Focus on Cat Rambo plus A Little re Lights Out

Cat Rambo caught my attention when I received a preview for her short story Clockwork Fairies, which was subsequently posted on for free. (I mentioned it in this column from last year. I've been reading more of her short stories over the last few weeks and have enjoyed them every bit as much as I did Clockwork Fairies.


Raven is about a woman in a fragmenting marriage with only her modified cat to keep her company. The cat is supposed to be able to speak but is mostly inarticulate, while the protagonist is also experiencing communication difficulties. You can read the story in full here:

Grandmother’s Road Trip

Grandmother’s Road Trip is a poignant story about a family making the hard decision to move grandmother into a nursing home. Grandmother isn't just leaving her home; she's leaving her geographical area to go to a location more convenient to her daughter and granddaughter. As they travel by car they are haunted by the past, quite literally in this case. I like the complicated relationship between the three women in this story. Asking someone to give up their independence, even when it's for their own good, is difficult for everyone. Ms. Rambo does an excellent job illuminating the fragility of even the strongest of family connections, responsibilities and memories. You can read Grandmother's Road Trip here:

Magnificent Pigs

Magnificent Pigs ran in Strange Horizons in 2006 but I just saw it a few days ago. It immediately appealed to me as it references one of my favorite children's books, Charlotte's Web. The story is told from the point of view of a loving older brother who is struggling to keep his farm and finances together in the wake of his parents' death. His little sister Jilly, who loves Charlotte's Web, is extremely ill. There are pigs aplenty in this story, as well as tattooing, the kind of caretaker problems many of us have experienced and lots of love. This one is my favorite so far.

Lights Out
Before I close up shop for the week I wanted to briefly mention a TV show called Lights Out. This show was pitched to me as Breaking Bad with boxing. Obviously I couldn’t resist that. It's about an ex-heavyweight boxer named Lights Leary who is in some pretty deep debt. He's about to lose everything and is making a crucial mistake of lying to his wife about it. His brother is a gambler and a leech, making his living off of Lights. Their sister also owes her living to him as does their father, whose gym Lights purchased. (He bought a diner for sis.) The icing on the cake is pugilistic dementia, aka Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is just what it sounds like; a progressive neurological disease brought on by being hitting in the head a bunch of times. If he fights one more time he could gain everything or lose it all, including his sense of self.

Walter White from Breaking Bad is an amoral person who is put in a situation where he feels he has no choice but to behave badly, which gives him permission to do terrible things. Lights strikes me as quite the opposite. I tuned in after the series started, with an episode in the aftermath of Lights trying to make some money by beating someone up. He's obviously troubled by what he did and in subsequent episodes he moves away from illegal behavior. Like Walter he's extremely loyal to his family but unlike Walter this shows in his choices. When he's offered a lot of money to get in the ring with a rapist he says no, he won't do it. When he's told it was statutory rape, implying the assault is meaningless, he stands his ground and says he has daughters. This is the best kind of fatherly love; love in action, protecting his daughters by standing firm against a crime that is glossed over in the real sports world. Boxing isn't my kind of sport but I'll be watching this show and hoping Lights continues to try to do the right thing in the face of adversity. Lights Out airs on the FX network.

Bonus Treat:
Jason Turner is a cartoonist who is new to me. Someone, and I don't even remember who, linked me to these two little comics about birds doing the same kind of things humans do all the time. I thought they were hilarious and I hope you enjoy them too.