Short story “Rocket Surgery” by Effie Seiberg was originally published in n Analog, 2016. Its audio edition can be found now on Escape Pod’s episode 588 on the 10th of August 2017. Summary: A military team trains an A.I. rocket how to eliminate the enemy by choosing the best path through a series of simulations. But something goes wrong and the narrator ends up in prison. Analysis: The narrator is a member of the military team, now locked up in prison. The reader wants to know why the narrator is in prison and what happened to the A.I.. The names of either the country of the dictator or the names of the rockets add an extra quirkiness to the story. This fact helped us understand that this story is more about the interaction of the A.I. with its teacher than about the hardware / software mechanics behind the A.I. The plot is revealed slowly by showing how the AI is trained until it has an existential crisis. The story uses also a repetitive set of questions and answers which are used for the final spin successfully.
The short story “Barrette Girls” by Sara Saab was published on the 3rd issue of liminal stories on spring / summer 2017. Synopsis: In “Barrette Girls”, Sunday with the help of Andrew guides a group of girls to a secret destination. Andrew has second thoughts about what they are doing while Sunday is remembering her past relationships. Analysis: Sara Saab reveals gradually the nature of the characters’ lives. We enter a future world which would be described as a utopia by the oblivious observer. But what happens behind the curtains of this world paints a grim picture of our future civilization. How long will the staff reason with their consciousness? Sunday learns to get used to it. As people are used to it nowadays but that doesn’t mean that the process wouldn’t have an impact in an unconscious psychological level. Or in a level that we don’t want to acknowledge and maybe see only in our nightmares. That’s how the author tricks us and take us by the hand as Sunday takes the girls by their hand and we can only be suspicious of what’s going on until it’s too late. A sense of unfamiliarity and uneasiness underlines the story…
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong was published on March 2, 2016 by Tor.com and is nominated for the Hugo 2017 award. Summary: Hannah, the one of the two witch sisters that can control weather and bend time, tries to change the outcome of her sister’s suicidal attempt by creating alternate timelines. Analysis: The two main subjects discussed in this story is transgenderism and grief. Alyssa Wong writes about a transgender woman that was never accepted by her parents. The only thing that Melanie has is her sister but after a while she decides to end her life. However, Hannah cannot give up on her and creates new timelines where tries to save her (even sometimes by sacrificing herself) fruitlessly. In these new timelines we learn more about their relationship and their abusive parents. Although these timelines provoke a lot of strong emotions they feel at some points repetitive and make the readers raise some questions by themselves on how this could be avoided.
A review for “The Heart’s Cartography by Susan Jane Bigelow”, which is published in Lightspeed’s magazine May 2017 (Issue 84) Summary: A girl in a boy’s body meets a family of time-travelers. She is in a small town and it’s the first time that she feels accepted when she meets the family’s young girl. Soon they become best friends, but she learns that they would need to leave again for a different time-line. Analysis: This is a story that looks from a point of view of a girl that was born with a boy’s body. She doesn’t face major issues with the people around her as she would have in an older era but still she feels that they not see her as normal. The time-travelers’ daughter comes as a big a relief and solace for how she feels. She can now see things with more optimism. Have some handkerchiefs near you because you will need them!
This is the review for the short story “Remote Presence” by Susan Palwick published at the Lightspeed magazine’s April 2017 issue. Synopsis: Chaplin Win’s job in the hospital is to help ghosts leave our world. However, he finds trouble when he stalls the exorcism of a kind elderly ghost. Pros: + Heart-warming emotions. + The kind ghost + Very close to real life, human beings working in tiring real jobs
We read the shorty story by Robert Reed “Two Ways of Living” in the Clarkesworld’s ISSUE 126, March 2017 The main idea of this story may be about a man hibernating to a future with better star-travelling conditions but what attracts our interest is the dog. A dog that has attached an AI on his collar thus making him able to communicate with the humans. Don’t we always wonder what our pets would tell us if they had they way to talk to us? As the main character sleeps and wakes after a couple of years each time he meets a lady who causes him only trouble but her friend the dog in the mean time evolves by using technology into a speaking being. Pros: + The dog Cons: – Not much going on apart from the sleeper’s interaction with the dog. But for the story’s size is acceptable.
Interchange by Gary Kloster is published in Clarkesworld’s January 2017 124 Issue Summary: Workers are building a highway interchange in an anti-time dome. They work for 6 months and not a minute change outside. Meanwhile the doctor has an android assistant which is identical to her late husband. But you know what they say, when you play with time… Pros: + A unique story. Usually we manipulate time in stories the other way around. But in this story is in reverse. Moreover, the plot evolves into a suspenseful mystery. + The android. The android’s point of view also helps us to look at more sides of the other characters. Cons: – Some of the characters emotions seem too extreme, a background story would be useful.(Like the doctor’s) – Doesn’t the ending create a time paradox?
“There Used to Be Olive Trees” by Rich Larson is published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction‘s January/February 2017 issue Summary: In post-apocalyptic Spain, our hero is trying to prove his town that is a prophet. And by prophet we mean being able to speak to the AI gods with the means of a rare artificial implant. To do that he escapes the town’s fortress but he faces a dangerous wilder. Another man who is trying to save his people. Remarks: Pros: + Great world-building. We see an after world with two different types of human towns and also the AIs. + Concise dialogue between the characters, resulting to an unexpected bonding. + The action, described in a great way holding you at the edge of your chair. Cons: – The story ends suddenly. Would like to see the consequences of their decisions.
A review for “Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities” by Lettie Prell published and narrated in Clarkesworld’s January 2016 issue Summary: Cole is ready to face the justice system for the crimes that he committed. As he is entering the court room he will travel through various parallel worlds with their own unique justice systems. Pros: + Some very interesting ideas on justice + humor + feels like a twilight story Cons: – A simple demonstration of lots of justice systems.
A review for the short story “When They Come Back” by Natalia Theodoridou First published in Crossed Genres‘s issue 22: Robots, Androids & Cyborgs (October 2014) Narrated by Ibba Armancas in EscapePod’s November 2016’s podcast Summary: Men are long gone, and the only thing left are robots and angel-like creatures who are still searching for humans. A robot befriends an angel while looking for his lover. This is an abstract story that gives bit by bit any information about a meta-apocalyptic world where android-like robots have survived. We don’t know exactly what are the angels, but apart from their fluid-shape-changing ability, we know that were faithful companion to men. Friendship, loss, grief, hope are examined through this Natalia’s work. Pros: + lyrical writing which suits the story well + various themes examined based on loss + imaginative world building, including the angel-like creatures Cons: – The story’s abstractness due to its short form make us ask lots of questions (although this can have a positive side-effect since it will stick in our mind for a longer time while pondering it)