by Ellen Datlow (ed)
SciFi.com Website ISBN/ITEM#: 0410-11Sci
Date: October-November 2004 /
In my last two columns, I only reviewed one story from scifi.com's SciFIction (www.scifi.com/scifiction). This month, I am reviewing stories published here from October 6th - November 24th, which are: "Q" by John Grant / "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" by Suzette Haden Elgin / "Of Imaginary Airships and Miniscule Matter" by Gary W. Shockley / "Ruby, in the Storm" by A.M. Dellamonica / "Hula Ville" by James Blaylock / "Soho Golem" by Kim Newman / "All of Us Can Almost?" by Carol Emshwiller
My favorites of the group are "Q" by John Grant, in which is an ominous but thought provoking piece and "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" by Suzette Haden Elgin which was in a lighter vein. The quality of writing is very high throughout.
As usual, I'll start with the stories that I liked best. The first is "Q" by John Grant. The story is set in a future United States in which the President has been elected four times and freedom has been lost. Grant does not really tell us how this happened but that's not important. In it, a scientific program has discovered something about the "creator" of life. I won't spoil the story but what impressed me was that, despite the fact that I did not agree with the explicit theology or the implicit (as far I can tell) politics of the story, I was very impressed with what Grant feels would be the logical consequences of such a world view. This was not a fun story to read but the end was chilling and powerful.
The story "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" by Suzette Haden Elgin was a bit lighter but even better. Alyssa is a representative of the U.S. Corps of Linguists and she is posted on the planet Estrada-Blair. One part of the planet is an area called Sheffa in which a wall separates the Hisheffans (the rich) and the Losheffans (the poor). There is no middle class and no upward mobility. In talking with a Losteffan, she is told that they have always spoken "Panglish" - the combination of all the English languages of Earth. She cannot believe that because people from Earth had not been there forever. She meets an "eldress", an old Losheffan woman, who finally explains things. The end makes this one of those perfect pieces of short fiction which I will always remember.
The other stories that I read were all very good. "Of Imaginary Airships and Miniscule Matter" by Gary W. Shockley is a wonderful story taking place in 1899 dealing with a debate over the mutability of truth. "Ruby, in the Storm" by A.M. Dellamonica tells of aliens living on Earth and how people react to their presence. "Hula Ville" by James Blaylock tells of a man?s travel in the desert and his encounter with an angel. "Soho Golem" by Kim Newman takes place in 1970s Soho and an unusual murder that takes place there. "All of Us Can Almost?" by Carol Emshwiller is as unique as any of her stories. The "Almost" is followed by "Fly". "Super 8" by Terry Bisson is about a group of old friends who have a bittersweet reunion. Scifi.com, under the editorship of Ellen Datlow, publishes a new story every Wednesday. It should be checked out every week.