Rigel, the erstwhile queen of Sri’Quis, one of the last planets left with a monarchy, is beginning her exile. Her son is now king and she is better off out of the way. She’s headed to the Earth-controlled planet Lough Dergh, in the company of an Earth-born bodyguard, Mary Osprey. Between Rigel’s anger at being forced into exile, and her hatred of the Earthlings who saved her once from assassination, the story opens in a mess of angst. But as Rigel’s exile draws out, and we learn more about Mary (explicitly asexual, a pro-active special agent, “There is nobody else like me.”), everything begins to change. I really liked Dr. Mary Osprey.
This story is one half of a conversation, from Lottie to her dead grandmother’s partner Maris. Ordinarily I’m not a huge fan of either monologues or 2nd-person narration, but since it was made clear from the start that I, the reader, was not the object of Lottie’s observations, these two stylistic choices didn’t bother me as much as they often do. I liked the intimate way Boswell explored the fall-out of the death of a loved one, and what we learned of Grandma Al, and I liked the ambiguity surrounding Maris. However, I did feel like the story was strong out longer than it needed to be, and that it might have been improved by tightening it up and making it tauter. Personal opinion, though.
Reading this story of perjury and how it must be punished on the night of Impeachment Eve was a poignant and strange experience. Where Pan lives, perjury is punished swiftly and sharply: you cannot lie if you have no tongue.
On the one hand, it sounds barbaric, hearkening back to a less civilised, more violent age.
On the other hand, when one sees — Trump’s America, Johnson’s Brexit — the horrific consequences of lies, it hardly sounds barbaric enough.
This is a slice of life story about a dystopian future where people get even more engrossed in technology than they already are at present. Virtual reality has taken over, and people stay plugged in for days at a time. To the extent that people have service bots that clean them, because they’re too busy being plugged into the virtual world to even bother with basic hygiene.
Martha works for one of these companies, and her life is real life. She knows the temptations of VR, and actively rejects it. It’s a bleak, allegorical story, and oddly engaging because of it.
Martha’s life, as contrasted with the lives of those who are completely into virtual reality, is much more difficult, ordinary and frustrating. An illuminating insight into the ever increasing gulf between the haves and have-nots.
I love fairy tales retold from the point of view of one of the minor characters, which mean I really enjoyed this story. Dreadfully and deliciously ghoulish, told in tight, picturesque paragraphs with clean and vivid language, there was something to like every step of the way.
Content warning: Death of a parent.
Granny Orin has been dressed in layers and left in the snow to die: Not through malice, but through the love of her son. But though Granny Orin finds her dying beautiful, nothing could have prepared her for what she meets on the bleak mountain top.
I enjoyed this Japanese-culture inspired story, and the questions it raised about how tradition chooses how we live our life, and how our traditions dictate the choices we can make — how it can make it seem like certain choices do not even exist. Lots of think about in this story.
Content warning: Infant death, death in childbirth, abortion.
The queen has died in childbirth, the king has promised that the baby, their seventh daughter, will wed the seventh son of a seventh son.
Gracie is just a peasant wife, but her husband Hector was himself a seventh son, and Gracie is pregnant again. But so many of her other children have died, and she cannot face pregnancy again — not even for the possibility that their son might wed a princess.
This was a story infused with magic, and portents, and desperation. Gracie is torn between Hector’s desires and her own quietest secret, and in the end must make an impossible decision.