writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Author: Michael Hartford (Page 3 of 33)

“The Happy Medium” by Helen Marshall

A woman acts as a medium for the dead at a theme park while dressed in a mascot costume, and delivers devastating news from beyond that is outside of the park’s guidelines.

This story is equal parts subtle satire and devastating meditation on grief and love, with some clever touches and a lot of heart.

“Haunt Me” by Gemma Files

A young medium, who has come out of an especially grueling haunting with heightened powers, intervenes with an ancient, lovelorn spirit connected to an odd museum artifact.

An interesting story of obsession and self-destruction.

“Useful Phrases” by Gene Wolfe

The owner of a bookshop finds a compelling and strange phrasebook for a mysterious language, and tries to connect with its native speakers.

This is an interesting little story of loneliness and obsession, with a few quite chilling moments. As a lover of languages, I found this particularly evocative.

“To Sunland” by Lauren Groff

A young woman on her way to college travels by bus from her small town to a home for the mentally disabled on her way to college, burning bridges as she goes.

This feels a little like a Eudora Welty or Flannery O’Connor story, with its broadly drawn Southern Gothic characters and moral ambiguity. The main character’s ruthlessness is both admirable and stunning; I think she’ll succeed. Groff definitely writes some interesting and challenging stories.

“The Cage of Sand” by J.G. Ballard

Three people live in the sand-covered ruins of a motel on Cape Kennedy, chased by wardens who are trying to contain a plant-killing Martian virus.

This is a very Ballardian story, with its modern ruins, the orbiting capsules containing dead astronauts converging nightly in the sky, and the hunted, haunted misfits.

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