Autistic Book Party, episode 40 and a half: Short Story Smorgasbord

Bogi Tak√°cs, “Trans Love Is” (Nerve Endings anthology, 2016; reprinted as a free Patreon reward)

[Autistic author] A poem about the author’s relationships and family. It’s speculative, in my view, because magic and magical folklore are mentioned, but the bulk of the poem is about the quirks, difficulties, and minutiae of a household of non-neurotypical trans people. The picture that emerges is chaotic but enthusiastically loving, and a welcome antidote to stereotypes about what autistic people’s relationships must looks like. Also it comes with a shorter poem, “A Song of Expanses”. [Recommended-1]


Andi C. Buchanan, “Syren Song” (Kaleidotrope, summer 2017)

[Autistic author] A story about a teenage runaway siren in space. It’s very brief, but nuanced, and manages to subvert a couple of tropes in its short space. [Recommended-2]


Rose Lemberg, “Domovoi” (Uncanny, July 2017)

[Autistic author] A spooky poem which, ironically, is also a complaint against people’s need for spooky stories. When kindness and domesticity are not enough to satisfy the domovoi’s housemates, it turns to other means. [Recommended-2]


S.B. Divya, “An Unexpected Boon” (Apex, November 2017)

Kalyani, one of the viewpoint characters in this story, has a both OCD and autistic symptoms – a common combination in real life. I like the plot in which Kalyani meets a magical beetle who helps her interpret emotions, and then develops even stranger abilities. But I wish that more of the story was from Kalyani’s point of view, rather than that of her ableist brother. The narrative clearly shows that her brother is wrong about her, but it still robs us of the opportunity to follow Kalyani as she has some of the most pivotal magical experiences, and to find out how she feels about them and what they meant to her. [YMMV]


A. Merc Rustad, “The House at the End of the Lane is Dreaming” (Lightspeed, December 2017)

[Autistic author] A powerful story about video games and free will, and the kinds of agency we do and don’t allow to the people we tell stories about. There’s a really interesting disability thread in here, even though nobody technically identifies as disabled. The protagonist, Alex, is consistently given choices in which they’re punished for trying to help their sister, but their sister is injured when they don’t try to help. The game then pushes them to abandon their injured sister to die. What the game’s writers see as a compelling tragedy is actually an ableist narrative, in which they try to force the protagonist to accept the necessity of sacrificing people who can’t keep up. It’s satisfying that Alex finds another way to survive in the end, and that they get their revenge against their writers – even though, in typical Rustad fashion, that revenge is quite vicious as well. [Recommended-2]