Ray (raycun) wrote,

Short fiction

not full reviews, just reminders for myself of things I might nominate

Hic Sunt Monstra, by Brian Trent
The ice hanging outside my bedroom window was turning into a colossus. I could see the start of one tusk curling from the glassy dome of a head-crest, and what resembled a clawed forefoot, half-formed, stretching down from the icy mass on our roof.

Accidental colonists relive the last hunt of the native megafauna...

Sacred Cows: Death and Squalor on the Rio Grande, by A S Diev

At 7 a.m. on a bright Thursday morning last June, in the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, 40-year-old Carlos Flores completed a week of double shifts at the shoe factory where he sometimes worked. He drove his rusted, powder blue Ford pickup a quarter mile through cinderblock neighborhoods to the Diosa Del Amor liquor store. There he purchased a carton of smokes, a 12-pack of beer, and a half pint of vodka. According to the police report, he drank one of the beers and all of the vodka while driving home. He pulled into the Rio Vista trailer park and waved to little Esperanza Delgado, who was walking along the dirt street in her school uniform and backpack.

Genetic engineering, gonzo journalism, rich people

Midnight Hour, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Nameless Queen sipped her port, rolling the blood–dark liquid in her mouth. The night’s rain pattered against the tall leaded glass windows of her sitting room in a gentle susurration. On the mantel, the clock ticked four minutes until midnight.
Cursed king and queen, and an attempt to break the curse

Madeleine, by Amal El Mohtar
Madeleine remembers being a different person.

It strikes her when she’s driving, threading her way through farmland, homesteads, facing down the mountains around which the road winds. She remembers being thrilled at the thought of travel, of the self she would discover over the hills and far away. She remembers laughing with friends, looking forward to things, to a future.

Clinical trial of anti-alzheimers drug causes flashbacks

Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer
I don’t want to be evil.
I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct; there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)

AI explains

Pocosin, by Ursula Vernon
This is the place of the carnivores, the pool ringed with sundews and the fat funnels of the pitcher plants.
This is the place where the ground never dries out and the loblolly pines grow stunted, where the soil is poor and the plants turn to other means of feeding themselves.
This is the place where the hairstreak butterflies flow sleekly through the air and you can hear insect feet drumming inside the bowl of the pitcher plants.
This is the place where the old god came to die.

the witch, the dying god, the angel and the devil

Damage, by David Levine
I never had a name.

My designation was JB6847½, and Specialist Toman called me “Scraps.” But Commander Ziegler—dear Commander Ziegler, primary of my orbit and engine of my trajectory—never addressed me by any name, only delivering orders in that crisp magnificent tenor of his, and so I did not consider myself to have one.

That designation, with the anomalous one-half symbol, was a bit of black humor on Specialist Toman’s part. It was the arithmetic average of NA6621 and FC7074, the two wrecked craft which had been salvaged and cobbled together to create me. “There wasn’t enough left of either spaceframe for any kind of paperwork continuity,” she had told me not long after I came to consciousness, three weeks earlier, “so I figured I’d give you a new number. Not that anyone cares much about paperwork these days.”

tempting to see this as a response to Turncoat on the famously bad 2015 shortlist, but I don't think the dates work. Spaceship AI grows to doubt the morality of the war she is fighting
Tags: hugos, short fiction

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