Folks, May was rough. I was on tour for much of it, and sick and sad for the end. I still read some great stuff, and I want to share it with you. There are some gems here you might have missed.
First, Tochi Onyebuchi got right at the heart of why I distrust stories about pretty girl-shaped androids. There’s always a question of humanity when an android looks like Bishop or Data or Decker. When it looks like a cam girl, the tone of the story shifts somewhat. Onyebuchi’s essay looks at the implications of this with a piercing perspective, and you should give it a read.
Next, there is nothing so haunted as your own hometown. Izzy Wasserstein wrote an incredible short story about the places that draw you back like a magnet, no matter how much you change or how much freedom you gain. This story hurt me in ways I didn’t know I could be hurt. The melancholy of the prose combines with a dreading, resigned knowledge of the self to make mourning into an art form. Imagine all your pain, if you learned to knit the timelines with your dead parents’ bones. This one will stick with you, like hometown dirt in your boot treads.
Finally in shorts this month: I love a story told in a bold and surprising format. The fact that Nibedita Sen can show you terror in an annotated bibliography releases a glee in me that I can scarcely contain. This is a story about cannibal women, and if that doesn’t make you click on it I don’t know what will.
I read a great book in May, but I have to be a little coy with you. It’s not out for a bit, and I want to review it thoroughly once it debuts. So this is just a tease.
K.M. Szpara‘s debut novel is called “Docile.” It’s about an easily-imagined future where debt is forever and absolutely defines one’s destiny. The main character sells himself as a kind of slave to work off his family’s combined debt. The world in which he does this offers him a drug called Dociline that will check him out of himself and make these conditions easier to bear. He refuses to take it.
This book is so complex, so visceral, so compelling that I hardly know where to begin except to tell you to preorder it.