Archive for the ‘daily science fiction’ Category
The trouble with very short fiction is so often there isn’t actually a story. And while a vignette can be satisfying, most of the time they are not. Sparks is a 600-word setup to a punchline. (“Why have you replaced your hands with wands that shoot sparks? I wanted people to stop watching my eyes.” Which feels about as plausible as a woman getting a boob job so men will stop looking her in the face.)
This is too bad because people marking themselves with piercings, tattoos, branding, etc. is something that we see every day and the motivation behind extreme body modification is something that could have been explored here. Alas, the story was too short and there wasn’t nearly enough room.
When I was at Clarion, one of the things the instructors told us was that it wasn’t enough to write a competently crafted story – they were all over the place. There needed to be something more, something that would raise it above the level of the ordinary and forgettable.
American Changeling doesn’t have the something more. It’s competently crafted, moves along from point to point and wraps up sufficiently well, but there’s nothing there to catch my interest. It’s a textbook” get the magic widget and accomplish the magic task despite unexpected setbacks” type of story.
When I read the author notes, Kowal indicated that she wanted to write a story where the chosen one didn’t have the task thrust upon her, but instead had been preparing for it her whole life. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to breathe life into it.