Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany
Edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell
Cover Artist: John Jennings
Review by Sam Tomaino
Rosarium Publishing Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780990319177
Date: 03 August 2015 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Stories for Chip is a festschrift for Samuel R. Delany with contributions by more than thirty writers. The vast majority are short stories, with a few articles. I will be reviewing only the short stories. Some stories are not the sort one can summarize easily. But the vast majority of stories here are worthy of a Delany tribute.
The first entry is "Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005 - Output from a nostalgic, if somewhat misinformed, guydavenport strorybot, in the year 2115" transcribed by Eileen Gunn -+- This tells us part of the story of a road trip with the two named authors. It does get a bit fanciful, so one assumes it is partly fictional. It's perfectly charming and a great way to start this collection.
"Billy Tumult" by Nick Harkaway -+- The titular character is a psychic surgeon. He gets into the minds of people with a psychological issue and shoots it down, eliminating it. This job seems to be taking place in a Wild West scenario but another kind of story rears its ugly head giving Billy more than a little trouble. He needs some help with this one. Wonderfully imaginative!
"Voice Prints" by devorah major -+- Our narrator is someone who can tell the aliens from humans and they want to find out how. They have used torture and imprisonment to find out and our narrator has actually told them but they have not understood or believed. Our narrator find a way to win, at least for a while. Nicely done.
"Clarity" by Anil Menon -+- Our narrator's elder brother's wife died tragically and he had sold his business and given the narrator the proceeds. He has also given him his eleven-year-old daughter, Chandini, into his care. Our narrator, his wife and two daughters have welcomed Chandini into their family. He has also taken his brother's glass desk, which the brother could not sell before he committed suicide. His life is pleasant but reality starts to shift with a complete turnaround. Well-written, very unsettling tale.
"When Two Swordsmen Meet" by Ellen Kushner -+- This begins with "When two swordsmen meet. no one knows what to expect." Kushner then gives us three, very short and very elegant stories that show that. Just perfect.
"For Sale: Fantasy Coffin (Ababuo Need Not Apply)" by Chesya Burke -+- Ababuo would like to purchase a fantasy coffin to be buried in. These are coffins made, not in the traditional shape, but in the shape of animals. Ababuo is taken by one which is a small white animal. But she cannot be buried in the ground because she is a Nantew yiye<.i> child who has a special job ushering souls from the dead or dying and taking them into herself. Her soul is not pure and if she was buried, the earth of her native Ghana would reject it and punish those responsible. Her time doing this is limited until she finds release. This was another very imaginative story with an absolutely beautiful ending
"Holding Hands with Monsters" by Haralami Markov -+- A man takes on a monstrous lover and things do not end well. A Chilling little tale.
"Song for the Asking" by Carmelo Rafala -+- Brother Sunde is a Brother of the Church in some sort of fantasy world. He is traveling by ship to bring his abbot something special, a woman whose singing has special powers. He also has an orphan boy with him that he wants to bring into the Church. But the sailors are fearful of raiders and the woman. Things eventually come to a head. Good, solid little tale.
"Kickenders" by Kit Reed -+- Melanie and Sarah are tired of dealing with their sexual harassing boss they call Dumbo. He is the son of the owner of the company who has done something to his father to render him unconscious. They know if they could hire someone named Senski, he could fix things for them. How they do that and what happens makes for another great story from an old pro.
"Heart of Brass" by Alex Jennings -+- Althea Dayo fights crime in her hometown of Seattle as a super hero called Brass Monkey. She gains her powers by putting on a mask. But things are not easy for her in her personal life and she gets very little respect as Brass Monkey. But she perseveres and finds a way. A great look at the heart of a hero.
"Empathy Evolving as a Quantum of Eight-Dimensional Perception" by Claude Lalumière -+- Professor Dexter Van hates humanity and wants to see it extinct. He travels forward to a time when that is true. Earth is now dominated by evolved octopuses and he manages to kill two of them on arrival. Another such creature "adopts" him and their consciousnesses merge but things are not as simple as that. Very much what would be called a New Age story and it works quite well.
