Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Birthday Review: Stories of Kenneth Schneyer

Yesterday was Ken Schneyer's birthday. I felt like Ken deserved a birthday review, but I confess my Locus archive missed a couple of worthwhile stories, so I added a couple of new capsule reviews.

Locus, June 2010

And Kenneth Schneyer, in “Liza’s Home” (Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Winter 2010), coils time paradoxes nicely in a story of a woman racked by guilt who invents a time machine.

Locus, August 2012

At Beneath Ceaseless Skies for May 31 I enjoyed Kenneth Schneyer's “Serkers and Sleep”. Serkers are victims of the bite of serks, which leads to paranoia and madness, and superhuman strength, such that serkers are likely to kill many of those closest to them. The only recourse is to kill them early, before the madness overtakes them. This notion is briefly sketched, and the future course of the story is clear when we meet our protagonist, an adolescent with a female friend who loves to swim in the lake, where the serks live … The resolution turns movingly on a local legend, and a magical book.

Clockword Phoenix 4, 2013

Kenneth Schneyer's "Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer" is an interesting story told via the notes to an exhibition of the title painter's work. It's set in the future -- Latimer is said to have lived from 1963-2023. The paintings and notes tell the story of much of Latimer's life -- her time in college, her up and down relationship with her lover and later wife, her fraught relationship with her parents -- as well as referencing a few dark incidents from the wider world: an industrial fire, a notorious case of child abuse. The notes try to tease out all kinds of symbolism as the reader realizes that what is being described are ghosts (and hints about the painter's personal life.) [This story made the Nebula shortlist.]

Lightspeed, November 2015

"The Plausibility of Dragons", by Kenneth Schneyer, follows the Moorish scholar Malik and the woman warrior Fara as travel through medieval Europe in search of the dragon they think killed Fara's sister. Malik isn't sure he believes in dragons, but he finds it even stranger that as they get closer to rumors of dragons they also find people who think he's a demon because of his dark skin, and that Fara is a witch, because no woman would wield a sword. The story turns intriguingly into a meditation on the nature of reality and the importance of belief in each other.

Lightspeed, July 2016

Kenneth Schneyer has a distinct interest in the stories we tell, as evidenced by his previous Lightspeed story, "The Plausibility of Dragons". "Some Pebbles in the Palm" is about the many lives of a fairly ordinary person, suggesting that he (or his choices) really didn't affect the world much. Then suggesting that maybe nobody's life affects the world much. Then reminding us that this is a story, leading to a neat stinger of an ending.

Locus, January 2018

I also liked Kenneth Schneyer’s “Keepsakes” (Analog, 11-12/17). The title refers to personality recordings, that their owners can call up and converse with, to help them remember their past. One question is – does this interaction change the keepsakes? Another question: what if a keepsake remembers something the later person doesn’t? And what if that memory hints at a crime? The protagonists are Doru and Afzal, who were lovers long ago, before Doru broke things off. He’s an expert on the Keepsake technology, and Afzal is a lawyer, and Afzal’s latest case involves a young woman whose Keepsake suggests her father may have killed her mother. There is a legal story here – can Keepsakes be witnesses? – but also an involving personal story, about Doru and Afzal and their history – and their Keepsakes.

1 comment: