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Posts Tagged ‘free in print’

“The Fort Moxie Branch”, by Jack McDevitt

“The Fort Moxie Branch” is a 1988 science fiction short story by Jack McDevitt.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1989.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“The Fort Moxie Branch” is the story of a discouraged writer who sees a nearby house… changing.  He goes to visit and find out what happens, and it’s been turned into the Fort Moxie branch of the John of Singletary Library.  And the librarian has a very interesting offer for him….

Why should you read it?

Because it’s so full of hope.  For struggle.  For humanity.  Because the librarian makes perfectly good points that are still infuriating.

The writer is being invited to have some of his work included in the Library.  It’s a library of lost works, of books that didn’t fit their times, so they didn’t sell, or couldn’t be released, or something.  And it’s a story full of hope.

Where to find “The Fort Moxie Branch”

This story is available online from the publisher, Baen Books.

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“Maneki Neko”, by Bruce Sterling

“Maneki Neko” is a 1998 science fiction short story by Bruce Sterling.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1999.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Maneki Neko” is the story of a man who does what his phone tells him to do, the trouble he gets in, and how it gets him out.  Because his phone is connecting him to a series of other people who are all trying to do small acts for each other, to help each other out.  With computer co-ordination.

Why should you read it?

The Internet is supposedly built to route information around damage, so that the information arrives regardless of the existence of a particular node or link.  “Maneki Neko” is the story of a network of computers and humans, using themselves to route luck, good fortune, and kindness around damage to that network.  In this case, the damage comes from a law enforcement official, who doesn’t believe that people would help each other, and assumes there must be something criminal going on.

The story is thought-provoking, funny, and a little bit slapstick.  All in all, a very good quick read.

Where to find “Maneki Neko”.

This story is available at Lightspeed.

“A Walk in the Sun”, by Geoffrey A. Landis

“A Walk in the Sun” is a 1991 science fiction short story by Hal Clement.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1992.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“A Walk in the Sun” is the story of an astronaut who was supposed to get just close enough to the moon to see it. . . and then crashed.  And how she survives.

Why should you read it?

This is some good hard science fiction.  The limits placed on this character are non-negotiable.  She’s crashed on the moon.  She’s got food to eat.  She’s got a working space suit, that can recycle her air as long as she has power.  She’s got photovoltaic “wings” on her suit to generate power.  Rescue is coming in thirty days.

Now all she needs to do is stay in the light.  All the time.  For the next thirty days.

She can walk faster than the moon rotates.  On day one, anyway.

How long can she keep it up?  Long enough?

Where to find “A Walk in the Sun”.

The story is available online courtesy of Asimov’s.

“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.

“Four Short Novels”, by Joe Haldeman

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

“Four Short Novels” is a 2003 science fiction short story by Joe Haldeman.  It was nominated for the Hugo for Best Short Story of 2004.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Four Short Novels” is four pieces, condensed in the J.G. Ballard style, talking about immortality in four different futures.  What if love made you immortal?  What if money did?  What if immortality led to a desire to return to childhood?  What if if led to a desire to not be?

Why should you read it?

Haldeman is one of my favorite authors; I reread some of his works, including The Forever War, every few years.  “Four Short Novels” isn’t one of these works.  It is consistently amusing, but not something that yields wisdom on repeated examination.  Fortunately, it only takes fifteen minutes to read, so I can recommend that you spend the time unreservedly.

Where to find “Four Short Novels”

The story was recently reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine, which still has it available online.

“One Perfect Morning, With Jackals”, by Mike Resnick

January 31, 2013 1 comment

“One Perfect Morning, With Jackals” is a 1991 science fiction short story by Mike Resnick.  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1992.

Non-Spoiler Summary

Mike Resnick has written a series of stories, with the overall title of Kirinyaga.  They are stories about a group of Kikuyu–an African tribe–who have retired their civilization to an asteroid in the asteroid belt.  This story is also the preface to the fix-up novel called Kirinyaga, made up of the first eight stories from the series.

Why should you read it?

Mike Resnick is an amazing author, capable of working emotion out of robots and monsters, but I consider the Kirinyaga stories to be some of his greatest.  Koriba, the formerly Europeanized man who is about to leave for Kirinyaga, is “abandoning” his “civilization” to be the mundumugu, or witch doctor, of the Kikuyu on Kirinyaga.  His son, who is very firmly Europeanized, believes that his decision is silly and unnecessary… but is taking this opportunity to talk to him for the last time.  And give him a gift.  Of jackals.

Where to find “One Perfect Morning, With Jackals”

The publisher, Baen Books, has generously allowed us to read it online.

“Alamagoosa”, by Eric Frank Russell

January 6, 2013 Leave a comment

“Alamagoosa” is a 1955 science fiction short story by Eric Frank Russell.  On a spaceship, an inventory is being conducted, and there’s an item on the list that isn’t on the ship. . . .  It won the Hugo for Best Short Story of 1955.

Non-Spoiler Summary

“Alamagoosa” is the story of an inventory on a spaceship.  However, there’s an item on the list that’s not on the ship.  The story is a scramble for the officers of the ship to try to figure out what the item is, who’s responsible for it, and who’s going to bear the blame for it being missing.

Why should you read it?

History only, I’m afraid.  This story is, as science fiction, completely deprecated.  There’s no real science fiction here–the story is set on a spaceship, but it could just as easily been set on a sailing ship, or an airplane, in the past or in modern times.  As one of the defintions of science fiction I use is, “If you remove the science or the central conceit of technology, the story collapses”, this isn’t actually science fiction.  That said, it was a fine and enjoyable way to spend fifteen minutes.   There’s a laugh at the end.

Where to find “Alamagoosa”

The story was originally published in Analog, back when it was called Astounding.  They have generously allowed us to read it online.