Monday, September 1, 2014

Springy story review: "Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal

Why it springs to mind: Love! Astronauts! Oz! I love stories about older women and the authors who write them. The protagonist in this story, Elma, is 63.
Where read: Free e-book from Tor and it's online here.
Length: 8,000+ words
Summary: A retired astronaut has another chance to go into space.
Memorable: Kowal's descriptions of inner conflict ring true. And the very touching scene that leads to the observation that astronauts also wear adult diapers. The end left me in tears.
Notable: I read this just before it won the 2014 Hugo Award Winning for Best Novelette — always so delightful when a story I love is loved by others and earns recognition.
Quote:
"Because I wanted to be in the sky, weightless, and watching the impossibly bright stars. Because I didn’t want to watch Nathaniel die."
Particularly lovely: How our bonds of love for each other transcend family ties or genetic links. How we are not alone.
Personal connection: As a hospice volunteer and part of a childless couple, I found this story particularly moving. It's a wonderful layer-cake of a love story. It reminds me of one of my favorite Alice Walker poems read in college on the back page of an issue of Ms. Magazine, "My Friend, Yeshi." This part:
"Who knows
Where the newness to old life
Comes from? 
Suddenly
It appears.
Babies are caught by hands they assumed were always waiting.
Ink streaks
From the
Pen
Left dusty
On
The shelf. 
This is the true wine of astonishment: 
We are not
Over
When we think
We Are.
Pairs well withIslands by Marta Randall; Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond, an anthology edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen.
About the author: Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010). Other stories to check out include: 2009 Hugo nominee “Evil Robot Monkey” and the 2011 Hugo Award-winning “For Want of a Nail”.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Springy story review: "State Change" by Ken Liu

Why it springs to mind: You'll never look at an ice cube the same way again.
Where read: In the 2014 Hugo award-winning Lightspeed Magazine, August.
Length: 5,194 words
Summary: A woman has an ice cube for a soul.
Memorable: How the story invites us to think about the shape of our soul, how it (or our perception of it) influences us and how it changes. What ordinary every day object would your soul be? A silver spoon, a beech stick? A great party conversation starter, this.
Quote: “All life is an experiment."
Notable: The protagonist Rina is an avid reader (always a good choice).
Pairs well with: T.S. Elliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay
Origin: The story was written in 24 hours based on a writing prompt. (See Author Spotlight: Ken Liu)
About the author: Ken Liu’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty, is due out from Saga Press (a new Simon & Schuster imprint) in 2015.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A misplaced feeling of seasonal bliss; sparkling fish

Taste: a ripe blackberry by the side of the road
Sight: wall of tires; pink dusted lilacs; deer tail, rabbit tail
Sound: lowered voices, pleading voices; The Connells, "Get a Gun"; "Bingo!, Bango! Bongo!"
Touch: dripping nectarine juice, sticky hands
Smell: growing lavender; dill; nectarine
Extra: sunrise/sunset; thresholds
Grateful for: my home

Sunday, August 10, 2014

And die at the same time; the worst of it yet

Taste: iced coffee
Sight: a pink parrot, a painted fence, free books, a magical neighborhood
Sound: "To Lose My Life," White Lies; "Never Forgive," "Bi-Polar," Contempt, Assemblage 23; "Laughing in July," piano in the park
Touch: unicorn plushy
Smell: petunias and phlox; jasmine and campfire smoke
Extra: happiness, uplift, lightness;
"Range after range of mountains
Year after year after year
I am still in love." — Gary Snyder 
Grateful for: dancing

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The art of turning piranhas into Bahamas

Taste: chives
Sight: "I am Dust," Gary Numan directed by IAMX; "Atlantis" by Stephen Cooper, plantman.org
Sound: "Lithium," Nirvana; "Love Bleed Hurt," Gary Numan; "Lithium can be a miracle drug."
Touch: sobbing
Smell: skunk
Extra: a midnight craving for carrots and hummus; Pratipaksha Bhavana - the art of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones; the end of an abusive relationship
"Poor Bert, I'd say, except Bert is a freestanding catastrophe. I don't feel bad for Bert. He brought this on himself." — "Dim Sun," Maria Dahvana Headley 
Grateful for: endurance

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bright desk lunch: And raspberries were all she ate

Taste: avocado, blueberry, cocoa
Sight: neon pink, green, purple, orange and black butterfly pajamas; bumblebees on stalks of pale green flowers with purple centers; father's face folded into tears
Sound: "Keep hopeful. It’s a chore." — Margaret Atwood; mother's anguish
Touch: yoga in the park
Smell: Vampire Blood incense; a waft of patchouli in a parking lot
Extra: seeing something for the first time and discovering the unknown; discovery;
"I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes, / with fury, with forgetfulness." — Pablo Neruda
Grateful for: the globe; walking
"Walking is an indicator species for various kinds of freedoms and pleasures: free time, free and alluring space, and unhindered bodies." — Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Passion flowering in an eve under the supermoon

Taste: fennel, avocado; sweet Russian Trumpeter Imperial Stout, Skagit River Brewery
Sight: a thin white woman in a long flowing white dress skipping beneath a supermoon; a big black man carrying a glistening boa constrictor around his neck on an 86 degree day fingering the tail in one hand; Passion flower-passiflora
Sound: skateboard wheels on the sidewalk
Touch: heat-salt encrusted sweat; 88 degrees
Smell: on a hot day: licorice, sugar cone and incense
Extra: dread; uselessness of anger; an unreliable narrator; Hemmingway-esque six words: Dad walked naked into a pond.; red-haired muscular pale-skinned 20-something year old virgin; long-maned creme and beige spotted horses lying in a field of pink and white wildflowers
Grateful for: dreams

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