Friday, 5 August 2022

More Short Stories Read During Reading Slump

I think I said in an earlier blog post that I was out of my reading slump. I hope I'm out of my reading slump (goodness helps me if I'm not) and last week, my company went on its annual summer shutdown so my partner and I went away for a free days to Alton Towers and, while there, I decided to read some more short stories from Amazon's Black Stars collection, 

Black Stars is a collection for short sci-fi stories, written by black authors, which can be read within 30-odd minutes. (There are other short story collections on Amazon, ranging from sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, and others. All of which I will have to investigate)

Now, in an earlier post, I read one of the stories within Black Stars - The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I did like reading this short, but it's hard to explain this. I keep thinking of it as a gender-flipped Handmaid's Tale told from the point of view of Mrs Dalloway. Plus, it did hit close to the bone as I read within weeks of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, making safe abortions illegal in certain states, so that was very much on my mind as I read this. 

After that, I wanted to go back into a novel so I tried to read another Diana Wynne Jones: The Many Lives of Christopher Chant. But I only got to chapter five. It wasn't holding my attention and though I wanted to, I knew I couldn't go on at the current moment. So, I decided to go back on my myself and read some more shorts from Black Stars collection: Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson, The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor and These Alien Skies by C.T. Rwizi. 

Clap Back follows Wenda, a protest performance artist, who doesn't believe the stories about fashion designer and biochemistry, Burra, who's new clothing line will have nanotech weaved into the fabric to tell the wearer about African history and forgiveness. The Black Pages follows Issaka as he returns home to Timbouctou from his studies in the US, only for his family home to be attacked by al-Qaeda. And These Alien Skies follows Msizi as he pilots a spaceship to test a new wormhole jump that could lead to unsettled yet possible habitable planets, but when an explosion causes the ship to go off course, he and his co-pilot fear the worse... 

I'm not going to write full-blown reports on each of these, but I will touch on them in quick summaries of my thoughts. I had high hopes for Clap Back, and it didn't quite hit the right notes for me. I liked the story when it was being told in media reports. But when it switched out of that, I didn't warm to the story. It had potential, but it didn't high the sweet spot for me. 

Black Pages, out of the three, felt the strongest. Maybe because it felt more fantasy than sci-fi, but this felt like a story I could sink into. Plus, it felt like this could be the start of something: a prologue of introduction short story to a novel with these characters and I would have enjoyed seeing more of them.

And These Alien Skies. Sadly, this didn't work for me. It felt as if it was trying to tackle too many things in a short time-frame. Maybe I read this at the wrong time, but it just didn't work for me. 

But collection of short stories are going to be hit and miss. Some stories you are going to love, other stories not so much. I have a few collections that I want to read in the coming months, and we'll see where we go from there. 

But, my reading slump has ruined my reading and I have several novels that I am desperate to read (and I can't wait!). So, might take a week or two off my blog and come back swinging! Wish me luck!

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