Friday, September 9, 2011

Story Review: Anise

This is mostly a blog about the works of Roger Zelazny, but it only became that way accidentally. I saw that Geek Speak magazine had a feature on Zelazny and his works, so I contributed something and that led to me writing my ongoing series of book and story reviews.

And I do blog about other topics from time to time. I write those Legion of Super Heroes reviews that nobody reads, and I'll often write about movies and TV shows I catch if I think it might be interesting.

I don't read a lot of sc-fi any more and it's truly rare for me to read any short science fiction. When I do, it's usually an anthology. I don't know if I've ever read a genre magazine of the type where Zelazny's stories used to appear.

And yet, here I am, covering "Anise" by Chris DeVito, featured in the Sept./Oct. 2011 issue Fantasy & Science Fiction, available at fine retailers near you!

(Full disclosure, Chris does occasionally comment on this blog, but that's the extent of our relationship.)

I think my aversion for sci-fi short stories is that science fiction is just more work than other genres. On top of everything else a normal author must build, an author of science fiction has to establish the world, its rules, and its differences. There's a lot that can go wrong, so when sci-fi is good, it's very, very good, but when it's bad, it's horrid.

I'm pleased to say that "Anise" belongs to the former camp. The pace of a of a work is something that derails any number of stories, but Anise never stumbles. We're introduced to Anise Sodderberg, her "reconstructed" husband Robert and then gradually to the strange birthless, deathless society in which she lives. DeVito shows an extremely deft touch, grounding the alien with the mundane with a wealth of tiny details that lend verisimilitude to the piece, allowing the reader to assimilate each new concept before moving on to the next.

Science fiction at its best, introduces a world different from our own and then looks at life in such a world. DeVito's scope is far more intimate than that, focusing on Anise and her alienation, as universal a story as there is.

Because it is such a short work, I'm reluctant to talk about the plot any more than I have, because the discovery is part of the joy in a story like this. So give it a chance and check it out, and feel free to post your comments here.

1 comment:

  1. Anyone who would still like to read Anise can now do so for free -- see the BestSF website:

    Hey, waddaya want fer nuttin'? Egg in ya beer?