Thursday, March 31, 2016

Great Things I Read in March

If I can say anything about reading in March, it's that my Favorites List is probably incomplete. Between illness, family emergencies, travel, and rebuilding my computer from scratch, I have forgotten an obscene amount of data this month. It's been easier to forget a good story because I read so many this March. While everyone else was (somewhat justifiably) freaking out over Donald Trump steamrolling the Republicans, I kept finding wonders from around the world. Here are a few of them.


"Your Orisons May Be Recorded" by Laurie Penny at
-A story that treats angels as switchboard operators for prayers. Our narrator is an experienced, ancient being who's been demoted a few times given their extreme fondness for human men. They keep screwing human men - and falling in love, but there are centuries of sexual indiscretions too. Once they married a country pastor. The scenes are quick and spry, the tone ceaselessly funny, resigned to their place in the cosmos, but also wry. It's the most fun I've had with a "fallen angel" story since The Screwtape Letters.

"The Curse of Giants" by Jose Pablo Iriarte at Daily Science Fiction
-The story about a giant growing up. Already you're envious of Iriarte's inspired premise, but it can be read literally or allegorically, about the abusive forces you encounter as you grow into your own strength and bravery. For something so short, the ending has a hell of a punch. And it hits back, too.

"Opening Move" by Xin Rong Chua at Flash Fiction Online 
-A striking slice of life piece of a struggling chess player, who's managed to escape the Girls category and instead plays in the Open. But that puts her up against the top-rated player in the entire league. It's a flash packed with milieu.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Stop Calling Fiction a Lie

What's the difference between lies and hyperbole? Lying is wrong, but hyperbole is the worst thing ever.

One pernicious hyperbole is that fiction is a lie. The truth is that fiction is untruth, and if that confuses you, welcome to my job. My grandfather believed fiction was a pack of lies, and even tried to talk me out writing the one time he drove me back home from Liberal Arts college. Over burned toast and runny eggs, he argued that someday society would recognize that novels and movies were feeding us falsehood and that we should only deal with facts and non-fiction.

That's what I hear when people joke about writers as high-paid liars. If anything, the lie is that most of us are paid very much. Lies and fiction are two kinds of untruth that are little alike.

Lies are non-consensual. You speak misinformation under the assumption the other person doesn't know better. Your kid doesn't know there isn't a Santa Claus, but you want to fool him, for fun, or to get his mind off a chronic illness. The IRS doesn't know how much money you've hidden under the table, and you want to deceive its agents to get away with paying less. A lie is your decision without the informed agency of the other person.

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