Another month's Fantastic Stories of the Imagination is what I'm looking at today. Two stories, are is usual, and these two once again rather strongly thematically linked. Both are science fiction stories, though the second has some definite fantasy elements. Both deal with leaving Earth behind, deal with raising children, deal with loss, deal with generations. They're both rather sad, but there is a hope to them as well, a indomitable will to them that gives them an optimistic feel. But you don't have to take my word for it; to the reviews!
"All That We Carry, All That We Hold" by Damien Agelica Walters (2095 words)
A rather touching and tragic story with a hopeful end, this one focuses on a woman as she grows up around giant ships that ferry humans to the stars. At first, as a young girl, the ships are monsters and she fears them. Slowly her perception changes, but the ships never really become something she likes. They are vessels that take away those she cares about. Her first love. Her husband. It's only with her daughter that the ships become something different, because to her daughter the ships are wonderful, are full of possibilities and freedom from the sorrow and trouble of Earth. And when that daughter gets cancer and dies, the ships become the one thing that the mother clings to in order to keep going. To her they are still monsters, but she also sees them in the reflection of her daughter's eyes. As freedom. As escape. And so she goes out on a ship to a distant planet in order to begin something there. And to end something, as she takes her daughter's ashes and spreads them on the wind. As I said, a bit of a tragic story, but the focus is on the healing, on the possibility and freedom that space brings. So while the story might be a bit of a downer (few stories featuring childhood cancer are light), it's still got a nugget of hope and yearning that makes the story a solid read.
"Molten Heart" by Alexis A. Hunter (725 words)
In this story a sort of golem, created of clay, helps to raise a young girl to her thirteenth year. A mix of fantasy and science fiction, the golem is magic but the story takes place on a terraformed world. The golem is made to help raise a child, but is made imperfect in hopes that the child won't bond with it too closely. It lakes eyes and a mouth. Lacks a voice. But still the golem loves the child, and child loves it. This is another story about loss and about generations, but this one is a bit different, showing that when the child grows up and has a child of her own, that the golem is revived. So that it's not really gone, just dormant, and that it can still love and share its love across the generations. It's still a bit of a sad story, because the golem can never stay, because there is that limit of thirteen years even if everyone wants it to be longer. But at the same time, there is progress, and this time the golem is given a voice. And maybe, the implication seems to be, there will be a time when it can stay. At the very least, it's continued presence from generation to generation means that it's never really dead, that its love keeps it going, and that it can share it always. A very short story, this one, but with a nice sad loveliness to it that made it impact just right.