Two Sci-Fi Short Story Collections

I’ve read more short stories over the last year than any other year of my life so far. I am really enjoying the many ways to engage with reading. Some of the short stories were picked nearly randomly from edited collections, other times I link-hopped from one story to another on Apex Magazine’s website and found some wonderful tales along the way. I also read two short story collections from single authors. My sister gave me Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler as a gift, and I picked up Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker while I was at WorldCon.

Bloodchild contains the titular novelette, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for the year it was published. I found myself wondering whether the story portrayed love… or coercion? What would it take to allow an alien parasite to “impregnate” you? Could it be seen as beautiful, or only ever as oppression? I really liked all but one of the stories in this book, but a couple other highlights include:
– The Evening and the Morning and the Night which reminded me of the sense of obligation I felt to go into healthcare.
Speech Sounds – when the narrator describes what it felt like to lose her literacy, I thought it was exactly how I would react… Characters carry around items to represent their names. I wonder what I would use for my name symbol – a picture of Marie Antoinette or Marie Curie? Probably just a picture of Saint Mary, actually. Throughout this story, I felt so much relief with any successful human interaction and communication.
Positive Obsession – 14 moments in the author’s life that shaped her relationship with books and writing. This was enjoyable as a book lover. Also highly worthwhile reading from Butler is “The Lost Races of Science Fiction” and, as an interesting accompaniment, the story of how it was first published.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea had a few more misses for me, but also some really good hits. It opens with a story called A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide which I found evocative and weirdly heart breaking. I didn’t think you could write an effective story about someone who feels what a road is feeling, but Sarah Pinsker can. Some of the other stories that stood out to me are:
And We Were Left Darkling – I don’t think I would have identified with this story before I had a baby, but I felt it pushing hard on the “mom” part of my imaginary soul
Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea – The title story felt like another drowned-worlds story which shared a lot of characteristics with “The Past is Red”, but I felt the voice wasn’t as good and it left me feeling dry.
The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced – interesting enough that I wanted more, but I expect the concept would fall apart if it was longer than it is…
The Low Hum of Her – dark and sweet
Wind Will Rove – is knowing and loving where we come from important, or is it dangerous? I feel like this story wants to say yes, but leaves the conclusion undetermined for the reader to ponder.  
And Then There Were (N-One) – I would have been highly suspicious of attending a conference of “me”, even before reading this one!

What short stories have you enjoyed?


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