I enjoyed all four of the new stories from Joan Aiken's new collection, The Serial Garden, from Small Beer. The story of a family's life in the countryside, and their experiences with the supernatural, has a delightfully nostalgic feel, while simultaneously being engaging and original. My favourite story was Goblin Music, about a bunch of goblins who move in, but all of the stories were enchanting.
I've never been that interested in Steampunk, because you know, it's too fashionable to be interesting, right? But I loved Margo Lanagan's story Machine Maid, from the anthology Extraordinary Engines. Historical Australia, with a clever alternate-history tweak, used to engage with gender oppression in a dark and funny way. I found it utterly engaging, wryly amusing and perfectly twisted. Highly recommended.
From the same anthology, I enjoyed Jeff Vandermeer's Fixing Hanover, the story of a mysterious stranger shipwrecked amid a primitive society. Like most of Vandermeer's writing, it's beautifully paced and softly menacing.
Another consistenly reliable author, Nancy Kress, delivers The Erdman Nexus in the October/November double issue of Asimovs, an excellent issue all round. The story of a group of people who undergo a strange alien experience, and its effect on the world and those around them, it works because of Kress's typically powerful ability with characterisation.
If you've been reading along this year, you'll know that one of my big discoveries of the year has been Robert Reed, whose work has been consistently powerful. Most of his stories have had an air of menace, and a lot have dealt with power and with manipulative, potentially sociopathic individuals. Truth is perhaps the strongest of all of them, a gripping, chilling interrogation against a dark future backdrop. Powerful, but unputdownable, stuff.
And finally, from the same double-issue, I enjoyed Leslie What's Money is No Object, a funny and believable story about a magic wallet.
Overall, an excellent issue of Asimovs, well worth your money and time.
Current Music: Grafton Primary - Left of Nowhere