SF/F by Emerging Writers via The White Review's 2017 Prize Shortlist
July 4, 2017 7:45 PM   Subscribe

"The Critic of Tombs" by Ethan Davison: "Emilia came to Tombs in the twelfth year of the interregnum. It was the first time in history a critic had been assigned to the city. A chilly place split over the St. Laurent, it is very small as cities go, even in the north, and not much accustomed to visits by anyone important." "The Refugee" by Kristen Gleason (winning story for the US & Canada): "Brian Ed waited outside the ration house. Merlijn took his time coming to the door, and opened it slowly. Brian Ed raised his hand and waved. Merlijn smiled an embarrassed smile and held up four fingers. 'No rations until four o'clock, Brian Ed.'" The full list.
posted by Wobbuffet (4 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Errrrrr...both linked stories are excellent, but is either one actually science fiction or fantasy?

And what is the golden cone in The Refugee?
posted by radicalawyer at 8:54 PM on July 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think that's a good question, worth more opinions from others. I think there's SF/F in a bookstore's general/mainstream section like this. Gleason's story is essentially post-apocalyptic and, unless there's some parallel I'm missing, Davison's depends on an imaginary social institution that probably wouldn't have worked out that way in the gaslight era. It matters to me a little too that Davison's personal reference points seem to include writers like Thomas Ligotti, Jeff VanderMeer, and Stephen King (judging from his Twitter feed). I can imagine others looking at it differently.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:13 PM on July 4, 2017

I should add that The Refugee made me almost nauseated with anxiety by the end, so, woo, good writing! I just didn't see a SF/F vibe except with the reference to the ocean that grew hands and ate snatched birds out of the air, which might be a metaphor.

It's no more SF/F to me than the Benjy chapter in The Sound and the Fury.
posted by radicalawyer at 9:29 AM on July 5, 2017

"The Refugee" is one of those stories that makes me suspect the author has more respect for me than I deserve, because there's so much stuff in there that I can't pin down.

But maybe it's largely allegorical, maybe it's chiefly intended to invoke feelings of confusion, alienation, fear and anxiety. The stuff refugees must deal with all the time. Maybe there isn't any answer to questions like "What is the cone?" or maybe there are several equally good answers.

Both stories count, I think, as "speculative fiction," extrapolations of what life would be like if the world were different in some specific way. That's close enough to SF for most people.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:40 PM on July 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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