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Archive for April, 2012

“The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, by John Scalzi

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

“The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” is a 2011 fantasy/humor short story by John Scalzi.  Some dragons who don’t exist are discussed by some guard and wizards, who do.  Exist, that is.  Also, leeches and science.  It has been nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2012.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Oh, god, oh, god, so funny–you have to try reading this one out loud.  The first sentence will take you ten minutes if you don’t laugh, and longer if you do, which I hope you will, because oh god funny.

This is literally an April Fool’s joke that Scalzi and Tor.com played on us.  It’s put forth as the prologue to the first volume of a trilogy of fantasy novels, but it actually is just a standalone lark of a work.  But darn it, if he could keep this up for even one book, I’d surely be there.

Why should you read it?

Did I mention the funny?  Good, because if you’re looking for deep ideas or brilliant insight into the human condition, you won’t find it here–this one is about the funny.  And leeches.

Where to find “The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”

The story was originally published at Tor.com, where it is still available.

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“The Paper Menagerie”, by Ken Liu

April 16, 2012 3 comments

“The Paper Menagerie” is a 2011 fantasy short story by Ken Liu.  A young boy, son of an American and a Chinese mail-order bride, experiences alienation and the love of his animated origami pets.  And also his mother.  It has been nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2012.

Non-Spoiler Summary

This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be making about award-nominated stories.  John Scalzi was kind enough to link to the 2012 Hugo short story nominees, which got me started on this project again.

A young boy experiences the pain of being different, in this case because his mother was a mail order bride who doesn’t speak English well.  She gives him gifts of animated origami animals, which he comes to appreciate over time.

Why should you read it?

This is a sad story.  It’s the story of one human being trying to understand another, and it’s very well done.  It’s the smallest possible conflict: one’s struggle to understand the other, but the emotions are very real and worth experiencing.

Oddly enough, this turns out to be the story recommended by Christopher Kastensmidt in the discussion thread for the previous post. . . .

Where to find “The Paper Menagerie”

The story was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which has generously allowed us to read it online.