November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In the spirit of the month, instead of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m going to write a short review every day, up to a maximum of 300 words. Think of it is NaNoReMo (National Novel Review Month). This month I’ll do short reviews of books, varieties of tea, and even individual short stories as the mood strikes. So read on!
I’ve gotten very good at being polite. I tamp down my fear and my rage and pretend it doesn’t exist, because acknowledging it can be dangerous — women who aren’t polite aren’t respected.
That’s because I’m a coward.
Brooke Bolander is not a coward. Or rather, she refuses to be ladylike. Her writing plucks a visceral, angry chord, with its profanity and politics and questioning of gender norms. And her newest story Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies, published in this month’s issue of Uncanny Magazine, is an excellent example.
The narrator of Talons may not have a name we can understand, but she has a thirst for life that anyone can get behind — especially if they were murdered in cold blood by an entitled young man who only wanted attention, like she was. Luckily for her, our narrator isn’t human at all, but a cosmic being capable of reincarnation. And she wants revenge:
You may not remember my name, seeing as how I don’t have one you could pronounce or comprehend. The important thing is always the stories—which ones get told, which ones get co–opted, which ones get left in a ditch, overlooked and neglected. This is my story, not his. It belongs to me and is mine alone. I will sing it from the last withered tree on the last star–blasted planet when entropy has wound down all the worlds and all the wheres, and nothing is left but faded candy wrappers.
If you liked Bolander’s Hugo-nominated And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead, read this story. If you’re angry about being minimized and neglected, and need a voice that knows that pain, read this story.