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“The Cambist and Lord Iron”, by Daniel Abraham

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s Thursday, right?  Still?  I mean, I was sick for a day and a half, but I don’t remember mornings, so it’s still Thursday.  I’m sure of it.

The Cambist is a moneychanger.  He changed one currency for another, at a posted rate.

Lord Iron is a bored noble with an evil streak.  He goes in to the Cambist’s office with an unlisted currency, and points out that if the Cambist can’t change his money in a certain time period, the Cambist will lose his license.  Lord Iron does this because he’s bored, and it seems diverting to destroy the Cambist.  Hence, evil.

The Cambist does not allow himself to be destroyed.

Lord Iron does not allow himself to be put off.

The subtitle is “A Fairy Tale of Economics”.  I can not imagine another story that would deserve that subtitle.

Text of “The Cambist and Lord Iron”
Audio of “The Cambist and Lord Iron”

“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change”, by Kij Johnson

September 25, 2010 3 comments

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

I had read this story twice when I chose it to recommend.  Then I read it again, to make it fresh in my memory, to write this.

This story is told in two interlocking parts–it details the stories of the dogs in North Park, and also the Stories of the dogs in North Park.  Capital-S Stories.  Their mythology.  I had been so fascinated by this part of the story that I didn’t allow myself the full emotional impact of the actual tale of the dogs that are telling these stories.  And let me tell you, it’s a hard one.  I’m really trying not to spoil anything, but this is a very sad story, and I’m amazed that I didn’t see it the first two times through.

The Change, referred to in the title, you see, is that all domesticated animals suddenly become able to talk.  And gain the memory that comes along with speech.  But Johnson’s animals aren’t political allegory, like in Animal Farm, or even people.  They’re still dogs and cats. . . but now we know what they think of how we treat them.  And of us.

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

On a happier note, this is our first post with a “guest editor”.  You see, Kij Johnson is a very good writer, with several stories I had to choose from.  I happened to still be corresponding with Tim Pratt, who I emailed to ask his permission to link to the Wayback Machine’s copy of “Impossible Dreams”, and asked him if I should recommend this story or one of her other works, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”.  I was leaning towards this one, and Tim agreed, so I get to count him as a guest editor and still do whatever I want.

“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.  “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, and won the World Fantasy award.

This story’s text
This story’s audio

This story for sale at Amazon.com

“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” text
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” audio
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” does not appear to have been collected.

Replay, by Ken Grimwood

NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.  Includes explicit sex and great personal loss.

Replay begins with one of the lines that I remember mostly clearly of all
lines in fiction: “Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.”
And that’s the end for him; he’s quite dead.

Except he doesn’t stay dead.  The next thing he remembers, he wakes up in his
college dorm room, twenty-five years in the past, twenty-five years younger, and
remembering absolutely everything of consequence that’s going to happen in the
next twenty-five years.

Needless to say, he lives a very different life.  Wouldn’t you, if you knew the future? If you could make long odds bets. . . and win?

He lives a whole life. And then he dies again.  And wakes up.  Again. And again. And again.

Replay is about what Jeff learns to value, what he gets out of another
viewpoint on his life, and how he learns to love.  It’s not an easy book in
places–there’s a couple of scenes that always make my skin crawl.  It’s
joyously upbeat overall, however.  A book that I’ve reread any number of times
since I discovered it when it won the World Fantasy Award in 1988. It always makes me want to tell the folks that I love how much they mean to me.

Unfortunately, Grimwood never wrote anything else nearly this good.  The three
novels he wrote before Replay (Breakthrough, Elise, and The Voice Outside)
have not lasted the years since their original publication, all being out of
print for at least a decade.  His follow-up novel, Into The Deep, was vastly
better than than the first three books, but it was still only good, compared to
Replay’s greatness.

Grimwood passed away in 2003, and at the time of his death, was writing a sequel
to Replay, which it seems will not be published.  This I consider a tragedy. If it was half as good as the original, it would be well worth reading.

Buy Replay at Amazon
Buy audiobook of Replay at Amazon

Winner, World Fantasy Award for Novel, 1988