Autistic Book Party, Episode 60 and three quarters: Short Story Smorgasbord

Richard Ford Burley, “Hello, World” (The Colored Lens, Summer 2016)
[Autistic author] An AI prototype named Alice has to be raised by human parents before her mind is complete. When her human mother dies unexpectedly, her human father fights to keep custody of a robot daughter he’s grown to love. This story is all from Alice’s point of view, and while it’s not an Autism Story, Alice is written in a way that make the parallels between her and an autistic character very plain. She works hard to learn the meaning of human facial expressions and of questions about preferences and feelings. Alice matures over time in a naturalistic way which resists being read as a story of “healing” or “overcoming” – she’s simply gaining knowledge and skills in a loving environment. [Recommended-2]

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Robin M Eames, “The moon under water” (overland, 233 summer 2018)
[Autistic author] This is an intertextual meditation on the role of disability (and the origins of ableism) in human myth and fantasy. There’s a character who uses a wheelchair and is also described as “tapping her fingertips… in anxious patterns” in a way that might or might not be meant to evoke autistic stimming. But this character’s exact possible diagnoses are not the point – the point is the poetic and incisive way that Eames weaves the different narratives together, changing their details here and there to expose what is normally left out, and it’s really well done. [Recommended-2]

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Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of You” (Nightmare, Issue 84, September 2019)
[Autistic author] A nicely creepy horror story about a VR game called “Vore,” which is what it says on the can. The game fulfils a fantasy that seems strange, but harmless at first – until its aftereffects settle into the players’ brains in ways they can’t undo, and the question arises of where this game came from, exactly. Fans of creepypasta and non-linear narratives will enjoy this one. [Recommended-2]

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Amber Bird, “who i am” (Fireside, November 2019)
[Autistic author] A short, sweet love poem in which the narrator compares zirself to a river. I really like this one. [Recommended-2]

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RB Lemberg, “To Balance the Weight of Khalem” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #300, March 26, 2020)
[Autistic author] The tale of a genderqueer refugee student, a manta ray shapeshifter, a spherical city that hangs in the air, and a magical onion. This isn’t Birdverse, but its lushly detailed descriptions have a similar feel. The descriptions of food in particular will make readers hungry. [Recommended-2]

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Ashley Deng, “D├ęgustation” (Nightmare, Issue 94 – July 2020)
[Autistic author] The protagonist in this one isn’t technically an autistic person – she’s a member of a family of fungus people disguised as humans – but the ways she is treated by normal humans, and the careful, painful way she works to figure out what they expect of her, map so precisely onto common autistic experiences that I can’t help but call it an #ownvoices autism story. It’s also a subversion of the “secret aliens/monsters among us” trope – they are among us, but they’re just regular people trying to fit in. In the end, the protagonist learns to savor her unusual gifts for their own sake, instead of waiting for an ableist human’s approval. [Recommended-1]