Thursday, October 17, 2019

Birthday Review: Stories of Bruce McAllister

As with many writers, my Locus career doesn't encompass all of Bruce McAllister's exceptional short fiction. But he has published some exceptional work since 2002 ... so here's what I've written about him, in honor of his birthday today.

Locus, April 2004

Amid a group of decent stories in the April F&SF, two of the shortest stand out. Bruce McAllister's "The Seventh Daughter" is very short indeed, less than three pages, but quite affecting, about a boy and a model village he makes and the stories he invents about it -- and how this affects his adult life.

Locus, January 2006

“Kin”, by Bruce McAllister (Asimov's, February), is an affecting, but also somewhat chilling, story of a boy who tries to hire an alien assassin to kill the man who wants to kill his sister (that is, abort his mother’s unborn child). The alien and the boy strike up a relationship, and we learn a lot about the assassin in particular – and we get hints about where the boy’s life may lead him.

Locus, June 2007

Fantasy Magazine #6 has several very nice pieces. Bruce McAllister's "His Wife" again evokes an American childhood in Italy, here from the perspective of a middle-aged man returning to Italy with his now grown son. He takes him to meet the aged woman who had fascinated him in his childhood. She is near death, but she has yet another surprise for him.

Locus, October 2010

From Northern Ireland comes Albedo One. Number 38 features another of Bruce McAllister’s ongoing series of fantasies about a teenaged American boy in an Italian village. In “Heart of Hearts” the fourteen-year-old narrator experiences what we might call “puppy love” with a mysterious local girl, who makes patterns in the sand with seashells, and who cannot swim because she is narcoleptic. And who might have some connection with the old local story about Percy Bysshe Shelley … All these stories are sensitive, atmospheric, quiet, and cumulatively absorbing.

Locus, June 2017

Bruce McAllister’s “This is for You”, in the May Lightspeed, is a brief and quite disquieting SF story. The narrator is a boy just returned to Earth from Pitipek, a planet near Tau Ceti, still adjusting to human ways – and human girls. But he starts to make friends with Mala, and decides to make a painting for her. All innocent enough, but we realize that painting on Pitipek is not quite like painting on Earth

Locus, October 2017

There’s a good set of stories in the August Lightspeed. “Ink”, by Bruce McCallister is a subtly realized tale of a boy with hemophilia who collects stamps, and while living in Italy asks for old stamps from an old lady – and the letters she finds bring up memories of her past, and of her husband and son, lost during the War.

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