writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: short story (Page 2 of 15)

“Syringe” by Isabel Yap

A dying woman is cared for by AI nurses, who are programmed for compassion but not too much.

This is a short, sad story about the limits of technology: Merlie’s Nurses™ are very kind and efficient, and are certainly offering the best care, but both Merlie and the Nurses™ know that there’s a deep chasm that even the best AI cannot bridge. “There are no algorithms for sadness, anyway.”

“The Balloon” by Benjamin Percy

Two stories in a horrific pandemic – one a woman who is apparently immune to the disease that is killing her neighbors, one a police officer who is afraid of everything – are drawn together in a contingently hopeful conclusion.

The pandemic in this story is worse than the real one we’ve faced over the last two years – infection seems almost guaranteed to be fatal, and the social effects are even more stark than in our own dyspeptic age – but there are certainly things about it that ring true: the isolation, the fear, the blame.

“Familiar” by China Miéville

A creature made from a witch’s flesh and bodily fluids is rejected by its creator and roams the city learning and consuming and growing in terrible and grotesque ways.

This story is quite squelchy, obscene, and disgusting, and also fascinating and magical; the grotesque creature and its world are evocative of a rich mythology only just hinted at.

“Video Nasty” by Philip Pullman

Three friends rent a notorious video tape and are joined by a strange fourth boy, who proves far scarier than anything they can see on the television.

This is a short, sharp, and genuinely scary little story, both horrifying and poignant, as the best ghost stories always are. I’m certainly in the same demographic as these three young teens in the early ’80s seeking some video thrills (“Faces of Death” and “Mondo Cane” were about as extreme as we got), and I can certainly picture myself in a similar predicament if I’d had the opportunity.

“Heart of a Bear” by Benjamin Percy

After observing a human family, a bear takes up a life of crime (and angst) upon adopting the baby after eating its parents.

This starts off as a bit of a lighthearted romp with a few moments of darkness, and becomes an extremely dark tale of grief and pain. Poor bear, he really did try.

“Dragon Song” by Maria Haskins

A Viking who fought Grendel’s mother beside Beowulf searches for her own kidnapped son.

Haskins weaves together Viking and related stories with a few interesting twists; an elegiac mood hangs over this story, with the twilight of an era clearly on the horizon.

“Down to Niflhel Deep” by Maria Haskins

A dog takes a perilous journey into the underworld in search of a lost girl.

This is the second of Haskins’ stories I’ve read from this collection that have a dog as the central character, and she does a good job of inhabiting canine consciousness. It’s a solid story with some interesting embellishments on Norse and Greek mythology and a quite scary Queen of the underworld.

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