Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reviewish: Ansible 15715 & Ansible 15716

"Ansible 15715" & "Ansible 15716", Stant Litore

*This has made me want to talk about the concept of ansibles, but I will save that for another time.

I will strive to be spoiler free.

Up front, I want to say that I wish I’d thought of this first. The Ansible Stories seem like the perfect depository/showcase for all the alien worlds that exist in our imaginations; places that have a story that (I feel I) would ruin the mystique to tell.

Each tale leaves you wanting more, but not with the feeling of missing something. Like an amuse-bouche, they are single bites and give you a taste of what the mind of the author might have to offer you.

As always, Stant Litore’s prose just fits. It’s not the same lyrical language from No Lasting Burial, but that is by necessity. Each piece is from the perspective of a different ‘Ansible’ and they are very individual characters. The language used feels like the language of someone talking to you (and they are talking to you) without lapsing into the mode of ‘bad monologuing’. Something I always wonder when I pick up reading a ‘new’ author (can I count my experience with Mr. Litore as ‘new’ anymore? probably not) is whether their writing quality is consistent across projects. It is my opinion that Litore’s work maintains its quality without being monotonous within itself.

There are some themes echoed between them, but they are not identical tales dressed in different clothes. Both deal with ideas of isolation and alienation and loss (facets of a different, whole nameless thing), but both do so in a slightly canted way from one another.

In a way, I would enjoy this as a ‘shared world’ style of stories because these tales ignite in me a desire to play in writing again, in the Ansible cosmos. I cannot fathom that I'm alone in this thought.  I hope this is considered as much of a compliment as I feel it to be.

Both of these stories have lingered with me since I read them. In a moment of complete dissociation, I came back from daydreaming feeling very, very odd - and my mind immediately related it to how the Ansibles must’ve felt in these stories. If the contents of 15715’s transmission didn’t reach to the secret corners of terror in my soul, that moment and thought certainly did.

I imagine an entire collection of these stories - and I imagine using those stories the way a tabletop gamer might use the Manual of Planes or Beyond Countless Doorways for new destinations reached in unconventional ways. I very much hope that these stories continue (there is a promise for 15717).

For the sake of review sites, I have to talk about the stories individually, but my mind already considers them a singular unit. I’m including these singular breakdowns here. 

Ansible 15715 - All the Lovecraft Flavor, without the Antiquarian Verbiage!

The reviews that mention the Lovecraftian flare of this piece are spot-on. This is Weird Fiction without the Pulp aesthetic and it works very well. (I’m a fan of the aesthetic of Pulp era fictions, but love & appreciate when some of the ‘weirder’ parts of its spirit works into more contemporary pieces.)

It is a quick read, and the character’s voice is consistent to the characterization. I did not experience any "fridge moments" and the only question I had at any point in the story had everything to do with knowing something that I couldn’t know because the character couldn’t know it. (Oh, first person stories, our torrid romance continues!)

Per the reviews of other readers, I imagine this story will be fairly unsettling - for me, it was pretty delightful. My tastes already lie firmly in Lovecraftian territory. And my mind often wanders in pretty lonely and isolated modes.

Ansible 15716 - Leaves One Wanting - to hear from more Ansibles

As I said of Ansible 15715, this piece is a quick and smooth read with a voice consistent with the characterization.

It was difficult to read this as a ‘regular’ reader; I had several inclinations while reading it to do so as a college Lit major. Take that as you will, though to me it is pretty high praise. It is Science Fiction and it is on the borders of what some might label “Weird”, but it is also deeply felt in the way that so much of Litore’s work manages to be. It speaks with a voice worthy of closer inspection and introspection – everything literature can & should aspire toward.

Without getting into spoilers, this Ansible tale is gentler in some ways and harsher in others than the one preceding it. It sacrifices none of Litore’s skill at weaving together a good story and the right kind of cadence for the telling.

Whenever I try to find words to capture the emotions elicited by this story, I find myself at a lack – or perhaps simply unable to communicate them adequately through the means available. Apropos, given the story about which I’m speaking.

Hauntingly beautiful story.