I've finally gotten on the short story kick I've been meaning to get to for ages. In the last couple of weeks I've read Survival by Storytelling, The New Dead anthology edited by Christopher Golden (more about later), and I'm half way through the so far wonderful Clockwork Jungle Book, which is the 11th issue of Shimmer with the theme of Steampunk animal tales. Which brings me to van Eekhout's sci-fi collection Show and Tell and Other Stories.
In the Late December is the most offbeat little Christmas story you'll likely find. Santa in the far future is still doing his job in order to keep reality going as the Universe is dwindling by delivering gifts to little boys and girls who happen to be some unusual sentient beings. This is a story of triumph and resignation from an endearing Santa that somehow makes despair a bit funny. This story was worth it for the cover price alone, especially given the time of year. This story is available on Strange Horizons for those interested in a holiday treat.
Native Aliens skews the perspective to show how life runs in strange circles sometimes. Split into two points of view with one of oppressed human in 1945 Indonesia and the other of an alien going to earth. It is definitely the most moving piece in the bunch as it is a highly personal story based on the oppression van Eehout's parents faced.
Anywhere There's A Game is a series of flash fiction strung together from a longtime pro basketball player. Instead of talking about the best players he has known he wants to talk about the most remarkable. Everyone from a Zombie, clairvoyant, and flying shooting guard make cameos. Even if you aren't a sports fan you'll get a kick out of this one.
Authorwex was by far my favorite story of the collection as it entertains the idea of being able to meet your favorite author, albeit in robot form. The ending wasn't quite what I was expecting as it felt more like the beginning to a bigger tale yet it had me laughing on each page as the main character unwittingly falls into something out of his control. The world building was also very interesting with how the society is built.
Show and Tell was just about as strange as you can get. Picture a future where the norm is to have six arms or two mouths and basic humans are considered strange. The main character's inner dialogue was hilarious as he frets about what he is showing to the class, which will decide if he passes on to the next grade.
Far As You Can Go would probably have been classified as one of the earliest Green Punk stories if the term had existed than. It was a bleak future of scavenging where a young man is befriended by a robot of sorts. The action was a bit jarring towards the end and left a few too many unanswered questions for me. It makes me curious whether Greg is done with this tale.
Definitely grab a copy of this collection if you are a Sci-Fi short story fan as it does not disappoint. I give Show and Tell and Other Stories 9 out of 10 Hats. I hope van Eekhout gets to do a larger collection someday. His second novel, which is also his first YA novel Kid vs. Squid comes out in May 2010. If you want to get a taste of Eekhout he has the short story Last Son of Tomorrow up on tor.com and a bunch of podcasts freely available.
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