Over the course of the next two weeks or so, I will be posting a little information on the authors contributing to the 2020 Visions Anthology. The order is the sequence I expect the stories to appear in the anthology. It opens with a short piece from Mary Robinette Kowal.
Over the five years I’ve known her (six if you include online interaction before we met in person) Mary has gone from a complete unknown to emerge as a rising force in speculative fiction. She won the Campbell Award for best new writer in 2008 on the strength of her short fiction alone. Her first novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, Tor, 2010, debuted only a few short days ago.
While I have not read the novel, I do know that short fiction is where Mary shines. In fact, very short work is some of her best. It’s no surprise; Mary spent a considerable amount of time writing weekly flash fiction stories to hone her skills. She has a brilliant ability to weave an intricate and fully-fleshed out story with a minimum of words.
Mary’s contribution to 2020 Visions, Birthright, weighs in at a hefty 1300 words. It is a tad long for flash fiction, but the execution is textbook Kowal, and every bit as good as the stories nominated for awards.
The story is intimate, covering the impact of population control on one couple. It builds a world well enough to extrapolate other ramifications, yet remains tightly focused on the personal experience and the emotional baggage carried by the characters. The story provides an instant jolt to get the anthology moving right out of the gate.