I swear, I picked these four stories at random–the only thing I thought they had in common was that I read them all this month. It was only when I started writing that I realized that they’re all about pivotal moments in their protagonists’ lives–some for good and others for more complicated. They’re all about change and how it can affect us and our experience of the world.
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex Magazine)
I really enjoyed Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™”–which feels like an understatement. It’s a really good story and there’s a reason it’s a Nebula finalist. The narrator is a Native American man working in a virtual reality tourist trap where he gives white people the Authentic Indian Experience they’ve selected from a menu. All’s going well until he strikes up a friendship with a customer after an abortive Authentic Indian experience–and then things get weirder and sadder for him. The voice in this story is really wonderful and I’m looking forward to reading more of Roanhorse’s work in the future.
“Obscura” by Yoon Ha Lee (Strange Horizons)
Yoon Ha Lee’s “Obscura” is about a young person and their odd friendship with an photographer, an older man. The young person–the narrator–is dealing with a difficult situation at home and feels adrift in the world. Their friendship with the unnamed man provides them with a constant in their life, even if they aren’t quite sure why he carries a camera that appears to be broken. The camera is an ordinary enough camera until it’s pointed at a person–and then it reveals absences. This is a strange story that I found strangely affecting in its sense of loss.
“Flow” by Marissa Lingen (Fireside Fiction)
First of all: look at that incredibly illustration! Waterhouse is one of my favorite painters, so it was delightful seeing it reimagined for Marissa Lingen’s “Flow.” Second of all: You probably want to have some tissues on hand when you read this one. There are dryads, and landscapes, and being seen and known–until you aren’t, through no fault of your own. This is about how it feels to lose something utterly integral to your sense of who you are. Hauntingly gorgeous and, for me, deeply affecting.
“Henosis” by N.K. Jemisin (Uncanny Magazine)
And in honor of the Hugo Award finalists being announced in a few days, let’s talk about N.K. Jemisin’s “Henosis.” It’s about a writer and an award he’s been nominated for multiple times but never won–and the ramifications of winning. Let’s just say they’re not particularly pleasant. At its heart, this is a story about how recognition can change a person–and not always for the better. I enjoyed this story’s slightly skew structure and the writer’s interactions with the various fans they encounter. Jemisin doesn’t publish much short fiction, but what she does publish is always a treat to read.