REVIEW: “Fyrewall” by Stefani Cox

Review of Stefani Cox, “Fyrewall”, in Glass and Gardens: Solar Punk Summers, edited by Sarena Ulibarri, (World Weaver Press, 2018): 38-50 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Cox’s story takes only a few steps into our future — California, three or four generations from now — and takes as inspiration what will happen to that hot state when things get even hotter, and wildfires are more common and persistent. Daesha and her community live within the protection of the Fyrewall that surrounds LA; but Daesha’s story starts off in the 130-degrees-Fahrenheit countryside outside the wall, and what she finds there.

This story is full of little details but sometimes they’re a bit more clunkily conveyed than may be desirable. I think this story would’ve benefited from one more editing pass before finalising, perhaps reading it aloud to see how various parts could be conveyed more elegantly. I’m always a bit uncertain picking up on things like this — because style preferences are personal, not objective — but in this case the style kept interfering with my ability to enjoy the story, and so I do have to note it. For example, on the one hand, I loved the diversity of the characters, with all ages, races, genders, abilities featured. On the other hand, each was introduced to the reader rather abruptly, with their specific characteristic focused on in a way I found a bit problematic in its essentialising. The story was good — but it could have been better, I think.

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