More snow this week, but they’ve actually plowed our road for a change. Reminds me I’d best plow through this week’s slush.
Story 1 (4500 word magic realism): This one has a cute idea, but there’s no real character arc to support so many words. The story does not change this character other than superficially (he goes from unemployed to rich). In the end I find myself amused by the concept, but indifferent toward the protagonist. Reject.
Story 2 (4880 word horror): In a way this was a very tough call. There’s some very engaging writing here and our first leprechaun and it’s clearly written with our theme in mind. However, the first three paragraphs introduce five named characters (plus a nickname). They describe situation and relationships in loving detail, without a hint of plot movement. The actual plot does not begin for several pages. And when the plot does move, it moves slowly. There’s a hint of Goodkind disease at work – why say something in five words when you can use ten? Still, it features a few sharp twists that work nicely. On the other hand, I’m left wondering whether this is really the protagonist’s story in the end and whether he ever had a goal. So, while I like the core concept a lot, I feel there’s way too extensive a revision required to suggest a rewrite. Pass to second read.
Story 3 (3550 word SF): This one snuck up on me and I ended up liking it. I’m not sure it’s what we want for the anthology, but it could be. Semi-omniscient viewpoint, unreliable narrator, mixing science and psychosis, but the ending makes the read worthwhile. I’d like to see the relationship played out a bit; as the story reads now the protagonist seems believably unstable, but her lover also comes off as a bit loopy. It’s really close on that front too, though. Just a line or two should fix it for me. Pass to second read.
Story 4 (4112 word Horror): This was an odd story from an unreliable narrator. The execution was mostly sharp, at times excellent, and I did enjoy reading it. The story ended well and featured some good edginess. In the end, though, I’m left wondering how it would fit into the anthology and it just doesn’t feel quite right. It’s not a tight fit with our theme and is also more experimental in its telling (technique over story, in a sense) than we typically like. It’s also a reprint, which is a slight negative for us. We’re trying hard to rely less on reprints this year. Pass to second read.
Story 5 (4400 word Horror): This first person story starts with a chunk of philosophic navaling, then proceeds to a waking up somewhere strange scene (thought I was dead), through a fast-paced action scene, then to a somewhat predictable reveal and a philosophical anticlimax. I rather like the final sentence and the story is certainly competently written. However, I wasn’t particularly drawn to the character initially and the pacing was too slow to keep me motivated. The action scene was handled well, but I didn’t really have an investment in the outcome (possibly due to the first person narrative choice, which tends to distance the reader a bit). In the end, I’d say this is a perfectly competent tale that just didn’t stand out for me. Reject.
Story 6 (2000 word SF): This is basically a soft porn SF story. While I don’t have a particular objection to that combination (the best story in Taking Flight was such a combination), I do have problems with the SF idea as an excuse for soft porn. This reads more like a description of an idea than a story. Reject.
Story 7 (2000 word SF): This was a strange little beast, at times riveting, at times confounding. I was disappointed in the ending, which felt like a white flag to desperation rather than revelation. I liked the last scene until the very ending, however. Pass to second read.
And this week’s Slushy goes to… Story 3. Story 4 gives stiff competition, but 3’s the one closest to what I’m looking for in the anthology. Other editors may disagree.