Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Birthday Review: Stories of Cat Rambo

Today is Cat Rambo's birthday, and in her honor I've put together a selection of my Locus reviews of her short fiction.

Locus, December 2006

In Strange Horizons in November I was particularly impressed by Cat Rambo’s tearjerker (but in a good way) “Magnificent Pigs”, about a young farmer who wants to be an artist, but who has to raise his younger sister after their parents’ death. The young man moonlights as a tattoo artist – and practices on their pigs as his sister, who loves the book Charlotte’s Web, dies of cancer.

Locus, April 2007

At Strange Horizons in February I liked Cat Rambo’s “Foam on the Water”, a look at a politically connected American man tempted by an exotic woman (?) he encounters in Thailand … I like the subtly shown reasons he shies away from relationships.

Locus, April 2008

In Cat Rambo’s “The Bumblety’s Marble” a girl receives the title object fortuitously, and then meets a mysterious boy from the underworld, who desperately wants it back – the lives of the two children are quite sharply limned in a short space.

Locus, February 2010

Cat Rambo also has a collection out, her first, Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight, with a selection of fine earlier work and five new stories, of which my favorite was “The Silent Familiar”, in which a wizard’s familiar has a child, a silent child. Who can this child be a familiar for? The answer has bitterly logical consequences for everyone involved.

Locus, April 2011

GigaNotoSaurus opened 2011 with a couple of quite different and quite entertaining stories. From February, Cat Rambo’s “Karaluvian Fale” is colorful political fantasy about a young woman of an aristocratic family fallen on hard times who learns to give as good as she gets in the nasty political maneuvering surrounding her. It’s one of those stories that I hope presages more in the same milieu – this story is fine but a bit thin perhaps – but all it needs is more length, more incident, more plot.

Locus, July 2011

The June issue of Fantasy includes  a strong piece from Cat Rambo, “The Immortality Game”. Twenty years before, in high school, Glen was fascinated by four popular kids, in particular one girl who seemed briefly interested in return. But nothing much happened, and now he’s married, fairly happily, living an ordinary life. Those four all seem fabulously successful, and then he’s drawn back into their orbit, and the girl he liked wants him. And she’s still terribly hard to resist. What’s their secret? The story rather darkly recalls both Ken Grimwood’s Replay and Avram Davidson’s “The Sources of the Nile” (each from a different angle), and it is strong work on the effects of immortality – on the immortals and on those they influence.

Cat Rambo shows up again in the second 2011 issue of Abyss and Apex . Her “Bots D’Amor” is a pleasant story about a somewhat down and out spaceship pilot with a collection of toys that his ship’s robots have used to augment themselves with – perhaps illegally, but still perhaps to his benefit.

Locus, May 2016

Best this issue (F&SF, March-April 2016) is Cat Rambo’s “Red in Tooth and Cog”, in which Renee, eating lunch in a park near work, has her phone stolen, and comes to realize that it was taken by an abandoned robot-creature. She becomes interested, and slowly, with the help of the park’s robot caretaker, puzzles out some of the secrets of the park’s robotic ecology. The invention is sometimes whimsical, often very affecting, at times beautiful. And to my mind quite original.

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