6 min read

Stone Soup Digest 01.14.22

Welcome to the Stone Soup Weekly Digest! This is where I share what I'm up to and some of my favorite things from around the internet. Subscribe to Stone Soup to get this in your inbox every week.

My short story I Swim Up From Below appeared in Mermaids Monthly in September of last year. (I am obliged to remind us all that it’s eligible for awards, if you’re into that kind of thing). I tweeted this week about how I did research on what it’s like to fight an eel, and two things happened. The first, arguably more important thing that happened is that I found out how many people think they could win in a fight against an eel. People brought up that on land, a human has an advantage over an eel, which I think is factually incorrect. An eel will win against you in a fight, that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t even need to be that big.

The other thing that happened is, I realized how much research I did for that story. I’m not a research-heavy author, I tend to lean into making shit up more than finding shit out. This is a thing I’m working against in an upcoming project that requires tons of research. But for this mermaid story, which is mostly about a mermaid wanting to eat a boy, I did tons of research. I researched climate collapse predictions, ideal wind farm placement, turbine construction, barge maintenance, and — above all else — eels.

After what I’ve read? I will never, ever, ever start shit with an eel.

Also, check out this great write-up of the humor and horror in my original comic series Eat the Rich!

Science Fiction is a Luddite Literature by Cory Doctorow

This was published as an article in Locus on January 3, and on Doctorow’s podcast on January 10, so you can read it or listen to it (whichever you like best). Either way, I always love an exploration of the history of the Luddites and what we have to learn from them:

The Luddites did what every science fiction writer does: they took a technology and imagined all the different ways it could be used – who it could be used for and whom it could be used against. They demanded the creation of a parallel universe in which the left fork was taken, rather than the right.

Knowing Tama by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

I didn’t know Tama as well as I think I might have, if I had not spent my childhood preoccupied with normal childhood things (myself). I didn’t think to ask her questions like I should have, like I wish I had. This is not to say any of my time spent with her was a waste— I knew that she loved me, I knew she made incredible jam, I knew she comported herself with unflappable dignity, that she favored quiet moments of kindness, and romantic musicals. That her laugh wasn’t loud but the whole room felt alight with it. But I didn’t know what the quiet corners of her mind held, nor the secret passages in her capacious heart. It was not a loss I realized until she was gone. It is perhaps not a loss most of us realize until our elders pass.

Traffic Jams Are a Very American Disaster by Dr. Malka Older

The U.S. highway network, like so many of the things that the public depends on without thinking too much about them, is a complex system of interdependent components, overseen and maintained by a patchwork of different agencies. A lot of systems in the United States are in even worse condition than the highways because they’ve been pared down to increase profits: think of the U.S. health care system, strained under normal circumstances and with no excess capacity for a crisis.

To Make Unending by Max Gladstone via Sunday Morning Transport

In the twenty-second year of the Seventh Bale, six thousand years since the last High King of Men and Elves fell beneath the waves, and twelve thousand more since the wilting of the Rose, on a cold autumn day beneath the silvern trees in the Lady’s Seat of Calberthrel, Celabrim Cindercloak returned from long ranging in shadow to find his son playing with a calculator.

I’m Reading

Sundial by Catriona Ward

You can't escape what's in your blood...

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive...

The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Happy Ever After.

On Her Own Terms.

It's official: Zoey Marks is the cursed bridesmaid that no engagement can survive. Ten years, three empire waist dresses, and ZERO brides have walked down the aisle.

After strike three, Zoey is left wondering if her own ambivalence towards marriage has rubbed off on those she loves. And when her building distrust of matrimony culminates in turning down a proposal from her perfect All-American boyfriend, Rylan Harper III, she and Rylan are both left heartbroken, leaving Zoey to wonder: what is it exactly about tying the knot that makes her want to run in the opposite direction?

Enter Hannah Green: Zoey's best friend, who announces that she's marrying a guy she just met (cue eye roll). At a castle. In gorgeous, romantic Ireland, where Rylan will be in attendance, and Zoey will be a bridesmaid. It'll be fine.

Okay, the woman definition of fine (NOT FINE).

Determined to turn her luck around, Zoey accepts her role and vows to get Hannah down the aisle--all the while praying her best friend's wedded bliss will allow her to embrace marriage and get Rylan back.

But as the weekend goes on, Zoey is plagued with more questions than answers. Can you be a free spirit, yet still want a certain future? Can you have love and be loved on your terms? And how DO you wrangle a bossy falcon into doing your bidding?

Add Bad Luck Bridesmaid to your tbr here. Order it from your local independent bookseller, or order it via Bookshop.org to support independent booksellers throughout the US and the UK. For international shipping, you can try Barnes & Noble. If you prefer audiobooks, here’s a Libro.fm link. You can also request Bad Luck Bridesmaid from your local library — here’s how to get in touch with them. And if you need to order from the Bad River Website, here’s a link that will leverage your order for good.

Kitten Update

Bert and Calamity have grown an entire pound each since they came home! They’re enormous and eat constantly. We have three different cat beds for them, none of which they give a shit about because human laps are available. They’re snuggly and talkative and desperate to find out what every plant in the house tastes like. Calamity’s current favorite thing is sitting by the back door and watching the birds in the yard while radiating a truly devastating amount of bloodlust.

That’s it for this week! If you’re a paying subscriber, come by the Stone Soup Supper Club for our weekly chat! I can’t wait to find out how you’re doing.