Oltion, Valentine, Beukes

A few stories I’ve enjoyed over the last little while:

Jerry Oltion, “Taboo,” March Analog. ‘Enjoy’ is the wrong word for my overall experience of this story. Oltion makes quite a creepy and disturbing tale out of a future where a number of mundane things from today are taboo, but the reverse also applies. He presents a complicated view of the future, with heavy surveillance and endemic advertising balanced by longevity treatments (with their own brand of problematic) and other useful advances. The focus of the story is on two strangers who meet and hit it off… and its in this relationship that things got difficult, for me. I think it’s handled well – and I’m not spoiling what made things difficult! – but there’s no denying that I was troubled when trying to decide what I actually thought of the story overall. In the end I decided that the thought that went into the story, and its suggestions, certainly make it worthy of discussion.

Genevieve Valentine, “The Sandal-Bride,” Fantasy Magazine. A gentle story about learning to see beyond the exterior, the joys of learning about the world with other people, and the pain of doing what may – or may not – be the Right Thing. I really enjoyed the Arabian Nights-feel of the world, and the development of the characters.

Lauren Beukes, “Ghost Girl,” also Fantasy Magazine. Architecture and the after-life. Design and the desires of the dead…. An off-beat take on the idea of being haunted, here an architecture student is suddenly saddled with the ghost of a teenaged girl. In the midst of dealing with his final project, and a troubled girlfriend, a haunting does not exactly make Sekwa’s life any easier. This is a lovely tale of art and friendship and love and ambition and generosity. Very enjoyable.

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