The two stories I’m recommending today have to deal with claiming oneself rather than being or doing what others expect of you. This is particularly true of woman in many societies, where we have been taught that our purpose is to serve, to sacrifice. These stories push against that narrative in delightful ways.
CONSOLIDATION by Langley Hyde is a science-fiction tale about an android fit with an adaptive/pleasing personality who is then repurposed in order to help exterminate natives on a planet. This is her tale of discovery, her tale of waking up, of realizing the pressures of her programming that represent so keenly the issues that woman face. Published in Escape Pod.
THE DRAGON MAKER by Amy Clare Fontaine is a shorter piece about a woman who can draw dragons into life who is pushed to begin drawing dragons for others rather than herself. If you’ve ever felt this pressure to use your passions or your skills for other people, whether through work, hobbies, or otherwise, this story will speak to you. Published in Zooscape.
One day during each week we were taught by a guest rather than Jeanne. These guests included: J. G. Faherty, Brandon Sanderson, Eric James Stone, E.C. Ambrose, Barbara Ashford, and Scott H. Andrews. Each of them taught a class on a different subject, from horror and world-building, to plot and publishing. They would all have Q&A sessions, and a few of them would stay for our Salon & Games after our group thank yous.
There were also a few guests who came for a very limited time. These included people such as Carrie Vaughn, James Joseph Adams, & Sheila Williams. They each did a Q&A session with us and some of them then did private critiques with a few people. Sheila Williams was kind enough to give me some advice on how to be a shy, socially anxious person within the industry as she’s also dealt with similar struggles and that was incredibly helpful and inspiring.
A few of these guests also did critiques with us. Brandon Sanderson did an in-class one for me, while E.C. Ambrose and Scott H. Andrews did private ones. Some of the guests were kinder and gentler than others, and some of them were more than willing to support us in our journeys, which was beyond kind of them :)
As a part of our thank you to each of our guests, Jeanne and Amy showed a past Odyssey t-shirt that represented something similar to what they would be getting once our year’s came in. This was actually what they were sent: our 2020 aptly named Viscerally Vexing since it can stand for both the crazy year we’ve all been having and the words we struggled over during Odyssey.
I think the best part of the having the varied guests drop-in virtually for us was to really shine a spotlight on how different people’s opinions are, how subjective the magazine and novel world is, and how our own specific writing voice has a home, we just have to discover where that is.
<3 Marie C.
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged short story, flash, critique, science-fiction, novel, workshop, fantasy, sci-fi, writing, reading, odyssey, lecture, horror
GHOST WOOD SONG
by Erica Waters
There’s something haunting about this novel. It follows a young woman who grew up in a house with ghosts, ghosts that would appear whenever her father played his violin. Now, her father is long dead and she has taken up music in much the same way her father had, with dreams of his violin haunting her, as if the instrument calls for her to play it.
Grief plays a large part in this novel, as Shady works through her emotions that still linger on since her father’s death. The magic in this story is a slow crawl, that rises via music and threatens to destroy Shady’s life rather than solve the problems surrounding her family and their painful, tragic history. This novel is atmospheric, with a great cast of flawed, relatable characters. Care is given to the romantic relationships Shady is pulled between, respecting both sides of her bisexuality while also acknowledging the importance of platonic friendships.
This is a contemporary fantasy, set in a rural area of the United States.
These two stories deal with completely different topics within their underlying themes, but on their surface they are about a person and their relationship with some sort of online persona they’ve crafted.
EVERQUEST by Naomi Kanakia is about a man named Gopal who receives an online multiplayer role-playing game as a present. He crafts a female character, named Gayatri, and begins to fall into that fantasy world more and more. This story is about outward expression, the journey to acceptance of oneself and the cultural and familial pressure that can stall someone on their journey of discovery. Published in Lightspeed Magazine.
A COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF [REDACTED]’s VIDEO CHANNEL by Rhiannon Rasmussen is, just as it says, a literal translation of one person’s fumbling attempts to craft their own video channel. The videos—featuring how-tos and cooking recipes—devolve into disturbing territory that becomes almost comical in nature as you
watch read through these disasters. Published in Diabolical Plots.
The Odyssey Slam occurred exactly halfway through the workshop. Normally, so I’ve heard, the Slam would occur at a local bookstore. Instead of a bookstore, we did a Zoom “party” where only the person reading at that time would have their camera turned on.
We got to invite three people. One of my invites was my mom. Unfortunately, my family got double-booked that day with my niece’s second birthday also being held as a zoom event with the overlap being across the first hour of the Slam.
This meant I had to request a late time slot in order for my mom to get to see me read. Boo :(
I’d been really wanting one of the first slots so I could do my freak out, get the read over with and truly enjoy everyone else’s stories. Instead, I sat in a puddle of anxiety that ticked higher after each subsequent person read their story. I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember a single word of the story of the person who went directly before me because I was sitting in a haze of don’t-panic thoughts.
This was the story I read during the Slam
The story I chose to read was the flash piece “Cessation of Civilization” that had originally been published in December 2019. This meant that I didn’t have to write a piece for the Slam (thank goodness). I practiced it all morning, with my partner giving me tips on how to “look up sometimes!” So I made it through the read generally unscathed. Continue reading
Posted in Odyssey Workshop
Tagged book store, critique, flash fiction, odyssey, party, publication, reading, students, virtual, workshop, writing, zoom