"Scenting the Dark," Mary Robinette Kowal's debut short story collection is slim and spare and eminently satisfying. Kowal writes science fiction that uses our relationship to technology to expose our relationships to one another. Kowal is one of science fiction's most celebrated new writers, a winner of the Campbell Award for best new writer and a current Hugo nominee, all on the strength of her short fiction (she has two novels forthcoming from Tor), and it's easy to see why.
For me, the standout story here was Jaiden's Weaver, a tale that combines the astronomical reality of life on a ringed planet with a subtle and moving coming-of-age story. Like the other stories in this volume, it epitomizes Kowal's gift for using rigorous science fiction as a lever for prying open the subjective reality of the people who inhabit the futuristic world of now.
"Scenting the Dark" is a slim, handsomely made hardcover volume from the specialist house Subterranean Press, a great gift and a great treasure for yourself.
Be sure to check out Kowal's website for readings of her work (she's a talented and accomplished voice actor and puppeteer -- she read my story After the Siege for Subterranean's podcast), free downloads (she's a copyfighter, too!), and other supplementary material.
Scenting the Dark and Other Stories
In November, Bruce Sterling published “Pirate Utopia,” a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism.
Randal Munroe nails it again in an XKCD installment that expresses the likelihood that your houseguests will be able to connect to your wifi (I confess to having been the “firmware” guide — but also, having been reminded to do something about my own firmware when other difficult houseguests came to stay).
Rainey from EFF writes, “EFF just launched a new video about its efforts to encrypt the web. It features bestselling author Baratunde Thurston explaining why encryption matters and two simple ways to ensure the web we love is encrypted.”
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