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Maureen McHugh

Maureen McHugh(1959- )
Maureen F. McHugh has spent most of her life in Ohio, but has lived in New York City and, for a year, in Shijiazhuang, China. She is the author of four novels. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, won the Tiptree Award and her latest novel, Nekropolis, was a Book Sense 76 pick and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. McHugh is working on two novels, BabyGoth and Coming of Age in America. BabyGoth is a mother-daughter story: the Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets Alcoholics Anonymous. Coming of Age in America is a near future coming of age story — and a romance. Chloe is a trailer park girl at a nice college. Derek is a rejuvenated 72-year-old returning student. McHugh teaches writing at the John Carroll University in Cleveland and at the Imagination and Clarion workshops. She and her husband and two dogs used to live next to a dairy farm. Sometimes, in the summer, black and white Holsteins looked over the fence at them. Now she lives in Austin, Texas.

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After the Apocalypse: Stories like jewels

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After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

I’ve read Maureen McHugh’s “Useless Things” at least three times now, and I admire it more with each rereading. It appears just a bit less than halfway through McHugh’s thought-provoking short story collection, After the Apocalypse. The first-person narrator is a woman living well outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, in a time when the United States seems on the brink of collapse: the economy is terrible, and water is extremely scarce in the Southwest — a time that doesn’t feel very far away from today. The narrator lives hand-to-mouth making dolls, particularly dolls called “reborns” that look almost, but not quite, real. She’s alone in her house but for her friendly dogs most days, which only makes her nervous when South American laborers crossing the border stop by her house looking for... Read More

The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol 2: More disturbing than Vol 1

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The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2 edited by Gordon Van Gelder

I read the first volume (The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, published 2009) before I tackled this one, published in 2014. It's only been five years, but I detected a darkening of the tone. Maybe I'm imagining it, maybe it's just me, but it seemed to me that the earlier volume contained stories that set out to go to strange places and, as a consequence, were sometimes disturbing, while this one contained stories that set out to be disturbing.

Consequently, given that "dark and disturbing" isn't my preference, I very nearly gave this one three stars instead of four — reflecting my reduced enjoyment, not reduced quality. These are still... Read More

Women Destroy Science Fiction! The Stories: Special audiobook edition

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Women Destroy Science Fiction! Lightspeed Magazine Special Issue: The Stories edited by Christie Yant, Robyn Lupo, Rachel Swirsky

Last June, Hugo-winning Lightspeed Magazine, which is edited by John Joseph Adams, devoted an entire issue (Women Destroy Science Fiction!, June 2014, issue #49) to female science fiction writers and editors. Under Christie Yant’s and Robyn Lupo’s editorial leadership, they accepted 11 original short science fiction stories and 15 original pieces of SF flash fiction. Rachel Swirsky chose and reprinted 5 stories previously published elsewhere. Last month, Skyboat Media and Blackstone Audio released an audio version of the stories from Women Destroy Science Fiction. They gave these their usual excellent attention, casting each story’s... Read More

Magazine Monday: Apex Magazine, Issues 31 through 33

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Apex Magazine is a monthly e-magazine that publishes two short stories, one reprint story, a nonfiction piece and an interview in each issue, together with the occasional poem. In the three issues I read, the reprint fiction tended to outshine the original fiction -- which doesn’t mean the original fiction was bad, just that it couldn’t quite live up to the standard set by the well-chosen older stories. The interviews are thoughtful and generally go well beyond the usual topics, either to discuss the author’s work in considerable detail or to go into areas not normally explored in most interviews. The nonfiction is variable in topic but uniformly strong work. A subscription to Apex Magazine seems to be worth the $19.95 per year asking price, though the most recent issue suggests some caution.

In the December 2011 issue (No. 31), the editor-in-chief, Lynne M. Thom... Read More

The Secret History of Fantasy: Stories that redefine the genre

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The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle

The basic premise of the SECRET HISTORY anthologies (there's also a science fiction one, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which I haven't read) is that there's a type of writing that got missed or buried because other things were more popular, more commercial, or dodged the spec-fic labeling. Certainly that's the thrust of Peter S. Beagle's introduction, and the two other non-fiction pieces by Ursula K. Le Guin and editor David G. Hartwell.
... Read More

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014: An enjoyable collection

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014 edited by Rich Horton

I've been reading a lot of anthologies lately, including another of the several "Year's Best" collections (the Jonathan Strahan one). I was pleased to find that, unlike some of the others, this one matched my tastes fairly well for the most part.

I enjoy stories in which capable, likeable or sympathetic characters, confronted by challenges, confront them right back and bring the situation to some sort of meaningful conclusion. I was worried when I read the editor's introduction and saw him praising Lightspeed and Clarkesworld magazines, because they can often be the home of another kind of story, in which alienated, passive characters are... Read More