Weekend Shorts: Wool #4 and Above the Factory

The UnravelingWool #4: The Unraveling, by Hugh Howey
I have to admit, the wool/knitting metaphors are getting a bit precious, especially considering that there’s very little actual wool in this story and it’s not ever used for crafty things! But I also have to admit that they get the job done, as this story is, in fact, about the unraveling of our favorite silo full of people.

It is also knitted together quite well, trading off between the story of Juliette, who has gone out for a cleaning and managed not to die just yet, and the stories of the people still in the silo who are variously surprised, angry, terrified, and motivated to war by the failed cleaning.

There’s not much real action in this story — it’s more of a bridge to what’s clearly coming next — but we do learn a lot about this strange world of silos and secrecy, and I am very excited to see what’s coming next.

It’s interesting, as I go through this series, to remember that it started as just that one ridiculously amazing story and then managed to turn into a pretty strong series. Either Howey developed an unnecessarily complete world for his first story or he’s a master of retcon; either way I’m loving it.

“Above the Factory”, by Jerry Gabriel
I was listening to an old episode of that Literary Disco podcast I mentioned a while back, and the main segment was about this story. The three… panelists, I guess?, didn’t particularly like the story, but it sounded really interesting to me so I thought I’d go ahead and read it anyway.

It’s hosted on a site called Five Chapters, where apparently they serialize short stories in five chapters over five days, which seems pretty cool and like something I will be checking out again. And perhaps if I had read the story one chapter at a time, like I am managing to do with Wool, it might have come out better.

But as it is, the five chapters don’t flow terribly well into one whole story, or I guess really the first three chapters are one story and the second two a different one. In the beginning, it’s all about how this young married couple has moved across the country into a house they’ve bought without, apparently, terribly much inspection, considering that on the Monday after they move in they are surprised by the people going to work in their basement, which turns out to be a small factory for widgets of some sort or other. The first three chapters cover the couple coming to terms with this factory thing in their own ways and deciding it’s a pretty okay thing.

In the second half-ish, though, the story moves to a coworker of the husband who is obsessed with the fact that said husband is a happy person, because happy people are obviously hiding something and so the coworker MUST know what it is. Things kind of go off the rails here, with the coworker weaseling his way into the house but never finding out anything because the girl he brings along wanders off into the night and then the married couple (spoilers?) decides they don’t like their house after all and decide to leave.

It is really weird, and although I get that the author was trying to do a more thinky story with the random factory as a symbol for whatever, I would have much preferred a vignette of what life is like with a factory in your basement, because that is certainly not a thing I know about. And maybe if someone could explain to me about the date girl and her anger and the walking off thing? Because I did not get that at all.

Any recommendations for cool short stories I can read this week?

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