Autistic Book Party, Episode 55 and four fifths: Short Story Smorgasbord

Corinne Duyvis, “Eight” (Strange Horizons, 14 November 2011)

[Autistic author] A time travel story in which a soldier’s future self comes back in time to prevent a disastrous war, but her advice doesn’t exactly prevent it – which means the military has to deal with a succession of different versions of her, each with their own experiences and agenda. The best thing about this story to me is the complicated friendship between the protagonist’s different selves. It’s a story that has a lot to say about regret, hidden agendas, uncertainty, and “what if”s, and it may be accidentally even more resonant now, in the proverbial Darkest Timeline, than when it was written. When do we stop trying to go back and fix things, and start holding on to what we have? [Recommended-2]

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Bogi Tak√°cs, “Changing Body Templates” (Strange Bedfellows, 2014; reprinted as a free Patreon reward)

[Autistic author] A political allegory (Bogi’s story notes about Soviet research in Hungary are very interesting!) about scientists trying to reverse-engineer a shapeshifting machine. The protagonist has plans to use the machine as a tool of resistance, but finds that things are a little more complicated than that. There’s no autism here, but the stressed-out scientists and their frustrating political environment are well drawn. [Recommended-2]

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Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, “What The Fires Burn” (PodCastle, August 2017)

[Autistic author] A steampunk horror story that dives gleefully into the Industrial Revolution’s sooty, gritty underbelly – but with magic! – and stands firmly against the idea that some lives don’t matter. Starving characters in Crapsack Worlds are not really my thing, but the story is well-written and drives its point home. [Recommended-2]

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Rivers Solomon, “Feed” (Patreon original, 2017; I read it reprinted in Transcendent 3)

[Non-neurotypical author] A near-future SF story about a teen with ADHD who constantly streams their life onto the Internet-like “Feed”, and who finds evidence of something alien in the woods that might just help their family. This is a story with a dark twist and without any answers; the Feed is genuinely helpful as an assistive technology for Zee, even when their family doesn’t understand, but it’s also easily used for surveillance and control. Non-neurotypical people often face a similar dilemma about the tech we use today. [Recommended-2]

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Andi C. Buchanan, “Blaze” (Vulture Bones, Issue 2, August 2018)

[Autistic author] A story about teenagers in a tourist town centered around a lake of fire. The families that live in the town have passed down magic through the generations that lets them sail or swim in the fire, though not effortlessly. Buchanan captures the trapped, exploited feeling of young people who have been taught to perform their heritage for other people’s entertainment – but also the power that lies with them as they discover something about their lake which opens up many more possibilities for their future. [Recommended-2]