Let me start off today’s entry by thanking those of you participating in the discussion of Fast Forward 1. You’ve provided some truly well-written and engaging reviews that are almost as enjoyable as the stories being critiqued. In fact, a few of you did such a terrific job that you convinced me to revisit some of the short stories that failed to impress on first reading.
Rebecca – I found it very interesting that we share 2 of our top 3 picks, yet your third choice, “The Terror Bard”, was the one entry in the anthology I had the hardest time with. But, after reading your insights, definitely one I’ll be re-reading this weekend. Like you, one of the things that really struck me about “YFL-500” was the notion of transforming something as seemingly ethereal as a dream into art. As you rightly pointed out however – as straightforward and inartistic as it may seem, it comes down to mathematical data. I also enjoyed Ian McDonald‘s “Sanjeev and Robotwallah” for its refreshingly atypical scifi exploration of another culture. I believe at least one of the author’s novels is set in India.
Susiekew – We agree that Lou’s introduction was as enjoyable, and offered as much food for thought as the stories that made up this collection. Of course this just means that he has the added pressure of topping it in the forthcoming Fast Forward 2.
Emily – Funny you should mention that new story. Although I did like “The Something Dreaming Game”, one of the things I had trouble with was the idea that a kid would pursue this kind of bizarre behavior. Then, only days after I read the story, I came across the article about the sudden rise of autoerotic asphyxiation-related deaths in teens! Shows how much I know.
Anon, good nurse – Great insight into the same story that gives me a greater appreciation for the work. You’re right. Elizabeth Bear does a wonderful job of guiding the reader with two distinctively different narrative voices. I never considered it a coming of age story although, now that you’ve proposed the possibility, I can see it. I believe Bear’s novels are more in the cyberpunk vein (Lou, correct me if I’m wrong), a sub-genre of scifi for which I, alas, have little patience. Does anyone know if she’s written any novels more along the lines of this story (again, Lou?)? Also, although I didn’t think about it while I was reading “p dolce”, it was only after I read your thoughts on the story (“The pursuit of Brahms’s exact intent for the notation p dolce was very realistic, but that kind of intense scrutiny of rather arcane academic matters [no matter what the subject] has always been tedious for me.”) that I was struck by the similarities between this story and some of Connie Willis’s work (most notably To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Doomsday Book).
Michelle – You mention being haunted by a short story you read 30+ years ago titled “The Cold Equations”. Don’t suppose you’d happen to remember the name of the writer? By the way, if you enjoyed “p dolce” for its premise of time travelers journeying back in history to acquire a better understanding of a certain period (or a hideous cast-iron urn), check out the aforementioned books by Connie Willis – To Say Nothing of the Dog if you’d prefer a more humorous ride, The Doomsday Book if you’re looking for a grimmer and grittier fare.
AMZ – Your thoughts on the nature of dreams and how they can become a source of inspiration reminded me of my writing partner who, years ago, was having vivid dreams about the scripts he was working on. Apparently, all of the problems he was having with the script would be answered in the dream. Only problem was, by the time morning came around, he’d forgotten everything. So he went to bed one night with a pen and pad on his nightstand, determined to get it all down. Again, he dreamed and, this time, he woke up and jotted the ideas down. When he woke up the following morning and checked the notepad, he was disappointed to discover that what had made perfect sense in the dream didn’t translate so logically to real world applications. My “fish investment” dream, of course, being a rare exception to the rule. Also, thank you for thinking of me while reading “Plotters and Shooters”. Baron Destructo certainly came to mind as I was reading the antics of Lord Deathlock and co.
Carol Z – I you thought “The Hour of the Sheep” was fabulous, you might enjoy Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun tetralogy. But be warned – it’s pretty easy to get lost in the labyrinth of hidden clues, cryptic hints, and subtle allusions.
GrapesofWraith – I felt the same way about “YFL-500”, all the more so because I know what Wilson is capable of when it comes to creating sympathetic, grounded characters. In all fairness, its very hard to develop complex, multi-layered characters in the short story format.
Keep your reviews coming.
By the way, in exchanging emails with editor Lou Anders, I found out that he was a freelance journalist who wrote for Dreamwatch, Doctor Who Magazine, and Sci Fi Universe before landing his present gig. He has great memories of the time he on the sets of such shows as Babylon, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. How cool is that?
A quiet day today. I wrote in the morning and then, following lunch, we all took the afternoon off to head on over to Sharpe Sound and watch Stargate: Continuum on the big screen. I really love this movie and, evidently, so did Carl who sat beside me, ooohing, aaahing, and laughing throughout the screening. It’s one of those rare productions that both rewards longtime fans of the show, but also offers a great jumping-on point for first-timers.
Oh, and early ratings for Midway had the episode pulling in the show’s second-best numbers of the season with a solid 1.33.
Today’s pics: Our afternoon field trip to Sharpe Sound – and a peek at the re-dreaded Jason Momoa.