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Amadan na Briona

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Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon, Ron McLarty
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
Ellen Datlow, Laird Barron, Conrad Williams, Ramsey Campbell
Locus Solus (Alma Classics)
Raymond Roussel
Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)
Mira Grant, Paula Christensen, Michael Goldstrom
Under a New Star - Phoebe North This is a free short story. I don't read a lot of short stories nowadays, and I'm leery about self-published fiction, but the author apparently has a debut novel coming out, and this was free, so...

We aren't immediately told that the main character is an alien and that we aren't on Earth, but the contextual clues alert us pretty quickly. It's one of those stories where much of the experience is trying to figure out what is really going on, as the first-person narrator describes in matter-of-fact terms his life and environment, which is very alien to us and so he doesn't describe what things look like (or what he looks like) the way a human would. Are they humanoid? Are they plant-creatures of some sort? It's never clear. On one level, it's an alien-discovery story, on another, it's an almost medieval tale of a scholar studying in a distant city while his wife/fiancee (or whatever the analogue might be) lives elsewhere.

The "new star" is the science fiction element. There is a hint of that tried and true SF short story ending Humans are the aliens! here, though we don't know for sure that humans are involved at all.

I struggled between 3 and 4 stars for this. The writing borders on poetic at times, but has a bit of "trying too hard" about it, like "Look Ma, I'm writing literary sci-fi!" That I think was to the detriment of the story, as we're meant to empathize with the struggles of the inhuman, vaguely-described narrator and the tragedy at the end, but the strokes are a little too broad to make out any details, an inevitable challenge in such a short piece. I've definitely read inferior stories published in SF magazines, though, so Under a New Star proves the author has some writing chops. If she writes a full-length (non-YA) SF novel, I'll probably check it out.

If you like SF short stories, this free story is certainly worth the 20 minutes or so it will take to read it.