Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.
I've been reading his chapbook Show and Tell and Other Stories in bites and nibbles over the past couple of days*. Both last night, on my way to meet friends for drinks in Brooklyn, and this morning, on my way to work, I arrived at my subway destination and had to finish the story I was reading on the hoof. I couldn't put the chapbook down.
Each of the six stories is odd, surprising, and moving in its own way. There's a good reason that Gardner Dozois chose the book's one original story to reprint in his upcoming Year's Best Science Fiction. You should get a copy of Show and Tell yourself, for only $7.00 including shipping.
*Yes, I've had the chapbook since WorldCon in August and should have read it sooner, but I am a notoriously slow reader and, more to the point, an absent-minded and disorganized shelver of books.
There are a lot of sirens racing to and fro in midtown, maybe in search of the source of this mysterious smell that's hanging around:
I didn't smell it on the street, but I sure smelled something funny in the elevator.
One of the stranger things about Utah fast-food joints is the ubiquity of a condiment known simply as "fry sauce." I didn't exactly realize how strange it was, though, until I moved out of Utah.
An alert reader (sadly anonymous) of this blog brought a recent Associated Press article about fry sauce in Utah to my attention:
It seems to have awakened a craving in me for the pinkish stuff, which I rarely think about unless I'm actually in a Utah fast-food joint. Fortunately, the craving can be overruled and outclassed by a visit to that Belgian frites joint on Second Avenue that has fifty varieties of mayonnaise, but fry sauce remains a weirdly compelling taste sensation, not just for me but for people all over the West, it now seems.
We know this is what you've been looking forward to all winter.
Speaking of which, I have a subway-tracks story of my own, though I was no hero, believe me.
I had lived in New York only about two years when I let someone do something stupid. It was late at night and I was waiting for the train on a thinly populated but by no means deserted D platform at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Near me, a girl who couldn't have been more than 20 was digging for something in the front pocket of her jeans. The jeans were so tight that she couldn't get her hand into the pocket very easily. When she finally latched onto whatever it was she was after and pulled it out, a few folded-up $20 bills popped out of her pocket along with her hand and went sailing out over the edge of the platform. They landed right in the rail bed.
The girl, who was slender and less than medium height, stared down at the bills in chagrin. "Shit," she said, "that's sixty bucks." She noticed me and came over. "Hey, mister, if I climb down there, will you help me up again?"
I should have said no way, but it was very late, the girl looked desperate, and who knows how long it would have taken to find an MTA employee and report the loss. (That's what you're supposed to dothere are signs on the trains telling you never to climb down onto the tracks if you lose something.)
This brief article from the New York Times begins by asking who hasn't thought about what you'd do if you fell onto the subway tracks. I've certainly wondered, and more to the point I've wondered what it would be like to press myself flat in the bed between the rails while the train thunders inches overhead. Now Wesley Autrey, who jumped onto the tracks to save another man, knows exactly what that's like. Holy shit.
Damn, this is a shame, and damn, I wish I'd known sooner:
Actually, when one works, one comes to a solution much more quickly than when one sits and thinks.