Short Fiction Wednesday

For a few weeks now I've had a Strange Horizons story open in a tab, a story that looked worth reading but for one reason or another I kept reading other things first. Then this week Fantasy featured a story by the same writer, Lavie Tidhar, so I decided it would be a good time to read them both.

The story in Fantasy, "Monsters," begins in a very self-aware way--something that often appeals to me, but I know some of my writer friends are less keen about--talking about stories as metaphors, spaceships and aliens as symbols. Then its narrator tells its own story, about the amphibian species it comes from and the planet left behind, and finally about the purpose of sending its message (something I'll leave for other readers to discover). I enjoyed the touches of non-Western cultures that are mirrored in the alien's culture (or at least the way it uses our non-Western cultures to explain itself), and the mood as the story wraps up creates a good effect.

The Strange Horizons story, "Aphrodisia," is also science fictional, though in this case more focused on the body adaptations people have taken, both in response to technology (so there's a definite cyberpunk feel) and to colonizing the Jupiter moons and other regions of the solar system. Those social touches are what stand out in this--the evocation of Earth society and the ways each of the main non-Earthborn characters feel in it. I'm less clear on why the narrator had been forced to seal his body data ports--at first mention, I'd guessed in was in response to some sort of crime, but later I wondered if it was more an intervention/rehab kind of thing to deal with addiction...though in that case I would have liked to see a stronger sense of the narrator's addiction earlier. Anyway, despite that, I enjoyed the story a lot.