November ushers in darker days, the saving of daylight, and some all-new fiction. In addition to new issues of the magazines you already know and love, there's one making its debut: Uncanny Magazine. More venues for short fiction are always welcome, especially said venues offer fresh and different perspectives on the SFF conversation.
Speaking of: last month's post by Warren Ellis on stagnation amongst British SF magazines made me more curious than ever to check out Interzone magazine again. Having finally gotten my hands on copies of the last issue and the latest, I suspect you'll see quite a few recs in the coming weeks beyond this first one.
"I'm worried that a song will never again change my life."
My husband doesn't look up from his phone.
"That never happened to you? You heard a song on the radio or at a party, or you went to a punk show, and you knew you'd never be the same?"
"Sure," he says, his voice all Christine-you're-not-thinking-things-through. "But that's not necessarily a good thing. The only reason a song or movie or book can change your life when you're a kid is because you don't know who you are. Because you're so uncertain or unhappy or scared that you'll grab onto anything."
"That's a good point," I say, because it is, because he is full of them. The phone comes back out. I want to say so many things. I say none of them.
Smell is supposed to be one of the strongest senses for triggering memory, but like the main character here the memories triggered by songs that made an intense impression are much more vivid than the ones triggered by smell. I'm not quite traveling back in time. I do tend to get lost in music. This is why I don't drive.
What would your time traveling triggers be, if you had any?
Among the many magazines I've mentioned in this column, the only one that doesn't offer a paid subscription of some kind is Strange Horizons. That's because every year SH holds a fund drive to raise all the money they need for a year at once. Donating to said fund drive enters you in a drawing for one of many fabulous literary prizes. Plus, as funding goals are met, bonus content gets released into the world.
I encourage you to donate to the Strange Horizons fund drive for the same reason I urge you to subscribe to the magazines you like every month: doing so means editors can keep publishing awesome fiction for you to read, wonderful podcasts for you to listen to, and thoughtful non-fiction for you to argue over. Donate today!
Another suggested subscription:
Uncanny Magazine - It's a new endeavor, true. But if you like what you read for free online you can subscribe and get all the content at once instead of waiting. Who likes waiting? No one.
Celia and the Conservation of Entropy by Amelia Beamer | Uncanny Magazine
I'm shocked that my time machine has worked. At least, I think it's worked. But I can't see anything and I'm feeling carsick.
The room smells like I imagined, dust and cool metal, and underneath that, a hint of aftershave. I blink a few times and then touch my eyelids to check that that my eyes are open.
It's not my room anymore. No way. A single uncovered bulb hangs overhead. I haven't seen one of those outside of a museum! Plus he's got these long wooden tables covered with real copper wire, wrenches, switches, circuitry. I listen, but no one seems to be home. I try to breathe. I'm so excited. I never expected my time machine to work!
If time loops and paradoxes and relativity make your head ache, this might not be the story for you. I love this stuff. And I love it when authors play around with implications of time travel that have nothing to do with grand, sweeping adventures but instead focus on the little things. Like going back in time to see a grandparent who died before you could remember them. Or rescuing his long lost novel.
Plot-wise, the end doesn't quite stick the landing. But emotion-wise? I admit, I teared up a little bit.
This story won't be online for free until the first week of December. If you buy the issue you get to read it right away.
Lord Knowshire could scarcely contain his emotion. Before him, only a few miles away, gleaming bright in the sunlight, were the red walls of Sah-Harah. In that moment, he forgot the tragic vicissitudes of his journey, forgot the unhappy fate of his companions and the faithlessness of his guides, forgot all but the marvelous sight that lay at last before his eyes. For years he had dreamed of it, repeating the passages from Abu-Abbas engraved in his memory and comparing the Coptic inscriptions of Abydos with the papyrus, two millennia older, discovered in the nameless tomb at Deir-el-Bahari and never fully understood till now. He had followed his destiny here. He allowed himself a moment to savor the long-sought triumph, for he had paid dearly for it. Then, hoisting onto his back the knapsack containing all that was left of the expedition supplies, he set off resolutely toward the gleaming granite walls that sent him from afar a final, irresistible challenge.
This story unfolded in a way I wasn't expecting, and in a way I'm sure many American or Western readers wouldn't expect. This is why I so love that more magazines are investing in translations.
There's a story behind this story. A long, winding, novel-length story that the reader is left to spin out on their own in the end. And that's what makes it resonate for me: all the possibility flowers it plants in my head.
Any great stories I missed this week? Shout them out in the comments!