"Be Three" by Jewelle Gomez -+- Tyrna wakes up not knowing where, or even, who, she is. A man named Nelson is at her bedside and she is afraid of him at first. Then, he tells of her of two lovers, Lynx and Strand and what they have done to stay together in the repressive society of Society City. He demonstrates more of their determination to stay together through a special art that he has and the magic of just one word. Gomez' prose is a big part of making this one beautiful.
"Guerilla Mural of a Siren's Song" by Ernest Hogan -+- Pablo Cortez is an "infamous guerilla muralist from the wild, crumbling concrete and stucco overgrowth of L.A." hired to experience the Sirens of Jupiter. A beautiful Zulu woman named Willa Shembe will use her powers to experience his thoughts. Things do not go as the authorities would like but Pablo is pleased. Wildly beautiful.
"An Idyll in Erewhyna" by Hal Duncan -+- This one is impossible to describe or summarize. It's the kind of story that ended the New Age. If you like that kind of story, maybe this is more to your taste than mine.
"Nilda" by Junot Diaz -+- This one is a bittersweet reminiscence of a young African American about when he was a teenager and his brother, Raja, had a beautiful girlfriend named Nilda. Unsentimental, realistic view of life.
"The First Gate of Logic" by Benjamin Rosenbaum -+- Fift is not quite five years old but has been judged old enough to take part in the ceremony known as The Long Conversation. Fift has three bodies and nine parents. They are called Father and Mother but that is not based on their actual gender. They argue about birthing another child which would be beneficial to Fift. That's just a few elements in this wildly imaginative tale.
"River Clap Your Hands" by Sheree Renée Thomas -+- A simple, but classic story, Ava, is partly a creature of the water and it calls to her. It ends as expected. But this is really beautifully written and gives a great sense of location.
"Haunt-type Experience" by Roz Clarke -+- Megan is a ghost-hunter with Dan with whom she is in love, but other issues in her life might derail her. Unsettling
"Eleven Stations" by Fábio Fernandes -+- Our narrator contemplates cryosleep or letting go of life. Interesting.
"Legendaire" by Kai Ashante Wilson -+- A mother worries about her son's future. He is drawn to dangerous things and people. Nice look at a very different culture.
"Characters in the Margins of a Lost Notebook" by Kathryn Cramer -+- Our narrator tells us vignettes about her friend, Jack, a great science fiction writer and other people she comes in to contact with. Entertaining.
"Hamlet's Ghost Sighted in Frontenac, KS" by Vincent Czyz -+- Logan, Jim Lee and the crowd in a bar in Kansas. Logan still wondering about the death of his father and is certain that his uncle is responsible. Some back story thrown in. Nicely done.
"Each Star a Sun to Invisible Planets" by Tenea D. Johnson -+- William wakes up on a secluded hillside, not knowing how he got there. He finds a datacorder in his pocket and proceeds to play it. He finds out about his life, making for another good story, succinctly done in three pages.
"Clones" by Alex Smith -+- Two stories: One a man looking for life in outer space, the other looking for love in a bar on Earth. They come together but not in a particularly interesting way.
"The Last Dying Man" by Geentajali Dighe -+- Our narrator and Nisha race to record all the information about the people of the world while the Destroyer advances. When they process the last dying man, things come to a head and what is going on is revealed. Liked the way this one ended.
"Capitalism in the 22nd Century" by Geoff Ryman -+- Graça and Christina are sisters who have found a way to escape Earth and the Chinese who appear to have absolute power. Christina disdains her AI connection but Graça relies upon it. At the end, Christina makes what she thinks is the best decisions for her. Another good story from Ryman.
"Jamaica Ginger" by Nalo Hopkinson and Nisi Shawl -+- In a steampunk New Orleans, Plaquette works for the miserly Msieu, doing the fine work on the automaton porter that he is making for the Pullman company. Her father can't work at that job because he is afflicted with "jake leg". Her mother has been impersonating him to keep his job. Her prospects are dim until she takes action. Great story.
"Festival" by Chris Brown -+- In a future America where freedom is a lot less, Eden becomes involved with revolutionaries. Not much new here.