9.06.2010

Redstone Science Fiction and "Salt of the Earth"

While only four issues have been published since its inception, Redstone Science Fiction has quickly appointed itself as destination reading (disclaimer, they published a tale of mine earlier this year). I love the mixture of hard science interviews coupled with keen articles and interviews on the speculative field. I've really enjoyed the fiction, which has been diverse, literate and engrossing. It hasn't taken Redstone long to put itself up there with Apex, Chi-zine (when they are rolling) and Clarkesworld as some of my favorite reads. And my favorite story they've published so far is Mary Robinette Kowal's "Salt of the Earth."

Kowal's story is one of loss and revenge, and the responsibilities parents carry for their children. I know that last part should be self evident, but there's a whole population of parents that just don't see it that way.


Here, salt is precious--the most precious substance on New Gaea. Kowal deftly develops this central narrative element without exhausting it (a hard feat indeed when you consider the story's climax). To be sure, the tear guards and salties are nice touches.

And while I like the story's setting--it's vivid and well rendered--this is a narrative whose heart lies in the characterization. It's Theo and his self-centered demeanor and obvious disdain for his autistic son in "Salt of the Earth" that makes us invested in Melia's cool, detached revenge. This story is heart-breaking in some parts and cold-blooded in others. Very nice piece...

I re-read Stephen King's "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" today and I was struck by just how much I really enjoy his mundane fantasy tales, particularly the ones he sets in rural Maine and Oregon and Florida. The man, whether yarning on a plague of frogs in "Rainy Season" or describing the youth-restoring qualities of a shortcut through the badlands of another world, as is the case in "Shortcut," seems to really bring the goods in those cases. It's voice and its characterization, and the result is very often delightful.

Sorry about the tangent...

The long and short of it is (and I know many of you who might drop by here are students at the college who also dabble in a little bit of fiction writing) that Redstone Science Fiction is bringing quality scientific theory and fantastic fiction to readers on a monthly basis. Pop by for the fiction, but make sure you stay for the interviews. You never know when the next idea might kindle and ignite into flame...

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