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Posts Tagged ‘free in audio’

“Kin”, by Bruce McAllister

“Kin” is a 2006 science fiction short story by Bruce McAllister.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2007.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Kin” is the story of a young boy whose mother is pregnant, but the Bureau of Population Control has decreed that his unborn sister is to be terminated.  The boy doesn’t want this to happen. . . so he tries to hire an alien assassin to kill the man who made the decision.  But he doesn’t have enough money for the fee.

Why should you read it?

I will now invoke Campbell… halfway.  The Antalou assassin is very much an alien that thinks like a person, but instead of coming from our culture, he comes from a completely different one.  And instead of coming from our biology, he comes from one that has equipped him to be able to take the door off of a personal helicopter with his talons.

And he’s faced with a boy he feels sympathy for, but who doesn’t have enough money to pay for his services.  The services he wants to render.  So he gets creative.  But not lethal.

I like this story enough that I had read it early in the Hugo Project, in McAllister’s collection, The Girl Who Loved Animals, but chose to listen to it, as well, to hear Steve Eley’s narration and experience the story again before writing this review.  This one is simple and clear, but very enjoyable.

Where to find “Kin”

E scape Pod has a wonderful audio version.

“Down Memory Lane”, by Mike Resnick

June 26, 2013 2 comments

“Down Memory Lane” is a 2005 science fiction short story by Mike Resnick.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2006.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Down Memory Lane” is the story of a man losing his wife to Alzheimer’s, and the lengths to which he’s willing to go to help her.

Why should you read it?

For the first time in this blog, I’m going to tell you that I’m not the person to tell you why you should read this story.  It’s well written, as every Resnick piece is.  However, as someone who lost his father to Huntington’s Disease and is dealing with my mother losing parts of her memory at this very moment, I almost never enjoy stories about mental degeneration.  And this blog is about telling you what I love.

I don’t love this story.  It’s very well done, but it was no fun at all for me.  If you want to a recommendation, let the bulk of Resnick’s work make it, and perhaps read some or all of the other pieces of his I’m going to recommend here, or have.  But I can’t recommend this one, even though it may deserve it.  I just can’t do it.

Where to find “Down Memory Lane”

E scape Pod has a well acted version of “Down Memory Lane” in audio.

“Think Like A Dinosaur”, by James Patrick Kelly

February 28, 2013 2 comments

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is a 1995 science fiction novelette by James Patrick Kelly.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1996, and won.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Think Like A Dinosaur” is the story of a man who is helping a woman through the difficult process of teleporting to the stars, and the conflict between his humanity and the . . . dinosaurity of the aliens who actually control this gateway to the universe.  And they haven’t decided it we should have it yet, because we don’t think like them.

Why should you read it?

The old Campbell chestnut: “Write me an alien who thinks as well as a man, but not like a man.”  What if the price for humanity joining aliens in the stars. . . is thinking like them?  What do we give up by changing ourselves to match the way they think?  Would it be an individual decision?  An offer that can be accepted by one person alone?  Or would it be forced on the unwary by others?  And what’s left of the core of humanity inside a person once they’ve looked at this change?

This is an amazingly good story that I am hampered in recommending because I can’t answer any of these questions for you.  If you can, read it.  I have rated over a thousand stories in my database; this got the thirteenth 10 out of 10.

Where to find “Think Like a Dinosaur”

There is no free online version. [UPDATE: there is!  It’s at Mike Resnick’s new Galaxy’s Edge!]  The story can be found in several anthologies.  There is an audio version available online, which I have not listened to.

“Movement”, by Nancy Fulda

“Movement” is a 2011 science fiction short story by Nancy Fulda.  It has been nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2012.

Non-Spoiler Summary

A young girl with an interesting variant of autism has to guide her parents in choosing whether or not to try a procedure that could “fix” her, at the possible cost of who she is.

Why should you read it?

Who are you?  What makes you, you?  How much could you give up without ceasing to be you, or ceasing to be?  Is the pain in your life so great that you’d rather not be the person you are?  If the thing that makes you different from everyone else also makes you . . . different from everyone else. . . is that a bad thing?

I have pain in my life, in my past.  It’s shaped me, in very large ways.  The difference between me and Hannah, this story’s autist, is that my pain is mostly done with, or is at least something I can get around in the moment.  Hannah’s. . . is not.  It is present in every moment of her life.  And she really does have to decide whether that difference is worth preserving or not, because normalcy may have a price.

Where to find “Movement”

The author has generously allowed us to read it online, and Escape Pod has an audio version.

“Always”, by Karen Joy Fowler

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

“Always” is a 2007 science fiction short story by Karen Joy Fowler.  A woman details her time with a group of supposed immortals, following a charismatic leader.  It won the Nebula for Best Short Story in 2007.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Our viewpoint character, a young woman, moves to the city of Always with her boyfriend.  In Always, run by Brother Porter, everyone is immortal.  Supposedly.  The issue is left open, although there’s evidence that she is being deceived.  However, the effect of the city (cult) on people is very real.

Why should you read it?

“Always” handles the question of whether or not the immortality of the people of Always is real quite gently, and leads you to believe . . . that even if she’s not immortal, she’s been positively changed by the experience of living in Always.  The story follows her progression from basically infatuated with her boyfriend through an almost ethereal translation.

Where to find “Always”

The story was originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, where you can still read it online.  There is also audio.

“Perfect Lies”, by Gwendolyn Clare

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

“Perfect Lies” is a 2011 science fiction short story by Gwendolyn Clare.  A woman who naturally expresses no visible emotion is the human trade representative to the Mask People, for whom every thought is expressed on the face.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Nora is a very special trade representative in negotiations with the Mask People.  You see, they have a culture of “teeming emotions”, feelings expressed through enormous faces covered in fine appendages that they use to communicate.  They are very sensitive to visible, uncontrolled emotion.  Nora is special, in that she doesn’t natively express her emotions–for her, they’re a learned skill.  In some ways, this is a story about negotiations between three sides: Humanity, the Mask People, and Nora herself.

Why should you read it?

“Perfect Lies” is an example of two of my favorite kinds of science fiction stories. The first is the outsider-on-behalf-of-humanity–stories ranging from Silverberg’s The Man in the Maze to Ender’s Game have portrayed the one exceptional person working on behalf of the mass of our race.  The other is one-change story.  The bulk of this story isn’t about high technology or large changes in how humans live–it’s about Nora’s one difference from us, and how that makes her relationship to the Mask People different from everyone else’s.

Where to find “Perfect Lies”

The story was originally published in Clarkesworld Magazine, where you can still read it online.  There is also audio.

“Ghosts of New York”, by Jennifer Pelland

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Warning: This story is not appropriate for children.  It is not fun.  It may offend you, that I chose to list it at all, or that I chose to list it today.  But it helped me get ready for today, and I thought some of you might not know about it.

“Ghosts of New York”, as I’m sure you can guess, is a story about the fallout of 9/11.  The story, particularly, of the ghosts that it left behind.  Literal ghosts–not ghosts as in the images of destruction that every one of us over fifteen can call up, but haunts.  The spectral remainders of the people who jumped.

There are no answers in this story.  For one thing, it has a severe weak point, in that it never explains why only jumpers become ghosts.  It doesn’t solve, salve, or soften 9/11.

It does remind me of the feelings that I had on that day.  It doesn’t make me experience them again, but it removes enough of the scab to remind me that tragedy and death, however horrible, are part of the flow of history and our lives.  This isn’t the first time New York has had a disaster.  It won’t be the last.

Please, let it be the last time it’s deliberate, though.

Text: Available courtesy of Apex Publications
Audio: Podcastle 153