Autistic Book Party, Episode 67 and a half: Short Story Smorgasbord

A.C. Buchanan, “Below Salt-Heavy Tides” (Mermaids Monthly, July 2021)

[Autistic author] The story of a selkie who gave up both their skin and their access to the Earth’s dying oceans in exchange for the chance to join a colony in space. When they unexpectedly encounter magic and life on this supposedly-barren new world, it leads to an outcome for both species that no one could have predicted. I think autistic readers will find a lot to relate to in this one – both the seal-out-of-water feeling of being a type of being who doesn’t quite fit where they are, and the strange recognition and not-quite-kinship that emerges at the end. [Recommended-2]

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Jennifer Lee Rossman, “Spider” (Unfading Daydream, Issue #5; I read it reprinted on Rossman’s blog)

[Autistic author] Rossman, who is both autistic and physically disabled, writes a heartwarming story of a disabled teenager who cobbles together a mech for herself to win a robot fighting competition. I’m not sure how I feel about the teenagers wanting to stay unhoused and live in a junkyard, but the playful approach to assistive technology in the story is just really fun, and so are the supportive, mutually helpful relationships between the teenage characters, disabled and not. [YMMV, but I liked it]

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Bogi Tak√°cs, “The Prophet, to His Angel” (Fantasy, Issue 76, February 2022)

[Autistic author] A compelling poem about the strange, intense, erotically charged relationship between a Jewish prophet and the angel who brings messages to him. [Recommended-2]

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Luke Sekiguichi, “What To Expect When Your Daughter Returns From Neverland” (February 7, 2022)

[Autistic author] A heartrending story, in list form, about the parent of the protagonist in a portal fantasy, the fear and ambivalence they feel about what’s happening to their child. While this is a good portrayal of a parent’s worry for their child’s safety, it also goes further and is more complicated than that in ways I won’t spoil. [Recommended-2]

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Yoon Ha Lee, “Bonsai Starships” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 10, 2022)

[Autistic author] A child named Kei grows up in a temple that grows starship engines in the form of bonsai trees. When she learns that the purpose of these engines is more sinister than she supposed, she takes matters into her own hands. I found the way Kei is portrayed, the way she subtly and gently begins to question her beliefs, to be especially poignant. [Recommended-2]