The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"The Three Unknowns" by Severna Park: An Appreciation by Merrie Haskell

She had me at the word "archaeology."

Of course, my little geek niche isn't a fair way to judge a hook, but I bet she had the rest of you by "Mars" at the latest.

And if archaeology and Mars aren't enough, Severna Park gives us (in no particular order): academic infighting, smarmy-lusty ship captains, twelve flavors of protein supplements, the first extraterrestrial McDonald's, exile, betrayal, revenge, forgeries, middens, obelisks and Alpha Centauri.

And she gives us wonderful bits about archaeology that point to both the truth and inherent humor of the profession, like:

"On Earth, the first things Althea would have looked for were the town dump and the cemetery. The wealth of civilizations eventually ended up in one place or the other."

"The Three Unknowns" hits so many of my brain-buttons on what makes for good story that reading it for the first time was like mainlining chocolate espresso beans. The fact that SCI FICTION managed to find these chocolate espresso beans and share them regularly still amazes me. I will miss the weekly jolt.

Link to story.

"Neutrino Drag" by Paul Di Filippo: An Appreciation by Claude Lalumière

"Neutrino Drag" is a campy gonzo historical mythic hard-SF drag-race comedy of Americana. It beautifully and mirthfully captures a specific time and place, a low-culture moment of twentieth-century American mythology. It's fun as all hell. It's funny as all hell. It's sorta sexy, in a high-kitsch 1950s kind of way. It plays amusing linguistic games, and its exuberant language is inseparable from the story being told. The speculative science is mind-bending. The characters are beyond peculiar. The plot is totally ridiculous, yet we joyfully fall into "Neutrino Drag"'s expertly created universe.

It's fun.

Short stories can be fun.

Paul Di Filippo stories often remind us to chill out and have fun. And that includes having fun reading Paul Di Filippo stories.

Link to story.

"All the Sounds of Fear" by Harlan Ellison: An Appreciation by CJ Hurtt

Ellison's "All The Sounds of Fear" reads not so much as a short story, but rather as a type of sermon. This shotgun blast of words and passion is aimed straight at the reader. This is Ellison doing what he does best; calling it as he sees it.

While not the strongest piece In Harlan Ellison's body of work, this story is definitely one of the most raw and terrifying. We are shown a mirror of humanity in protagonist Richard Becker. We get a peek at the life of someone who absorbs the world's madness and shows it to us, all while the audience applauds. His destruction is the result of life imitating art imitating life. He is a reflection of us at our worst and he dies without redemption, an Oedipus screaming for some light.

Link to story.