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Vylar Kaftan

Vylar Kaftan won a Nebula for her alternate history novella The Weight of the Sunrise. She has published about 50 short stories in Asimov’s, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and other places. She lives in the Bay Area.

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Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water: We are interested in what Kaftan does next

Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water by Vylar Kaftan

Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water is a 2019 novella by Vylar Kaftan. The story opens with two characters, Bee, our narrator, and Chela, in jeopardy in a very unusual setting, and takes us places we did not expect.

Bee is trapped in a unique and horrifying prison: a cave complex on a planet far from Earth. She has one companion, Chela, and they have banded together to brave the dangers of the caves: the risk of drowning, narrow tunnels that could trap and suffocate a prisoner, deep shafts and large predatory insects. They have never seen another prisoner. The wardens leave boxes of goods with a guiding beacon for them to find. The boxes contain food and other necessary supplies, and sometimes a whimsical item like a postcard. It’s often a race to get to the boxes before the insects find them, and the boxes, their arbitrary placement and the str... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nebula-Nominated Short Stories

Seven short stories from six sources have been nominated for the Nebula Award. Six of them are available for free online, so by following the links in this article, you’ll be able to find them and pick the one to which you’d give the prize.

The only exception to the “available online” category is Harlan Ellison's story, “How Interesting: A Tiny Man,” which was pulled from the internet when the Nebula voting period ended, and which is therefore available only in the February 2010 issue of Realms of Fantasy. In my opinion, you’re not missing the winner if you can’t track this one down. It’s a well-written story, as one would expect from Ellison, about a man (the narrator) who creates a five inch tall man whom he teaches to speak, refuses to name, and dresses in tiny suits. All is going well until the creator and the man appear on a Sunday morning news show, and so... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, October/November 2012

Sheila Williams, the editor of Asimov’s, says that the annual October/November issue is “slightly spooky.” There are a few frights in the magazine, as well as some solid science fiction, but overall, I was generally disappointed in this double issue.

Alan Smale’s novella, “The Mongolian Book of the Dead,” was not one of the disappointments; to the contrary, it is a nicely imagined tale of what might happen if the Chinese decide to mount a military invasion of Mongolia — an independent landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China. I enjoyed Smale’s use of folklore, fantasy and politics as seen through the eyes of an American caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, a man who serves as a linchpin for the plans of an ugdan, the female equivalent of a shaman. The shadow of Chinggis Khan an... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, February 2013

The February 2013 issue of Asimov’s is a delight from cover to cover. This time around, it’s the longer pieces that really given it is heft.

“The Weight of the Sunrise” by Vylar Kaftan is a fascinating alternate history novella that offers a pointed perspective on American history, serving as a sort of bookend to the recent film, “Lincoln.” Slavery was an evil obvious even to those who practiced human sacrifice and saw nothing wrong with incestuous marriages of royalty, as did the Incas, as Kaftan makes clear. Kaftan envisions an Incan civilization that has escaped the ravages of Spanish conquistadors with military cunning. Smallpox still troubles the Incas, though they have learned in this tale, unlike in life, to manage it through quarantine, thanks to the insight of a great physician. This makes it a strong and wealthy civilization in the 18th century when the A... Read More

Paper Cities: Diverse anthology

Paper Cities by Ekaterina Sedia

Bring up urban fantasy nowadays and most readers will probably assume that you’re talking about such authors as Laurell K. Hamilton, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon and so on, but in this new anthology from Senses Five Press, which is edited by Ekaterina Sedia, Paper Cities... Read More