Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Diverse Shorts

Welcome to A More Diverse Universe! Check out the link for a description of the event and tons of reviews from other bloggers.  Thanks again, Aarti!

Today in the Diversiverse, a round up of short pieces.  Not all these authors are brand new to me, but many are, and they're all stories that I specifically came across thanks to the More Diverse Universe blogging event.

The Song of the Body Cartographer is by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who is participating in a round table at The Book Smugglers this week. (The link is to the story, free on the blog Philippine Genre Stories, which is seriously worth checking out.) A girl who is supposed to be able to fly--who should have been born compatible with a symbiotic windbeast--is inexplicably earthbound, and it's the job of Siren, the body cartographer, to figure out why.  The story is very short, and there is a very sweet sadness to it.

Creaciondelas Aves, Remedios Varo

It was a bit more worldbuilding than I think such a short piece could manage, though, and I walked away after two readings still a bit confused about how Inyanna's disability could be a political liability, and about what a Timor'an might be, in relation to a Qa'ta.  The second time through, when I knew enough to know what I could gloss over and what I should understand, the emotional center of the story packed more of a punch, because I knew what information I was looking for; I understood that Siren and Inyanna were lovers.

What I really want, though, is a bigger bite of this world.  I want to know what the Matriarchy is up against in the political wranglings with the Patriarchy, and I really want to know the results of Siren's research.  I hope and assume that Loenen-Ruiz is working on that for me.

I read my first Tananarive Due novel, My Soul to Keep, for Diversiverse two years ago, and when another blogger, Chrisbookarama, posted about her story "The Lake," I was excited to get a chance to squeeze another dose of her in this week.

A short story is so different from a novel, and when you don't read many of them, it can be surprising how efficiently a good author can present their story.  This one takes full advantage of a viewpoint character who might be just a bit unreliable. She's a teacher who's left her life in Boston for a new job and home and life on a swampy lake in northern Florida. 

At first, some of Abbie's offhand comments might be a little sketchy--high school boys will help her out around the house.  Then we get some hint that perhaps there is something more sinister in her past.  But I think my favorite part is how she reacts when things start getting weird; the character and the setting blend together to form a perfect weird storm.  A quick read; definitely worth it.

Finally, I read "The Sultana's Dream," by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein (again, the link goes to the free online story, this time at UPenn Digital Library), another story I found through a Diversiverse post, this one from Based on a True Story.  "The Sultana's Dream" was written in 1905 and was originally published in The Indian Ladies' Magazine, which I think tells you a lot about its intended audience. 

The story reminded me of nothing so much as Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, a novel that is all about demonstrating how well an all-female society would run without men.  The Sultana falls asleep and tells how she was taken by a friend to a country where men are cloistered and women conduct all the trade; there are scientific advancements and no poverty or crime.  It's not a particularly profound story--the idea that all society's ills are caused by men is quite simplistic.  But if you think of it from the point of view of a woman reading it from within the hidden women's part of the house in 1905, you can imagine how strange and promising and freeing even the idea would be.  It's a fascinating historical document.

That's the round up for today!  We're coming to the end of A More Diverse Universe, and my to-read pile has grown faster than I can keep up with it (as usual).  I could use another week to review all the things I've started since this began! 

1 comment:

Aarti said...

Ohmigosh, I love that you were so pro-active in reading more diverse reads within the period of Diversiverse itself! All these authors sound fantastic, but I think Due is the one I'm most likely to try - Chris convinced me, too :-)