“My Evil Mother”

Margaret Atwood

I was expecting something a lot more depressing, given Atwood’s most famous work, but this was actually quite touching. It’s a very short read, and as far as I can tell, free in Kindle edition, so go ahead and grab it.


“The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories”

A.C. Wise

I continue to like short story collections and anthologies, because there’s less of a sense of obligation to them. In this case, I probably only read 2/3 of the stories—a fair few just didn’t stick as I was starting them, and I thought, oh well, it’s just a few pages to skim past.

Wise’s writing style is distinctly more poetic in character than I tend to go for, and I think that was a lot of what lead me to skip as many of the stories as I did. At least as I was reading, I wasn’t in the headspace to be putting quite that much effort in; maybe this was the wrong book for the moment, but it’s the one I was reading, so.

Even the ones I did read don’t felt like they stuck to my mind super well.1

I did like the note it ended on, though—a weird little high school love story mashed up with a horror movie in a fun way. And it successfully got a song stuck in my head, so that’s something!

At the end, I don’t know that I’d give this book my usual highly-positive “go read it” review; maybe see if your local library has it and come to your own decision?

  1. Admittedly, part of that may be because I finished reading this book after going for a swim, and my brain feels like it’s about 35% chlorine at the moment.

“Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives,” or, “less existentially upsetting than you’d think”

David Eagleman
I believe I added this book to my wish list back when CGP Grey talked about it, either on Hello Internet or Cortex. It’s an interesting concept, explained succinctly in the title: a collection of (very) short stories about what happens after you die. I’d actually read one before, way back when it was published as the one-page science fiction short in the back of Science magazine.
To be honest, the book was an enjoyable read, but a very quick one; for the price, I think I’d recommend checking it out from your local library.1

  1. Also, y’know, I recommend supporting your local library in general. They’re a wonderful resource. 

Destroyer of Worlds

This was a lot shorter than I was expecting, so I’ll go ahead and warn you now – it’s short!1
I thought it was going to be some kind of science fiction thing, and there was a part of my brain making 2001 references, but that wasn’t really what it was. It was a character story. Kinda nice.
Like I said, it’s a short little story, so it’s getting a short little review. Go read it, if you’d like.

  1. My problem with the Kindle’s little ‘length indicator dot’ things is that they don’t scale well. Something like this that is, according to Amazon’s website, 29 pages, shows up as something like 8 dots, but I’ve read things that were fifty thousand words and also showed up as something like 8 dots. 

Hold-Time Violations

This was written by one of the authors from the issue of Lightspeed that I read recently, and I saw that they’d written something for, so of course I had to go find it and read it.1
That said, it was a short story so it’s getting a pretty short review. It’s an interesting concept – you’ve got a loop of universes, each of which contains the next one down, and is contained by the one above. Because it’s all in 11-dimensional space or whatever, the bottom-most universe contains the topmost one, and you get a nice self-contained loop. As it turns out, the way that the universes contain one another is the ‘skunkworks’ – a mass of pipes, ferrying data from place to place, generating the universe it contains. Physics within those skunkworks are rather different, allowing people to do interesting work to tweak the pipes and keep everything working right.
The main character, Ellie, was raised by her mother to be one of those repair workers, and though she’s still new at it she’s already being regarded as one of the best, it would seem.
From that context, it’s a story about family, in a way- you see a couple references to her sister, Chris, who never actually makes an appearance except for temporarily hijacking someone else’s body.2 Mostly it’s about Ellie’s relationship with her mother.
It’s kinda sad, I must say. But, based on the way everyone is described, I think it’s roughly the best-case scenario.
So, trying to avoid any further spoilers here, go have a read, it’s free.

  1. It wound up jumping in line in my reading list by dint of being in Pocket, rather than on my Kindle. 
  2. Texting would just be too easy, y’know?