Monday, February 8, 2010

Short Story Sunday-February 7, 2010

1.  "The Astronaut" by Brian Plante
First printing: Analog, May 2007

Brian Plante has crafted a touching story about a boy whose family moves to Texas. His only escape is watching the Mars channel. It is following the latest ship to Mars. Davy dreams of growing up to be an astronaut. Life is boring until he befriends the beautiful older woman next door. Their friendship and combined with Davy's dreams make for compelling reading. The author has tapped into the desire to be an astronaut that is experienced by many young people when they read science fiction. Most readers can remember back to their younger days when they had a crush on a grown up. The ending takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride. The best compliment I can give it is that Davy seems like a real person. Recommended. 

2.  "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" by Gene Wolfe
First printing:Orbit #7, 1970

A young boy, Tackman "Tackie" Babcock lives with his divorced mother.  Her boyfriend buys him a book called "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories".  As they prepare for a costume party the characters from the book start appearing and talking to Tackie.  The characters tip off Tackie about what is really going on in the house.

I will not reveal any more of the plot because I don't want to ruin the story for anyone who has not read it yet.  Wolfe uses a pulp story to help the boy understand the real world.  What is real in the story?  Like many of Wolfe's stories, it is open to interpretation.  I found this to be a fascinating, initially confusing, story that is well worth the effort.  Track this one down and read it.  If you like stories that spell out everything, avoid this one.  On the other hand, if you like challenging stories that make you think, this tale is highly recommended.  


Carl V. said...

Oooooo....both of those sound great. I have only read a couple of Wolfe's short stories, and his Wizard Knight series, and I've loved them all so far.

The Astronaut is particularly intriguing. It sounds like just the kind of story I enjoy. Something about your description reminds me of parts of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, a growing up story that I really enjoyed.

I read a couple of short stories from Robot Dreams over the weekend, I'll post about the collection once I'm done. I also read Asimov's latest issue, as you know from my review.

I've had such a hunger for short stories recently. I ended up buying Ian McDonald's Cyberbad Days over the weekend and added a couple more anthologies to my library queue, Ted Chiang's and another that I can't recall right now.

Jim Black said...

You are right. The Astronaut does capture the spirit of Ray Bradbury's fiction. I remember reading Ray's S is for Space and R is for Rocket in my younger days. Guess I will have to read some Bradbury for my next short story post.

So far I have a Nancy Kress story ready to review.

Carl V. said...

I've read a few Nancy Kress stories in anthologies and, as memory serves, I've enjoyed them.