Jy Yang, “Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points.” Clarkesworld, September 2014.
These are the final three stories in my 32 (!) day short SF marathon and we’re ending it with a bang. Jy Yang’s entry is a near future thriller starring an emergent AI out for vengeance after the death of one of his mothers. Officially it was an accident, a stadium collapse during a political rally but what isn’t clear to human intelligences is clear to the AI: sabotage. This reminded me of stories by Sterling or Gibson; high praise.
Isabel Yap, “A Cup of Salt Tears.” Tor.com, August 27, 2014.
Fittingly, in this last batch of stories we also have another reworked myth, that of the Japanese kappa. A woman is grieving for her husband dying of cancer, taking a bath in an onsen late one night, when a kappa enters the bath house, who introduces himself as the one that saved her from drowning as a child. He says he loves her, she is wary because she knows Kappas are not to be trusted. I hadn’t heard of kappas before, but I liked the way Yap introduced this one and quickly established its properties, according to myth, only for the kappa to act against them.
The heart of the story lies in the unlikely love triangle between the kappa, the woman and her husband. The description Yap gives of her waiting by her husband’s bed in the hospital, arranging her life around it and the feelings of helplessness, grief and sometimes irration and frustration, are horribly familiar. Her finding love or forgetfullness in the arms of the kappa is understandable. A nicely humane story.
Caroline Yoachim, “Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion.” Clarkesworld, August 2014.
This is an interesting and frustrating story, not because it’s told badly, but because of the subject. Taking the Kübler-Ross model of grief processing as its guideline, this tells the story of one family coming to terms with the changes in the world after a half succeeded, semi-accidental alien invasion. It’s one of those stories where you sometimes wish the writer would put her focus slightly wider, one that doesn’t come to a satisfying conclusion because that’s not how the world works.