Welcome to the Museum of Torture by Yoko Ogawa

I think we’ve all be there, and anyone who says they haven’t is lying. Or maybe I am just a twisted individual who should get my head looked at. What I’m talking about, of course, is the break up gone so horribly bad that you begin fantasizing about all the horrible things that could (and should!) happen to your newly minted ex. Maybe it’s just hoping they look stupid in front of their friends. Maybe it’s that they lose something important. Maybe you have some revenge fantasy so elaborate you’ve settled on the exact number of times you will stab them in the face. (It’s six). Okay, maybe not the last one. Maybe.

Yoko Ogawa’s Welcome to the Museum of Torture is kind of about that. A woman’s boyfriend walks out after she can’t stop talking about the murder in her apartment complex. This sets in motion the events that carry the woman to a museum she’s never noticed before in town, a museum that occupies a creepy old house. It’s the Torture Museum, naturally, and the museum only displays instruments of torture that can be proven to have been used. Continue reading…

Power Armor: A Love Story by David Barr Kirtley

When I was a wee lass, I had a bit of an unhealthy preoccupation with the game Mech Warrior 2. This interest in giant machinery grew naturally into a pre-teen obsession with Gundam Wing and then later The Big O. I don’t think anyone was surprised by my fangirl squealing during Pacific Rim. In short, I love battle mecha. What is strange though, and even I admit this, is that it took me a really long time to come around to power armor and battle suits. The amount of resistance I threw up for the Iron Man movies was rather uncharacteristic. I continue to find myself hesitant to accept the smaller, precursors to my beloved giant warbots.

My reticence is waning, though. In large part due to stories like David Barr Kirtley’s Power Armor: A Love Story, which is about  time traveling renegade Anthony Blair, who never-ever-ever takes off his power armor. As you could probably assume from the title, there is also a woman. A woman who does not want Anthony Blair in his power armor for a variety of reasons, including the desire to be close to the man in the iron suit. But also to maybe kill him. Continue reading…

Winter’s Wife by Elizabeth Hand

Every once in a while, I get the urge to drop everything and move back to Michigan in order to live in a shack. Winter’s Wife is not about Michigan; it’s about Maine. I’ve never been to Maine, but based on the stunning descriptions in this story, it sounds a lot like Michigan but with an ocean and an obsession with seafood instead of venison. I may be way off mark here on this, but now I’m thinking Maine might be lovely, too.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve got a small love affair going on with magical realism. There’s something about stories that start out ordinary and then skew themselves into a strange and peculiar fantasy. The dovetail here is well worth the wait, which I don’t always think is the case. Continue reading…