8.23.2005

A Must-read Shiner Story

Any fans of Lewis Shiner must read Shiner's latest, "Perfidia," which genre fans may have missed since it came out in a literary journal, Black Clock. As good as the story is and as attractive the magazine (not to mention contributions by Steve Erickson, Shelley Jackson, Jonathan Lethem, Ben Marcus, Rick Moody, and others), it's twelve bucks that I might have saved had I known that it will be reprinted in the Subterranean magazine, sometime in the future. That story alone will make your subscription worth it. As for reading either market as a writer, they don't appear to have open submissions, a policy which might help justify spending a writer's hard-earned beer-money on them.

While "White City" was probably his most admirable before this publication (although I'm sure the editors of The Norton Book of SF would think of "The War at Home" which is admirable for compactness), this is truly Shiner's best (that I've read--admittedly, a little more than a third of his short fiction output).

Like most of Shiner's work, it's political, but I tend to admire the craft more than the politics myself, and the craft of this one is superb: rich in detail and plot, with significant characterization. A man bought a wire recorder off Ebay that purportedly has a bootleg recording of Glenn Miller, three days after he died, and at the end of the recording is the sounds of a violent scuffle. The collector goes to France to investigate if this recording is real (despite having a father who is near death himself). The Ebay collector finds far more than he expected and more than the government wants known. The last parenthetical remark is my biggest beef with the story. I can't imagine leaving my father like that without a pang--even if the story requires it for dramatic impact. It doesn't really get touched on, and certainly researching a recording that's waited sixty years to be found could wait a little longer. Other than that, this novella reads like Datlow's old Omni magazine. Go read, now!