Archive for February 18th, 2010
It didn’t matter that the story had begun, because kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.
Arundhati Roy, The God Of Small Things, 1997
Right, after pictures, words:
- Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
- The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi
- The City & The City by China Mieville
- The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness
- In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield
- To Kiss The Granite Choir by Michael Anthony Ashley (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
- The Push by David Hutchinson
- Vishnu At The Cat Circus by Ian McDonald (Cyberbad Nights)
- Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
- Palimpsest by Charles Stross (Wireless)
- Sinner, Baker, Fabulist Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster (Interzone)
- It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith (Eclipse 3)
- A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby by Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons)
- Black Swan by Bruce Sterling (Interzone)
- The Island by Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2)
Best Short Story
- Microcosmos by Nina Allan (Interzone)
- Hangman by Erin Cashier (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
- Turning The Apple by Tina Connolly (Strange Horizons)
- Useless Things by Maureen F McHugh (Eclipse Three)
- The Dying World by Lavie Tidhar (Clarkesworld)
John W Campbell Award
- Lauren Beukes
- Kristin Cashore
- Felix Gilman
- Nick Harkaway
- Patrick Ness
A couple go on holiday to Scotland to try and patch up their marriage which is in trouble due to an unwanted pregnancy. It is a mark of the story’s age that abortion is not even considered. Up in the Highlands they pass “farms” harvesting the view through slow glass which, as it sounds like, is glass which takes a long time for light to pass through, thus capturing the image of scenery.
This is one of the most famous SF stories ever written but I’m not really sure why. It was my first reading of the story and, although it is obvious that slow glass has struck a chord with lots of people, it is only five pages long and the sting in the tail isn’t sharp enough to pierce.
A contrary view is provided by Graham Sleight’s appreciation of the story as “restrained, perfectly constructed, and so devastatingly economical that moralising would be clangingly unnecessary”.
H&C mention a student of Samuel R Delany who mathematically proved that slow glass doesn’t work and paraphrase Delany as saying this doesn’t matter because it is “science fiction, not fact; if it did work, then the story would no longer be sf but merely literary realism”. I doubt Delany did say that because although I can guess what was really meant here H&C have mangled it so badly that it ends up saying something stupid and false. Not to mention that it shows all that talk of science in Hartwell’s introduction to be a load of old guff.