The DWJ Project: scattered short stories and The Skiver’s Guide
I noticed, when I made my post for Unexpected Magic, that there were (as near as I could tell) three short stories not collected elsewhere, plus a nonfiction humour book, and one poem. (Info taken from here.) That last will, dammit, not be arriving at my house in time to meet my self-imposed deadline of tomorrow — which is the anniversary of her death — but I’ve managed to get all the others.
(Confidential to the Internet: if you have a copy of Now We Are Sick, and the poem is short enough for you to type it up and send it to me, please do. Just so I can finish everything in time.)
The first short story, “Mela Worms,” made me nervous. It’s contained in Arrows of Eros, which is an anthology of erotic science fiction. When you have been reading a certain author since you were nine, and that author writes almost exclusively for children and young adults, it is kind of brain-breaking to contemplate her writing anything in that vein. Fortunately for my sanity, her story is much more on the “speculative” side rather than the “erotic” one, as the titular mela worms, which are necessary for the reproduction of an alien species, get loose on an overcrowded spaceship and wreak havoc. It isn’t the most memorable story of hers ever, but it’s also far from the worst.
The second (and I’m putting these in the order I read them) was “Samantha’s Diary,” in Stories: All New Tales (which may hold the record for most utterly bland anthology title ever). This one is definitely on the weak side; it’s near-future science fiction in which somebody begins sending the narrator Samantha gifts, which the reader will quickly figure out are the gifts named in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Too much of the story, alas, is spent on Samantha being surprised by the day’s deliveries, and trying to figure out where to put all the birds. It eventually diverges from that path, and gets better when it does, but on the whole, this one is skippable. (Unless you’re being ridiculously completist. Not that we know anybody like that.)
The third story, “I’ll Give You My Word,” is probably the best of the lot. It takes place in a version of this world where magic is common, and concerns a pair of children, the younger of whom mostly speaks in nonsensical combinations of SAT-type words. Exactly how his ability ties in with a certain magical threat isn’t as well-established as I’d like, but it’s a very DWJ-ish story, and reasonably fun.
Finally, The Skiver’s Guide is a humorous how-to book on the topic of skiving (or “slacking off,” if you’re not familiar with that word). It wasn’t as funny as I’d been hoping, but that’s largely because it’s a very good anatomy of a personality type I kind of want to punch in the face. So, y’know, props to it for that.
Two more books and posts to go — but if you can get me the poem in time, please do . . . .