Ithe wake of the horrifyingly unprofessional bigoted comments of Helix editor William Sanders there was a lot of talk on what authors could do if they no longer wanted to be associated with Helix because of Sanders official comments. A few folks requested their stories be removed and we saw what happened there. Another suggestion was re-posting the stories elsewhere, since Helix’s contract is non-exclusive internet rights, and changing links to point to the new location. So it’s been announced today that a group of both current and former Helix published authors have set up an alternative website to archive Helix fiction – Transcriptase
The Current Author List-
Yoon Ha Lee
Go check out the stories, it’s what I’ll be doing.
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.
Both of these stories were interesting in different ways. Both are fantastical things set in modern times but Urchins… has a darker feel, a more individual story that focuses on the conflict one person has and the discovery and change she has to go through. Set in post-war Russia the atmosphere of the story is dark and mysterious and unrelenting. Urchins…, has the benefit of being written by one of my favorite authors, Catherynne M. Valente who wrote the amazing Orphan’s Tales duology and her way with words and her love of them is in full display in the story.
In Blood… the conflict is more of a constant worry for some people in that world, it also has political leanings, by which I mean there’s political activism focused around the conflict. I also found it interesting that the story was focused on a male, it was interesting because we as a part of Western society don’t really think of men in those terms without judgment. Virgin for men is an insult and for women a virtue according to the dominant paradigm and it was and interesting to see this represented in the work. I could deconstruct this more but I don’t want to ruin the story. Blood… is by David Barr Kirtley, who I’ve never read before but the idea and execution of the story really kept me interested which is a feat when there’s a male protagonist (usually the only things I read have a female main character, but that’s an essay for another time).
Anyway, check them both out and let me know what you think.
Urchins, While Swimming by Catherynne M. Valente
Blood of Virgins by David Barr Kirtley