SF/F author Vonda N. McIntyre (some may remember the not exactly complimentary review of her book The Moon & The Sun which I linked to in the 13th Carnival of Feminist SF/F Fans) is offering some of her short fiction for free on her website. I just finished reading Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, an amazing short piece about Snake, a young healer who uses the biochemistry of snakes to do her work. She’s helping a small desert tribe with a young boy, a tribe who doesn’t trust her and is truly desperate. To see how she heals and what happens you’ll have to read the story but I personally found it very sad and gorgeous and I loved the idea of the work and the character of Snake so much that I’m contemplating buying the book Dreamsnake (the aformentioned review makes me a little wary but I’m gonna give it a try) that McIntyre expanded from the short.
I won’t lie the possibility of skanky race issues rear their head a little bit in how the tribe is depicted but it didn’t bother me for two reasons.
#1 I don’t believe McIntyre actually intended to make the tribe POC, because she keeps using sun-browned so I assume since they are browned from the sun and not actually inherently brown she just meant a tan
#2 Even if they were meant to represent POC they are not all uniformly ignorant or reactionary, there are those among the tribe who do not fear Snake and who actually talk with her.
So though I wish the commentary on the tribe’s customs didn’t have such a judgemental edge to it I still liked the story a whole lot and will definitely look into picking up the book. There’s also a Writer’s Appreciation button at the bottom of the story where you can donate a little cash if you really liked the story. I would have but I haven’t yet received my first check from this job so yes, if you can afford to give a little do so.