A LONG BREAK HAPPENED because our rabbits ate the coaxial cable that blesses our house with internet. Um, it’s replaced now. So, more Sarah Monette:
SOMEWHERE BENEATH THOSE WAVES by Sarah Monette: 327/327
TWs listed seperately for the stories that need them.
Fiddleback Ferns is a very short SF story about alien plants—I appreciate the quickly established idea that pop culture knowledge is not irrelevant. Also, a woman who knows when to act. Frequent SM feature, which I do appreciate.
Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland is (SM says in her notes) her best-known and most successful short story, a bitter twist on Tam Lin where the mortal who’s been seduced is a woman, her mortal spouse has no real emotional clout, and she’s still smart enough to understand the devestating fact that to remain with the elf queen will kill her. That she has the strength of character to choose to give up bliss to save her self and her life isn’t romantic—but it is admirably, wrenchingly true. The same strain of sometimes embittered pragmatism is also visible in Doctrine of Labyrinth’s Mehitabel Parr (one of my favorite women characters ever).
Night Train: Heading West is a poem, about death and unwanted journeys.
The Seance at Chisholm End features a very ugly medium and his control spirit, who is his dead twin brother; another entirely excellent unromantic, sensible, and cool-headed woman; her employer, a rich, nasty woman who is constantly looking up ghosts; and her employer’s victim, who very quickly notices when a real medium gives it real access to the woman it loathes. This story has a happy ending, for the people who deserve it.
The next story, No Man’s Land, gets VERY BIG TRIGGER WARNINGS: gore, death, extreme misogyny, homophobia, past torture, rape, and severe genital mutilation. This one is getting a separate post. I found it extremely difficult to read and I have no particular triggers related to any of the content.
National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the West Coast is a brutal, brittle one-page drabble about how we fuck up magical things in our need to interrogate and peer at them.
The next two stories, A Night in Electric Squidland (tw: gore) and Imposters (tw: suicide, mental illness, homelessness), are both about paranormal Tennessee buddy-cops called Jamie and Mick. Jamie is a big Black bisexual (and MONOGAMOUS he points out firmly) ex-bouncer with a wife who hates his buddy-cop partner. Mick is a skinny white super-gay psychic. In the first, Mick rescues Jamie, and in the second, Jamie rescues Mick. Their dynamic is really frustratingly excellent, because I WANT it to be romantic, but even without sex it can’t be romantic without tripping over the monogamous line Jamie establishes for himself. OH IT IS GREAT AND I WANT MORE. Oh, but what are they about? Squidland is about a notorious supernatural S&M club that seems to be killing people, and Imposters is about mind possession and mysterious suicides, but actually it’s about homelessness and how we all fucking suck.
Straw is a brief post-alien, post-disaster story (tw: death, violence, familial violence, possession), skirting around the memories of the two scarred, crippled people most affected: the man who is “rewritten” with an alien identity and massacres unspecified numbers of people, including his own family, and the girl who stops him.
Absent from Felicity—Horatio/Hamlet, Horatio/Fortinbras. T. Post-canon.
The World Without Sleep is the only Kyle Murchison Booth story in the collection. Booth, suffering from severe insomnia, accidentally walks into a different version of the city. He finds stone angels, blood-scented vampires with flat faces and triangle mouths, not quite laughable goblins, and lying shadows. It’s very odd and not like the other Booth stories, but these are my favorite vampires ever, and one of my favorite Booths.
The last story in the book is After the Dragon, which is simply, frankly, and poignantly a fantasy setting for physical disability and the pain of survival. TW: severe injury, post-recovery.