- The Secret Life of Bots
- A Series of Steaks
- Extracurricular Activities
- Children of Thorns
- Wind Will Rove
- Small Changes Over a Long Period of Time
My Ballot Reads:
Sarah Pinsker mixes the venerable Generation Starship trope with the complexities of change that comes to traditional folk music as it evolves and morphs just by being played and interpreted by many different folk through the generations. It is a clever parallel, and likewise mirrors the battle between tradition and change that is part of that story.
That might be doubly so on a Generation Ship which has suffered a catastrophe such as 'The Blackout', whereby sabotage robbed it of the entire database of historical and cultural records. All online history, books, art, film, video games, music and more just gone, permanently deleted, along with all means of communication with Earth. just the culture though, all the 'important' tech stuff was retained. A nice pure beginning then.
So what do they do? They try to recreate what was lost from memory. In doing so they create something that is both new, and a reflection and copy of what was surrendered. And in the process, once more rises the 'Traditionalist' versus 'History is Bunk' arguments which were perhaps the reason some zealot thought a severance from the past was justified.
Pinsker is a musician as well as a writer, and her love of playing and composing shines through the prose, which can get a bit technical at times. The image of groups of spacefarers spending their free time in extended hootenanies and folk music jams (and arguing about the correct way to play the tunes!) is a lovely and believable one. There sure are many hours to spend on the long slow journey to the stars.
The story is available to read on the author's website - http://sarahpinsker.com.hostbaby.com/files/WindWillRove_Pinsker.pdf
The story is available at Clarkesworld here -
Vina Jie-Min Prasad has a fine way with words, and this clever story is a fine example. It examines just how far the world of 3D printing might go, and just what uses to which it might be put. Well. fakes and forgeries of course.
Well, forgery is one great business opportunity. And Helena Li Yuanhui needs the opportunities. It is just that she has got in well over her head, has a past which needs covering up, and has an underworld opportunity she cannot refuse. She must print 20o plausible forged T-bone steaks. And if she does not deliver on time and to the satisfaction of the shady Mr Anonymous, well that will be just too bad.
Two Hundred forged steaks is a pretty tall order. So Helena needs an assistant. Enter Lily Yonezawa, who proves to be just what Helena needs, in a hyperactive whirlwind sort of way.
I most enjoyed the way the Prasad uses the developing relationship between the two women to reveal the tricks and pitfalls of the fake beef trade, their various backstories and motivations, and the means by which they can fulfil their obligations and secape the bind into which they have fallen. And it is all tied up in a most attractive bow. Because of course the very best forger are the ones that are never unmasked, never caught.
Available to read here - http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/palmer_09_17/
An entertaining story, told from the point of view of an obsolete bot, on an old and decrepit ship, in the midst of a last desperate attempt to defend dear old Earth from attack. As the human crew despairs of meeting it's mission objective, the intricate society of maintenance bots has other ideas, or at least a desire to do something more interesting than chasing rats! It is light and great fun to read.
Perhaps it is doing a little bit of channelling Thomas M Disch's 'Brave Little Toaster' in its examination of cooperation and inspiration by what should be expected to be dull little pieces of machinery.
'Extracurricular Activities' is a little titbit of the backstory of Shuos Jedao, a major protagonist of Yoon Ha Lee's continuing 'Machineries of Empire' series. It is certainly a less immediately immersive (and so more easily accessible) installment than 'Ninefox Gambit'. Perhaps earlier experience with sulky Kel, exotic mathematics, mutable sexuality, lots of tea, calendrical rot and heresy makes for an easier entry.
Jedao already has a formidable reputation when tasked with an undercover mission to recover a missing merchant vessel, its crew and its commander (Shuos Meng, a fellow cadet from Jedao's Academy days). Oh and he is to do a spot of spying whilst at Du Station in the Gwa Reality. A promotion is the dangled incentive for success.
A simple and light story which is a swift and easy read. The interactions between Jedao and his undercover crew reveal a few more features of the worlds of the Heptarchate before it splintered.