Ah, the end of vacation. It's always bittersweet on the last day. My husband and I sit around, wondering if we should make a big gesture for the last day - a movie, dinner out, a hike - or if we should sit in our pajamas and play video games.
Currently, the latter is winning.
Last night we went out to After Stonewall (the lovely LGBT bookstore-gallery-art-for-everyday-living shoppe on Bank street) and after a lovely wine tasting ended up purchasing a few bottles, then headed over to visit friends and play games. That we ended up playing a zombie end-of-the-world kind of game left me a bit cold, but the evening itself was fun.
Speaking of endings, though...
"Conflagration," by Ian Stoner, writing as D.L.E. Roger
In case you're wondering why I've been reviewing the stories from the unreleased This is How You Die, it's because some of the stories - four so far, including mine - have been released as preview rewards for the kickstarter campaign for the Machine of Death Card Game. That I can't wait for the game is one thing, but that I get to review some of the stories from this awesome collection pre-release? Fantastic.
The best part of this second volume of stories about the ineffable Machine of Death for me is the way the stories really finish with a bang, and found new ways to weave the machine either into the sociology and culture of the world the writer crafted. In this case, with "Conflagration," the keystone of the story is in the hands of the wife of a man who is feeling his life - and marriage - creep away from him. She is a sifter of data, who has come up with a model to use the machine of death results to make predictions that lead to interventions - mathematical formulas to note when there are clusters of results linked to disease outbreaks, for example, might predict a future epidemic, and inoculations - while too late for those who will already die - might save the impact against larger populations as yet unborn (and untested). Basically, she uses the results of others to try and stave off what doesn't have to be a larger outbreak.
But when she discovers a different pattern, that's when things turn, and D.L.E. Roger's wonderful story delivers one of those crack endings I was talking about earlier. I won't spoil it, but I loved it - which has become the theme of this anthology so far.