Tor.com content by

Karin Tidbeck

Fiction and Excerpts [2]
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Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Sing

|| In a village on the distant colony of Kiruna, the outcast Aino has worked hard to created a life for herself. The fragile status quo is upset when the offworlder Petr arrives and insists on becoming a part of her life. But he has no idea what it will cost him, and has cost Aino, to belong to the people who sing with inhuman voices.

Five Stories That Serve Up Cannibalism

Stories of cooking humans have been around pretty much forever. In most cultures it symbolizes a horrific and transgressive act, and we can’t seem to leave it alone. We scratch at the theme like a scab: from witches popping children in their cauldrons, to Hannibal Lecter dining on liver with fava beans, to lurid re-tellings of real life cannibalism.

I picked the titles below for a range of cooking methods, reasons for cooking, and the ways in which the author deals with the subject. Bon appétit.

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Excursions Into Almost-Human Territory

On Christmas Eve, Santa shows up in Swedish homes to hand out Christmas presents. Of course, what it really is is an older family member in red clothes and a beard. Sometimes they wear a plastic Santa mask. When I was little, my grandfather played Santa. He showed up in a Santa mask, and I was terrified. It sort of looked like Grandpa, but I wasn’t sure those were his eyes behind the mask. Something was terribly wrong. My mother tells me I was terrified and cried until Grandpa took the mask off, and became himself again.

I’ve always been fascinated by the almost-human, and often return to it. I’m far from alone in my obsession. Folklore is full of humanoids with a strange or ominous agenda. There are Swedish creatures like the huldra woman, who lives in the forest and whose back is a rotten log. Some Swedish trolls look human but not quite: they’re taller and more beautiful, and sometimes you can spot a cow’s tail peeking out from under a skirt. In the 1950s and ’60s, the Grinning Man haunted lonely American highways, and Men in Black showed up in the wake of UFO flaps to ask nonsensical questions. In these creepypasta days, the Slenderman lurks at the edge of crowds and playgrounds, and black-eyed children knock on your door late at night and ask to be let inside. Centuries-old or modern, seen in real life or manufactured, these entities all have the same elements in common: they kind of look like us, but something is wrong, and they have strange agendas. It brings a very particular kind of fascination and fear to our minds.

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My Love Affair With Ancient Aliens

In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

I have always loved the idea that the world is greater and more mysterious than we will ever understand; that there are strange things moving in the far corners of the world and in our own backyard. That what we call our reality, our history, is just a story among many others. It could be because I was reared on fairy tales, mythology, and stories of weird beings in the Swedish countryside. No matter the reason, there it is.

There was a special moment when I walked over from the library’s children’s section into the adult section. There, I found a shelf that was different from the others: Disputed Phenomena, or as it would be classified in the modern Dewey system, 130-135. I devoured all the books on that shelf and was left hungry for more. I went on to empty the same section in the central city library, and then went for the esoteric shelves in used bookshops. I collected books on paranormal phenomena, mysterious places and cryptozoology. I loved two things in particular: humanoid beings that aren’t really human, and lost civilizations. That’s when I stumbled over Zecharia Sitchin’s The 12th Planet.

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Five Stories About Cannibalism

Stories of cooking humans have been around pretty much forever. In most cultures it symbolizes a horrific and transgressive act, and we can’t seem to leave it alone. We scratch at the theme like a scab: from witches popping children in their cauldrons, to Hannibal Lecter dining on liver with fava beans, to lurid re-tellings of real life cannibalism.

I picked the titles below for a range of cooking methods, reasons for cooking, and the ways in which the author deals with the subject. Bon appétit.

[People: it’s what’s for dinner]

Series: Five Books About…

Sing

In a village on the distant colony of Kiruna, the outcast Aino has worked hard to created a life for herself. The fragile status quo is upset when the offworlder Petr arrives and insists on becoming a part of her life. But he has no idea what it will cost him, and has cost Aino, to belong to the people who sing with inhuman voices.

This short story was acquired for Tor.com by consulting editor Ann VanderMeer.

[Read “Sing” by Karin Tidbeck]

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