New weekly feature: Every Wednesday I’ll review two short stories from two different authors. This week’s short stories are:
Noah Cannon is the survivor of alien abduction. She not only survived captivity for twelve years from the time she was eleven, she now works willingly for her former captors as a Translator. The Communities, as the alien invaders are called, are entities each made up of hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of separate creatures living together as a colony. They travel in ball shapes, each their own little hive of multiple minds working together.
They’ve come to Earth on a one way trip to either co-exist with us, or enslave us. Noah has decided, after a close-up experience of the true nature of both how the Community people work, and how humanity works, to try her damnedest to get the two species to live together and accept each other, perhaps even work peacefully together. The reader gets to sit in and listen as Noah goes to work on a group of job seekers looking to become Translators.
Amnesty is a fascinating look at how we might be forced to adapt, as individuals, to some outside force beyond our control. Each day we must do this on a smaller scale, but we at least feel like we have some kind of free will. In Amnesty, you either accept that The Communities are here to stay, or you throw your life away by trying to fight the inevitable. Noah does the only thing she can, by trying to work within the system that has sprung up.
Read Amnesty for a taste of the possible future, and read the rest of Bloodchild and Other Stories for some even more bizarre and fascinating scenarios and essays from Butler.
Bitch by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Part of the Spell Singers anthology
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: DAW (December 6, 1988)
In this gender bending, shape-shifting short story, the Adept of the Blue Star, Lythande, is tricked into the shape of a female dog. Lythande has a secret that none of the other Blue Star Adepts must ever find out: she’s a woman disguised as a man. In the all male Blue Star order, it is forbidden for a woman to become a magician, but Lythande managed it by disguising herself. Her punishment, upon her gender being revealed, was that should any man find out she is a woman, she would lose all her protection against her fellow Blue Star Adepts.
When both Lythande and her traveling companion, the Blue Star Adept Rajene, are transformed into dogs, her worst fear is close to realization. Will Rajene believe the “change” from male Adept to female dog is part of the spell, or will he understand that Lythande is in fact a woman? If he does, all her carefully gathered power will be his for the taking, along with any other Adept she encounters. And of course, how ever will they change back to their rightful human shapes?
This a short, fun little story, playing on Lythande’s predicament in a tongue-in-cheek way. Bradley always has a little too much fun with Lythande, her constant tragic character. Read Bitch, and the rest of theSpell Singers anthology full of short stories by many of today’s best fantasy writers, and don’t miss Lythande, the complete collection of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s stories about the Adept with a terrible secret.