As a reader, there’s no feeling I like better than coming away from a story with envy, wishing I had been able to write what I’d just read. Okay, then come the feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, but when a story is powerful enough to cause that initial shock of jealousy, that is a damn good story.
“Contains Multitudes” is one of those.
I happened to click on the link in my email because I ran across it just a few hours after reading the Whitman quote (“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”) and I don’t like to ignore coincidences. For the first two-thirds or so, it’s a good story of adolescent longing. Then it becomes a great story.
You can read “Contains Multitudes” here.
And incidentally, if you register at tor.com, they are offering a free download of an ebook of five years worth of short stories. This thing is massive, and if you are a reader of speculative fiction, you need to check it out.