This month the theme of Crossed Genres is Ensemble. And the stories do indeed do a pretty good job capturing that collaborative spirit. Three in number, as always, the stories range a nice bit, from historical fantasy to magic realism to science fiction. All of it grounded on Earth this issue, but there's nothing wrong with that. So here we go!
"Stone Dove" by Elizabeth Beechwood (2198 words)
This story's on the shorter side of what I normally see at CG, but it's also quite interesting. I will admit to having no real clue of where this takes place, as I assumed that it's set on Earth somewhere because of the Christian elements. But it tells of a set of mountains who take in some people, refugees from war, and who send out something of themselves, a stone dove that transforms into a woman, to help them. Mostly the dove, María, helps with the birthing of children, but she is seen as a Satanic, as evil and outside normal humans. The story does a good job of showing how this would come about, how she reminds them of something they want to forget, how she is different and so feared and shunned. It's something of a fable, this story, explaining the name behind the village that the mountains watch over. And as such it works pretty well, is filled with the elements that make a good fable, the magic and the closed-minded villagers. I'm not sure all the elements worked for me, but it's a good story that seems to be examining how people can be blinded by their ignorance and fear and indoctrination to think people lesser even when those people are only doing their best to help.
"Quiet Hour" by Peni Griffin (4814 words)
I'm not always a fan of time travel stories, but this isn't really a time travel story. Instead, it's a story about a sort of gathering. Delia, a woman whose mother ran a boarding house, discovers that the kitchen of the house is something of an enigma. Inside, times intersect, and women from all different times can converse and meet. It's a fun concept, and not exactly taken in a direction that most people would expect. Instead, this is a story about loss and remembrance, about stewardship in many ways. each of these women tries to do the best they can for the house because of how much their meetings mean to each of them. That community unites them across time and across many different backgrounds. Delia is a bit bewildered by it, but the story works, lingering not on how it might be possible but on the legacy of it, how these meetings keep people connected and how the past can inform the future, how the future can inform the past. Good times.
"Any House in the Storm" by Tais Teng (3066 words)
A competition between two young builders evolves over many years in this story. The two, Nadia and Rachid, both have learned the hard way the horrors of ecological disaster and are determined to innovate architecture to lead to more efficient and green living. Of course, they have extremely different approaches. Nadia wants to do things with the latest technology, and Rachid with the smallest footprint, using only what's available on site. They both flourish, but when they are called on to compete for the same project they find that they can work together much better than they can against each other. The story is a great mix of building technology and the romantic spirit of science. The story is hopeful, uplifting. The characters are solid, rivals and perhaps something else as well, something that they don't want to admit at first. The story moves across time swiftly but lingers at key moments, capturing the important moments in the lives of the characters. It's definitely a story that brought a smile to my face, and made me want to live in the houses they were designing. Indeed!