Monday, February 18, 2019

Birthday Review: Stories of Tina Connolly

Today is Tina Connolly's birthday. Tina has been publishing exceptional short fiction for over a decade now, and so I've assembled a set of my reviews of her work for Locus. Tina is very good at any length, but she is one of those writers who has done lots of exceptional work at the short-short length, which sometimes means short-short reviews! But they still should not be missed! Tina is also among the best recent comic-oriented writers (though, again, she is perfectly capable of being deadly serious when needed, and, besides, comic stories are often really deadly serious.) (I see, too, that this set of reviews mentions some quite obscure publication venues -- which I'm happy to see, because those tiny efforts often feature first-rate stuff that deserves all the notice it can get.)

Also, I didn't review her story from last year, "The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections", because I'm now concentrating on print magazines for Locus, but I will add that it is excellent, and you should all read it!

Locus, June 2007

Yog's Notebook is a modest new magazine for which I had small expectations that were readily exceeded. The title promises Lovecraftian horror -- and in a sense that's true but the touch here is light -- to very good effect. I quite liked "A Memory of Seafood", by Tina Connolly, a deadpan restaurant review, its effect arising from the nature of the dish served.

Locus, February 2008

To the online (or electronically distributed) world: The second issue of the Australian YA ‘zine Shiny again features three fine stories – and again my favorite was the most light-hearted,  Tina Connolly’s “The Goats are Going Places”, something of a sendup of such YA hits as “Gossip Girl”, which is notoriously based on a real prep school in Manhattan. In Connolly’s story, her heroine is kicked out of her public high school, and is sent to live with her aunt, and to attend a high-end school. She gets in with the “in” girls, but perhaps takes things too far – except that her aunt can actually do magic, and uses some to teach her niece a lesson.

Locus, August 2008

And again we see that many writers are committing Mundane SF, whether or not they explicitly intend to. For instance, Tina Connolly’s “The Bitrunners” (Helix, July), set mostly on the Moon, among a gang of children who commit small-time crimes – in part to conceal their larger crime: “bitrunning”, sneaking confidential information from place to place. The narrator, though, has bigger things in mind: a trip back to her Martian home, with the greater risks that entails. She’s a very well presented unreliable narrator, with a bitter past – a past that poisons even her present hopes. (She is, perhaps, an unreliable narrator even to herself.)

Locus, March 2011

The old editors, Cat Rambo and Sean Wallace, bow out with some strong stories in January and February at Fantastic. From January, I liked Tina Connolly’s “As We Report to Gabriel”, an original and quite charming story about fairies, set in a house owned by a woman who has been forced to renounce any interest in fairies for political reasons. Which is a problem, as she is married to one. The telling is delightful and the depiction of the nature of fairies is original and unexpected.

Locus, October 2011

Bull Spec is a North Carolina-based magazine that has been growing in confidence. Its sixth issue includes five stories, all enjoyable. I liked Tina Connolly’s “Selling Home” best, set on a tall structure with poor people on the lower levels and rich people up higher – but the rich people have a fertility problem, which means that the struggling narrator Penny will be faced with a hard question – what to do when a chance-met rich girl wants to buy her little brother.

Locus, September 2012

In August, though, that changes – I thought the two original SF stories at Lightspeed were best. ... I really liked “Flash Bang Remember” by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim. It's built around a frankly unbelievable central notion: on a generation ship, all the inhabitants share a single childhood, which they experience virtually while growing up in a vat. These childhood experiences were the real life of a boy who has been kept in stasis every since. The heroine is called Girl23 – she's their attempt at recording a similarly ideal female childhood experience, but as her number suggests, there have been problems. Then the original boy is waken from stasis, and they meet. As I said, I had a hard time buying the premise, but given that, things are worked out very nicely, with a well-done resolution. It's lightly told, engaging, with a YA feel, and for all that there's a thoughtful core to the piece.

Locus, February 2018

Uncanny in November-December features a very effective brief story by Tina Connolly, “Pipecleaner Sculptures and Other Necessary Work”, about an android on a generation starship who faces a transition as they reach their destination – from a preschool teacher to a more martial role. The unvoiced questions concern what work is necessary – and of course identity and agency for androids.

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