Monday, 23 July 2018

Party Pieces–a series of vignettes–Childhood Party

Dressed in party best frock, favoured fluffy bolero
white ankle sock tops reflecting in newly polished patent leather Mary Jane’s.
Dining table laid in full spread abundance
Nice biscuits, broken ends bedding jelly babies on iced blankets
Spam sandwiches cut crust free,
triangles stacked on tiered cake stand castles
Trays of mother-made sausage rolls
butterfly cakes, icing sugar dancing onto sticky fingers
Followed by bowls of jelly, ice cream and trifle.
Paper hats and paper plates. Lucky dips and skipping games.
Discarded pass-the-parcel wrappings litter the floor
Chairs disordered after moments of musical madness and barging badness
Scuffed Mary Jane’s walking home
bolero flavoured by strawberry jelly.

© Sheila Ash, 2018

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Review: Night's Slow Poison

Night's Slow Poison Night's Slow Poison by Ann Leckie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is available online at

Nicely worked story of a watchman on a cargo ship's encounter with one of its passengers. Neatly linking watchman Kels' memory of being bitten by a 'tea vonda' as a youth and consequential loss of his arm as its poison rapidly spread with the ***SPOILER ALERT *** infiltration of the ship by the passenger, a spy in search of the route through the Crawl, the defensive perimeter surrounding the planet Ghaon. The passenger's deception is the 'slow poison' of the title, taking months to take effect. His cover story, of travelling to search for his unknown Ghaonish grandmother, softens Kels as he sees the eyes of high born Ghaon in the passeneger's face making his recall he own lost love for a high born Ghaon woman. However, Kels does 'step up' to 'do the right thing' when the spy is exposed in order to safeguard the secret route from the enemy the spy is contracted to, the Radchaai, whom all Ghoanians believe covet their planet and its resources.

ashramblings verdict 3* Leckie created a thoroughly believeable experience of life aboard a space cargo ship on a long journey, the boredom, the monotony, the peaks and troughs of passenger interactions, the claustrophobia, as month after month drag by. In an interesting cultural aspect to some of the characters they wear masks, while others and other cultures do not. In this tale the passenger does not wear such a mask, but has one nonetheless until his spy persona is revealed. Lots of ideas in play here, making the story a bit busy but then than just increases the claustrophobia and the paranoia

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Review: She Commands Me and I Obey by Ann Leckie

She Commands Me and I Obey She Commands Me and I Obey by Ann Leckie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is available online at in two parts at 

Political shenanigans, behind the scences plotting, scheming, political expediency, power plays enacted via "The Game" something akin to handball/ pelota de maya, played to the death to 'elect' Tetrarch of the four space stations or Precints. Wow betide the niave novice who stumbles upon this seeing only parts of the whole. The character names are beautiful descriptive ones, almost pay homage to Amerindian names, albeit that they are a bit confusing to begin with - my advise is to draw up a who is who list. Then there is the interplay between governance and religion with the opportunistic scheming abbot.

ashramblings verdict 3* So much packed in a short story. Leckie leaves enough unsaid that makes you want more - how will the young Aresh make his way and survive in this cut-throat world? why was he hidden to begin with? I read this as my first Ann Leckie to see if I fancied reading her The Imperial Radch Boxed Trilogy: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy series and the answer is a resounding yes.

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