REVIEW: “Rotkäppchen” by Emily McCosh

Review of Emily McCosh, “Rotkäppchen”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 7-18 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I enjoy fairy tale retellings that give me something new. At first, I thought this was a retelling from the point of view of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother; but then some ways in it became clear that in “Rotkäppchen”, McCosh is telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood grown up, and now a grandmother herself, living alone in the forest. Her son is dead and her granddaughter, Fern, lives on the edge of the woods.

When Fern comes to visit her grandmother, there is a sense of the story cycle repeating itself, for Fern, too, finds a wolf in her grandmother’s cottage. But there is always so much more to a story than what you are first told, and this story is as much the wolf’s as it is Little Red Riding Hood’s.

REVIEW: “From the Void” by Sarah Gailey

Review of Sarah Gailey, “From the Void”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 95-104 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There are so many stories of space ships full of crew in stasis pods, and then inevitable things-going-wrong when they come out. This story is yet another one.

I would’ve sighed and shook my head (and continued reading nonetheless) after seeing that this was the case, were it not for the very interesting way in which religion plays counterpart to the traditional sci-fi model these stories usually fit — there is a lot more praying, creeds, baptisms, and high priestesses in Gailey’s story than in the usual space odyssey story. A lot more religion, and a lot more horror, too. It’s not a pleasant story, though it is finely constructed.

REVIEW: “40 Facts About the Strip Mall at the Corner of Never and Was” by Alex Acks

Review of Alex Acks, “40 Facts About the Strip Mall at the Corner of Never and Was”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 44-47 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

1. I love the title.
2. This piece is exactly what it says it is.
3. It’s surprising how well you can tell a story through a series of facts.
4. Ordinarily, strip malls feel to me like the last defense of a city against the end of civilisation: They are horrid and desolate things. But this one is not; perhaps because it has already gone beyond the pale.
5. I find it hard to believe that no one ever buys the butter pecan. Butter pecan is one of the top three ice cream flavors (joint first with mint chocolate chip and caramel cashew).
6. Sprinkles should never be optional.
7. Instead of giving you 40 facts about this story, I’ll end with a seventh and final one: You ought to read it.

And that’s a fact.

REVIEW: “Thistledown Sky” by Stephen Case

Review of Stephen Case, “Thistledown Sky”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 107-111 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This story is told in five parts, moving from factual to elaborate to finally each more spare and pared down than the last. Ostensibly it’s a story of faster-than-light space travel, but really it’s that story from the point of view of those left behind. How does one cognize what has happened when one’s child or friend or parent or lover has slipped beyond the bounds of lightspeed? “I just called it death,” the narrator tells us, but this is not because FTL travel is an irrevocable severing, but because maybe perhaps death is not.

REVIEW: “The Witch in the Woods Falls in Love a Third Time” by Kate Lechler

Review of Kate Lechler, “The Witch in the Woods Falls in Love a Third Time”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 21-23 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

One of my favorite fairy tales is the tale of the two sisters, the one cursed by a witch so that toads and frogspawn fell out of her mouth whenever she spoke, the other blessed by the same witch so that jewels and gold fell out of her mouth whenever she spoke. Lechler’s story is a completely different telling of this story, a short but sweet — but at the same time ugly and harsh — story of a witch and the two girls she loved.

REVIEW: “Evangelina’s Dream” by Jasmine Shea Townsend

Review of Jasmine Shea Townsend, “Evangelina’s Dream”, in Fairy Tales and Space Dreams (Jasmine Shea Townsend, 2019): 96-105 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This final story in the anthology, and the last of the space dreams, picks up the story of the titular character of the previous one, “The Cosmic Adventures of Sophie Zetyld”, which, despite the title, was more about River Seung than it was about Sophie Zetyld.

The story is divided into six parts, Negatio (“denial”), Iracundia (“irascibility”), Pacisci (“to bargain or negotiate”), Exanimationes Incidamus (“deaths might happen”), Acceptatio (“acceptance”), Excitatus (“I woke up”). Each is a snapshot of a dream, a dream dreamt by a body that is not used to dreaming, not used to eating, not used to being human. How much is real and how much is merely a dream is not clear, as it is in the truest and most vivid of dreams, but in it we learn much about Sophie’s previous life and her current desires. This one didn’t make me laugh quite as much as the “Cosmic Adventures” did, but I think I appreciated it more.

REVIEW: “Murmured Under the Moon” by Tim Pratt

Review of Tim Pratt, “Murmured Under the Moon”, Robots vs Fairies, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe (Gallery / Saga Press, 2018): 58-82 — Purchase Here. Reviewed by Susan T. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Oh, I loved this one. Emily is the human librarian of a faerie library(!) and dating a living book of love poetry(!!), until one day fae soldiers turn up and start looting the place(!!!). Cue Emily teaming up with a piratical former fae princess and more living books, and going to retrieve her library. Some of the narrative a bit clunky, and I would have happy to have more about the side-characters, but I love the ideas and the visuals of this story and how Emily resolved her problems. It was sweet and exactly my sort of thing.

[Caution warning: mind control]