Read The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon Free Online
Book Title: The Tomato Thief|
Date of issue: January 5th 2016
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
The author of the book: Ursula Vernon
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.53 MB
Edition: Apex Magazine
Read full description of the books The Tomato Thief:I reread The Tomato Thief since this novelette was nominated for a 2017 Hugo award (ETA: it won!), and I've upped my rating to 5 stars on reread. It's a marvelous southwestern desert story with an original mythology that tips its hat to Native American and Russian folklore (check out Koschei), and it's free online at Apex Magazine. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:
The Tomato Thief is Ursula Vernon's a sequel to Jackalope Wives, her Nebula award-winning short story about Grandma Harken and a jackalope woman accidentally trapped in between her shapes by Grandma Harken’s moodily attractive grandson. Now that her troublesome grandson has been shipped back east, she can relax in her desert home and enjoy ripe tomatoes from her garden in peace ... or not.
Her prized tomatoes start disappearing from the vine, with no footprints or signs to show who or what is the thief. She wrapped herself up in a quilt that night and sat in the rocking chair on the back porch. “We’ll see what kind of rat bastard steals an old lady’s tomatoes,” she grumbled.
(Grandma Harken thought of herself as an old lady, because she was one. That she was tougher than tree roots and barbed wire did not matter. You did not steal an old lady’s tomatoes. It was rude, and also, she would destroy you.)It takes a few nights and some creativity to evade the sleep spell that strikes her each night, but eventually she sees a shapechanging figure picking her beloved tomatoes. But Grandma Harken hides a bit of a soft heart under her gruff exterior, and when the thief turns out to be also a victim, Grandma Harken once again takes action to solve another person’s problem.
Like “Jackalope Wives,” The Tomato Thief is told in a folksy voice, and has a Native American-flavored mythology. In this sequel, the mythology is explored further and takes some unexpected turns. My favorites were the train-gods, who woke when the white men built train tracks across the desert, took over the trains, and chose as train-priests some of the laborers (mostly of Chinese descent) who had built the tracks, “[p]eople who had, with toil and tears, earned the gods’ regard.” The railroad magnates, who were furious when their trains developed a mind of their own, tried to take back control with the help of the government’s armies but ― after a couple of regiments were eaten by the train-gods ― they changed their minds. So: Freight got moved, more or less. Sometimes it wound up in the wrong place or was summarily dumped in the middle of nowhere. The machines were capricious gods. (This was part of the reason for the price of coffee.)
They were very good about letters, though. Anna’s grandson was the current train-priest, and he said that his god thought letters were prayers and moved them as a kind of professional courtesy.
You appreciated that sort of thing in a god.Grandma Harken is an endearing character, mixing grumpy determination and homespun wisdom. The Tomato Thief is longer and more fragmented than the wonderful “Jackalope Wives,” and didn’t have quite the same impact on me, but it's a delight to spend a little more time enjoying Grandma Harken’s blunt-spoken but insightful company, seeing this richly imagined, magical and dangerous world through her eyes.
Read information about the authorUrsula Vernon is a freelance writer, artist and illustrator. She is best known for the webcomic Digger and the children's books Dragonbreath and Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew. Ursula is also a prolific painter and the creator of the Biting Pear of Salamanca, a work which became an internet meme in the form of the "LOL WUT" pear.
Ursula's cover for Best in Show won the 2003 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration. She was nominated for the 2006 Eisner Awards in the category Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition for her work on Digger. She was also a guest of honor at Midwest FurFest 2004 and 2009, and the Artist Guest of Honor at Further Confusion 2010.
The daughter of an artist, she attempted to rebel and become a scientist, but in the end couldn’t fight her destiny. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes, draws, and in her words, “creates weird thingies.”
She also writes under the name of T. Kingfisher.
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