New story online (at last)! ‘Sixty Years in the Women’s Province’ is up at GigaNotoSaurus. It’s a novelette, clocking in at around 9,200 words, making this the longest story I have written since the days I wrote things that went way over 10,000. I’m especially happy about this one since it’s markedly different from my usual: it’s fantasy (with a touch of portal?) and is a domestic slice of life, meaning this may be the closest I’ve ever come to writing literary fiction! The ‘sixty years’ is very literal – the story covers sixty years of a woman’s life with her family, a demon who goes in and out of her life, from youth to old age to mortality. No cheating this time, because the human characters are all ordinary, not augmented far-future soldiers, so sixty years is actually long, and by the end of it they’re actually old, pushing eighty. Beekeeping! Sherbets! A women’s country where they get pregnant by drinking water from a special river, and only girls are born. You may recognize this place. It’s a specific one, and doesn’t have much to do with the tradition of Russ or other older SF in women-only worlds.
(It’s from Journey to the West).
Leaning into Yingzhi’s shoulder she murmurs nonsense into her wife’s neck, and when they’ve found the place Yingzhi wanted her to see they spread out a blanket. They unbutton each other eager as newlyweds, and Xiaoli forgets what it is to feel forty-four, what it is to wake up to aching joints and a stiff back. She looks up at Yingzhi framed by grass and catkins, the hard strength of her delineated by greened sunlight, and knows herself to be the most fortunate woman born in the worlds that are and the worlds yet not.
Because I was strict about the timeline, this was a story where I had to keep careful track of the count of years, the ages of characters, and on. Some of them still might not add up, though. Erm. That’ll teach me to not do *that* again.
Speaking of novelettes, ‘Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods’ other than making an appearance in World SF 3 has also been reprinted in the July 2014 issue of Apex – all 11,200 words of it! Meantime, Vajra let me know that some of my 2013 stories made the honorable mentions in Dozois’s year’s best; so I went to check. Proof that I didn’t hallucinate! (Or did I?)
Which is most of my SF from last year! Yay! Some of my favorite people also included in the list: Vajra Chandrasekera for ‘Pockets Full of Stones’, Seth J. Dickinson for ‘Never Dreaming (In Four Burns)’, Karin Tidbeck for ‘Sing’ and ‘A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain’, Kameron Hurley for ‘Enyo-Enyo’, Aliette de Bodard for ‘The Angel at the Heart of the Rain’ and ‘The Weight of a Blessing’, E. Catherine Tobler for ‘Grandmother of Ghosts’ and lots more. (I’m being a bit lazy, but I think I also spotted Rahul Kanakia, Indrapamit Das, and Priya Sharma too). I’m also pleased that there were kind nods for Clarkesworld, Clockwork Phoenix 4 (and many CP4 stories also made honorables!), and We See a Different Frontier.
Some recent reading, to start July off!
‘The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced’ by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, 2014). Quiet and gently wrenching flash. I’m terrible at writing quiet stories, so I’m very glad when other people do it so I can enjoy them! *selfish* I joked about this with Sarah, which turned into this tweet.
That then got retweeted lots, to my confusion.
‘Communion’ by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Clarkesworld, 2014). A quiet story, but we all need more quiet SF, I think – specifically this has to do with the aftermath of violence, crossing a cultural gulf, and the all-important question of genetic modification for the next generation. I wish the matchmaker concept could have been explored more, though, but it’s altogether a very interesting story.
‘The Madwoman of Igbobi Hospital’ by Tade Thompson (Interfictions, 2014). A ghost story, of sorts! I was going to say it’s a list story, but it’s not, I don’t think? More that it’s told in short sections. There are little turns of phrase I really liked, like ‘a congregation of coughs’.