Short Fiction Friday

I haven't been following all my favorite ezines as closely as I'd like, but I did get a chance the other day to read some of what I have collected on my Nook (I automatically upload Lightspeed, Electric Velocipede, and Weird Fiction Review and manually upload Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Ideomancer, and Abyss & Apex to my Nook, while reading Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld and quite a few others online at the moment). I haven't come close to catching up on everything that's waiting for me (either on the Nook or in browser tabs on my computer), but the November 29 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies I found well worth reading.

"The Telling" by Gregory Norman Bossert tells of a manor and what happens after its (presumed) lord dies, especially its effects on Mel (a child whose role in the structured patterns of the house is uncertain) and the bees (which react dramatically to the news that the lord has died). Though the narrative style is not like Mervyn Peake's, there's something of Gormenghast in this manor and its ritual- and propriety-focused inhabitants, and without revealing too much, something of Titus Groan in Mel's decision at the end.

John E. O. Stevens' "The Scorn of the Peregrinator" is one of those stories where the strange and evocative setting is the draw. It's the kind of wildly imaginative society I tend to love, immersing the reader into it with little explanation because our eye in the world is entirely familiar with it. So as the story goes, you're constantly realizing more and more of how strange and fascinating these bird-like people are. Into this society, the Peregrinator of the title has come to conscript soldiers for some distant war. The main character and his relatives don't believe they owe any more.