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Daughter of two Cuban political exiles, M.C.A. Hogarth was born a foreigner in the American melting pot and has had a fascination for the gaps in cultures and the bridges that span them ever since. She has been many things—-web database architect, product manager, technical writer and massage therapist—-but is currently a full-time parent, artist, writer and anthropologist to aliens, both human and otherwise.
Her fiction has variously been recommended for a Nebula, a finalist for the Spectrum, placed on the secondary Tiptree reading list and chosen for two best-of anthologies; her art has appeared in RPGs, magazines and on book covers.
on June 26, 2011 :
Okay, this is a great story, featuring the same species as (but without being a direct sequel to) "Songs from a Conch Shell Whistle." Details to follow.
The flaws: there are two or three references to brand-name stuff that feel slightly out of place with the implication that This Is The Future. I'm not quite sure how Future this is, and it's clearly AU Future anyway, but I got a giggle from each of those. (The narrator's camera is supposed to be an expensive film camera, not digital, and there's a comment about "training the cord from the shutter release" -- must be antique, if it's not got a cordless remote!)
Now that the totally tiny "this made me arch an eyebrow and/or giggle" stuff is out of the way, the rest?
It's great. The narrator, Simon Voar, is a jaded photographer who works to capture "The Moment" on film. He's nearly fetishizing it, but in an emotional way. And a career of photographing humans isn't giving him the high anymore, so he's off to check out aliens.
As a photographer, Simon has an attention to detail, an eye for color and composition, that make the descriptions rich. Vivid. He doesn't stint on non-visual descriptions, either -- the alien planet's air is right up there with things he notices. As a person, Simon needs to learn a lesson about emotions and about himself. And the Tsipia-alien to teach it is Omene, a married male who has a knack for guessing the meanings of human expressions, body-language, and tone of voice, even when the human himself is iffier about what he means.
He takes an interest in Simon, and wants to teach Simon how to be an artist in the Tsipia-alien way of art -- because Simon is missing something crucial, to Omene's way of thinking. (Simon *is* missing something, and Simon knows it too, if only unconsciously.) Does he succeed? That would be a spoiler. The ending is not pat, not tidy, not neat, and it satisfies me quite well.
(For those concerned -- while there are Adult Situations, so to speak, and discussion of the Tsipia-seeker reproductive and recreational biology, there is not a shred of direct "pr0n." Kissing, yes.)
(reviewed long after purchase)