Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dean's List, Part 2

Well, this is a bit delayed considering I was out for the weekend; however, I managed to finish these stories for dean's litcritters group only now and here are my comments on it. Review of other stories for the past weeks to follow.

Actually, now that I think about it, I suppose this is my poor man's version of book reviews. Hopefully, this will get me off my sorry ass and get reviewing again.

  • Australian writer Ben Peek's Cigarettes and Roses reminded me so much of noir movies, with its view of the grit and grime of people's nature. In this story, two people tasked with the transportation of possibly an Aboriginal saint takes a turn for the worse when one of them gets cold feet. However, I thought the speculative fiction was somewhat slight in this story (the smell of roses), which could be seen as either good and bad. Good because it's a good story despite the lightness of the spec-fic element; bad because why add the idea then? (A character is overpowered by the said smell but methinks it could also be seen as a kind of hallucination, yes?)
  • On the other hand, the speculative element in Patriotism by Yukio Mishima is non-existent, part of dean's move to get people to read stories outside the field of speculative fiction. Essentially a tale of a young Imperial Japanese Army officer who decides that duty is heavier than a feather and his new young wife who follows in his footsteps, this Japanese story is a marked contrast to the almost mythical approach used by Kij Johnson. Rather grisly ending and a bit excruciating in details; I did remark after reading this story that the most alien culture sometimes occurs in the next country. (Which serves as a good comparison to the next story...)
  • Ironically, Tk'tk'tk by David D. Levine shows us that though our fellow human can be alien at times, the most alien of alien beings can have something in common with us. The story of a down-and-out salesman (reminiscent of Willy Loman) working on an alien planet, this eventually went on to win a Hugo Award for Best Short Story. Personally, I much preferred Levine's other works like "Charlie Giraffe" or even "The Tale of the Golden Eagle." However, unlike say Margo Lanagan's acclaimed "Singing My Sister Down" which also won an award for best short story, at least I can see why Levine's story scored the Hugo with its better use of pathos.

Which reminds me that my November deadlines are coming out. *gulp*

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