Casil, Cherryh, Clough

“Perfect Stranger” by Amy Sterling Casil (in Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls)

We all have hopes, dreams, and expectations when it comes to our children. Some people will go farther than others to fulfill them. In this story, Casil looks at the effects of medical intervention and what is necessary versus what’s desirable. It’s a touching story about how our choices affect our relationships, and I highly recommend it. The relationship between Danny and his father haunts me.

Yes, I’m going to be looking for more of her work, and I suggest others do as well.

About her writing, Casil says,

I am known mostly as a short fiction writer in science fiction and fantasy, but I’ve published over 20 nonfiction books on numerous different topics. My first novel IMAGO, which expands on short stories I published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, is still available, as is my first collection of short fiction and poetry, WITHOUT ABSOLUTION. I am a working writer and have written for new media publications since 2003.

“Perfect Stranger” was first published in F & SF in 2006, and readers chose it as favorite story of the month at the time. I think it’s a better story than “To Kiss the Star,” which is a story I’d recommend for any new readers coming to my work. You can find the typical comments about that story online as it was nominated for a Nebula Award, but readers should know that I am currently novelizing what happened next to the main character in “To Kiss the Star,” the disabled girl Mel, who gets the chance to pilot a living space ship and explore the stars. I began writing “Perfect Stranger” while I was pregnant with my baby Anthony, who had Down Syndrome and died in 2005. I wasn’t ready to write the story at that time, and my thoughts were not mature on the issue of what it might mean to genetically change your child and “improve him” until about a year after Anthony passed. I have been thinking about doing a collection of my stories about fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. This story deals with something that is a bedrock theme for me as a writer – what does it mean to be a parent, what is a family, and where do we really stand with technology and how it affects our lives?

You can find Amy Sterling Casil at her blog,, incipita vita nova.

Hammerfall by C. J. Cherryh

Hammerfall is a meaty standalone science-fiction novel that deals with prejudice, madness, visions, and a man who has the inner strength to follow his visions and lead his people — all of his people, not just the tribe he was born to — despite his father’s attempts to kill him. It’s not necessarily a light or quick read — it took me some work to get into the opening of the novel, which was replete with terms such as Lakht, First Descended, Qarain, beshti, Oburan, the Ila, Tarsa, and Kais Tain — but it was worth the effort to immerse myself into it.

I’m late coming to Cherryh’s work, and I’ll definitely take suggestions on what else I should read by her. For those who have not read this book yet, I do recommend it.

You can find C. J. Cherryh on her Website,, the Worlds of C. J. Cherryh.

“Gray to Black” by Brenda W. Clough (in Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls)

This story is delightfully creepy, showing an inadvertent alien encounter and how it changes the main character, to the point she can’t even understand her sister’s worries. When I first read the story, I thought the ending felt unresolved. However, the story stayed with me, and I don’t think any other ending would have worked.

Clough has a second story in this book as well, “A Mighty Fortress.” I enjoyed this as well, and I will be seeking out some of her novel-length work.

What she says about her writing:

I am like the Elves in Tolkien: I put all that I love into everything I make. “Gray to Black” was inspired by the thrilling research they are doing these days into parasites and their relationship to their hosts. So creepy! It just cries out to be put into fiction. If you want to read more of my work, e-readers would enjoy REVISE THE WORLD, which is available at Book View Cafe and everywhere where fine e-fiction is sold. Or if you want a hardback novel, my Tor novel HOW LIKE A GOD is still around.

You can find Brenda Clough at

Note: I originally received Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls in a giveaway from SF Signal.