|Art by Bruno Wagner|
"Lacrimosa" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2489 words)
A story about absent children and ghost and the homeless, this story is nicely creepy and surprisingly moving. Starring Ramon, an immigrant from Mexico living in Vancouver, the story revolves around his past and his fears and some of sublimated guilt. He's seeing ghosts. Or rather one ghost from his past, from the village he grew up in, and it's a looming specter that he can't escape. I love the resonance in the story, the way it all comes together, starting and ending with that question of "Where are my children?" It's a haunting note, and one that returns stronger and stronger, a story that Ramon remembers that he doesn't realize is bringing up issues and memories and guilt he thought long buried, long escaped from. But as the story shows, there are some things that you can't leave behind, and regardless of how hard you try to change, to blind yourself to the pain of others, there are memories that will betray you, that will remind you that things cannot be neat or painless, that there are wounds and there are things that should not be looked away from. That regardless of the place or time, we are all connected. The stories we tell and try to avoid, to deny, and in the end only perpetuate. The story of missing children, and abandoned mothers, or ghosts, is one that transcends the distance Ramon has risen in class, in material comforts. And the ending has a nice punch, an emotional payoff where finally Ramon can see the real ghost haunting him and the real people he's been ignoring. A very good story!
"Demon in Aisle 6" by Matthew Kressel (6229 words)
Stories like this wreck me. Just absolutely wreck me. There is an aching beauty and tragedy to this story that just sits like a weight on my chest. In short, it is an amazing story, amazingly sad and moving and okay it's been a while since I've cried like that but hurrah, my eyes still work for that. Okay, so, ahem, the story is about grief and loss and guilt and a young love that doesn't exactly work out. It's also about how shitty it can be living in a small town, a small and bigoted town where to be different is to be a target, and the smaller the town sometimes the bigger the target. Lucas is a kid from the city, who meets a local boy Davis and the two of them fall for each other hard. And in each other they find comfort and freedom and…well, this is a horror story so it's not really going to end well. Not really. It is an incredibly wrenching story, a story of young love with its fire and its mistakes and things take a dark turn and the emotion of this story is strong, is unrelenting. The power just builds throughout, the way reality shimmers and shudders, the way the world should bend to this love, to these characters, but there's too much pain, too much shame and guilt. There's hope as well, because for all this is a story of doomed gay love it's also a story about a place free from the shame and guilt. There's a lot of talk in SFF about tragic queer love stories. About there not being enough happy endings. But I feel that part of that impulse to want to see more "happy" queer stories is the want for the world to just be better. For it not to be dangerous to be queer. And yet it is. This story is about how the queer love story is bound by location, by class, by circumstance. It's a reminder that queer love is not something that exists free and open. That there is still hate to battle, still work to do. It's a yearning wish for a day when the struggle is over, but it's a recognition that for all it's good in some places, in other places there is still light-years to go. But my glob is this a beautiful story. A haunting story that looks at fear and guilt, a story that shows us that we are all made of stars, but we are not all free. Fuck. Seriously go and check out this story. It is amazing and all the yes.