Back to the Locus experiment - life has prevented my from posting these as I read them, so here are my thoughts on the next three stories in what is turning out to be a very thought-provoking and enjoyable collection.
Souls by Joanna Russ
I only know of Joanna Russ's reputation and of her landmark novel, The Female Man. The story here was pretty powerful in its own right and centers on a boy reflecting on the Viking invasion of his village, and the how motherly figure of the village uses the powers at her disposal to make the invasion as painless as possible. I liked the pacing, in that events started out relatively normal and built to a crescendo of fantastic.
The Way of Cross and Dragon by George R.R. Martin
I had just read this a couple of weeks ago in Dozois' wonderful collection Galileo's Children. Here are my thoughts from the review I wrote:
a far-future Catholic church is quite dominant, and has grown to include interstellar species. With a large galaxy colonized the influence of the bible is wide and varied. The protagonist is sent to squelch the roots of a heretic sect on one particular planet where Judas Iscariot is cast in an interesting light. This was a very strong tale that offered an interesting question of faith and the power of truth in the face of an uncompromising belief.The Persistence of Vision by John Varley
I've only read one piece of fiction by John Varley, The Golden Globe which I enjoyed the very much with its overt ode Shakespeare in a future setting. My first experience in reading his short fiction was a bit more thought-provoking, though no less enjoyable. The story tells the tale of a man wandering a disease-ravaged America, trying to find a place where he belongs. This story very much plays upon the adage of "In the land of the blind, is the man with sight king?" Varley does a great job of twisting this theme to his own great ends and also does a magnificent job of making a group of relatively normal people seem otherwise very alien. Good Stuff here and the collection continues to roll on.