involves the sole incoming Interplanetary Congressperson showing up for work, learning an impossibly kept secret, and facing a hard choice. It’s obviously extremely contrived but, beyond that, few will approve of or even believe her choice as depicted. An arsonist can’t get a job at the “Con Con” (convict convention) as a “pop-up adman” with a “PR chip,” which means he’ll be sent back to “corporate” prison. Will an encounter with his cellmate, the identity thief, improve matters? The arsonist’s desperation and the plot’s viciousness are done well enough but the milieu is vague, the epilogue weak, and, as a literal character, the protagonist isn’t appealing.
In fantasy, it’s “inconclusive sibling stories” week! “Mountaineering” is an essentially mainstream piece which depicts a surviving sibling, who’s grown up worshiping polar/mountain/explorer types and a deceased sibling, climbing a mountain while interacting with that sibling in a way that’s easily taken as psychological. The BCS stories are better, if not remarkable. “Ancestor Night” involves a group of siblings going to a ritual which involves interacting with their dead parents who are now located under a presumably perpetually frozen lake. The eldest sibling learns something shocking about his favorite sibling and makes a severe psychological adjustment. “Shoot” involves a sister wanting a dog and being followed by her younger brother while she searches for one. She finds a witch and makes a deal to get her dog but, when it comes time to make good on her end of the bargain, she has other plans. This has one extremely problematic protagonist along with a problematic “ending.”