Shorts about Shorts! Short Story Collections I read in 2015

Normally, I spend my lunch hours trying to not drip salad dressing on my keyboard, but this year, I promised myself I would interrupt my daily toil to close my office door and read during my lunch hour every day. No email, no clients, no spreadsheets.

(Excuse me while I snicker at my silly January 2015 self.)

That maybe happened like three times. Damn you, capitalist work guilt, which doesn’t even make sense because I am a public servant, but I just can’t close my door to read a book because people might need me. I just can’t.

I’ve gotten a little bit better about taking my lunch hour this fall, which requires physically leaving the premises, but the truth is, I’m just not very good at, nor am I motivated to, read short fiction. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it takes a long time for my wacky attention span to focus on a book. Short fiction doesn’t provide for that kind of luxury, and a lunch hour of ducking the dreaded “what are you reading?” question doesn’t help.

Anyway, I got through a small number of short fiction collections this year. Here they are, in the order in which I read them:

Shorts about Shorts! Continue reading

The Citadel of the Autarch (Book of the New Sun #4) (1983) by Gene Wolfe

… in which a hero goes on a dreamlike journey… to find a shirt…

TheCitadeloftheAutarch1Rajan Khanna, at Lit Reactor, calls it “fractal.” Peter Wright, at Ultan’s Library, says “Every reading is, then, an individual resurrection.” Months after completing my first reading of The Book of the New Sun tetralogy, I’m still digesting it, like a piece of shoe leather someone dared me to eat. Continue reading

The Sword of the Lictor (1982) by Gene Wolfe

TheSwordoftheLictorAnd we return to another installment of “Conversations with Gene,” where I rehash my experience with the third release in the Book of the New Sun tetralogy, and Gene continues to play coy, though less so than usual.


The past cannot be found in the future where it is not—not until the metaphysical world, which is so much larger and so much slower than the physical world, completes its revolution and the New Sun comes. [40]

Whoa, Gene. I don’t know if it’s the New Sun, but there is definitely something different going on in this book. Severian has settled down with Dorcas and has a stable torturer job in a new town. AND WORDS MAKE SENSE. What gives?
Continue reading

The Claw of the Conciliator (1981) (Book of the New Sun #2) by Gene Wolfe

TheClawoftheConciliator1The following is a transcript of a conversation between From Couch to Moon and Gene Wolfe. Not really, but just go with me on this. (Click here to see the first part of this conversation.)

Hey Gene, the Claw of the Conciliator sounds like a metal song. Has anyone done this yet?
Continue reading

The Shadow of the Torturer (1980) by Gene Wolfe

Shadowofthetorturer1“It’s a pity you are a torturer,” Ultan said. “You might have been a philosopher” (p. 47).

I think Gene Wolfe is talking about himself. Again.

But torturer, he is, and my casual, unstudied approach to reading SF has failed me in this instance. With Wolfe, heuristic reading is the worst way to go. The Shadow of the Torturer requires preparation.  A briefing. Nobody told me this is no superficial fantasy story.


“If there are layers of reality beneath the reality we see, even as there are layers of history beneath the ground we walk upon…” (p. 103).

Well, hell. You’re talking about this book, aren’t you? Continue reading