REVIEW: “Sex After Fascism” by Audie Shushan

Review of Audie Shushan, “Sex After Facism”, Luna Station Quarterly 29 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The story kicks off with Kris on her way to who-knows-where for who-knows-why, but she’s in the company of her new-boss-cum-new-crush, so she doesn’t mind. Her narration is filled with a wry humor, poking fun at the experience of being a modern woman (and reading modern women’s magazines) and constantly second-guessing and revising her descriptions. She is entirely engaging and loveable — except I have to say, who doesn’t like pecan pie?!

But the story itself seemed a story of two parts; and the quirky, enthusiastic Kris of the first half gives way to a much weirder and darker story in the second half. Without the second half, there would’ve been no speculative element to the story; with the second half, I’m not entirely sure how well the story functions as a whole.

REVIEW: “Genie’s Retirement” by Sarah Newman

Review of Sarah Newman, “Genie’s Retirement”, Luna Station Quarterly 29 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Retirement doesn’t mean quite the same thing for a Genesis Model household AI robot as it does for a human person. It’s not like robots have hobbies, after all, or need to move to warmer, sunnier climes to soothe their aching bones. But robot bodies get old, software gets outdated, and eventually their “life” must come to an end. Newman’s story explores what this end might look like, in a sympathetic and touching way.

REVIEW: “…But Not Too Bold” by L. M. Davenport

Review of L. M. Davenport, “…But Not Too Bold”, Luna Station Quarterly 29 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was an eminently peculiar story. I found myself reading it in fits and starts, going for a few paragraphs and then having to back-track and re-read. Ordinarily a story that makes me feel like I have to stop midway through and re-read because I’ve missed something crucial or something doesn’t make sense irritates me. This story, though, balanced on the fine line between fantasy/fairy tale and surreal that each read through brought with it a new detail or a new understanding, and helped build up different layers. No matter how often I read (or re-read) it, I was never quite sure what was going on, what was real, what was not. I really enjoyed it.

REVIEW: “Fugue State” by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Review of Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, “Fugue State”, Apex Magazine 120 (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Charlotte is struggling with some dementia-like changes in her husband, Arthur. Since taking a new job advising a popular fundamentalist preacher, Arthur has transformed from a brilliant political correspondent at the paper where they both work, to somehow who struggles to sound out the word “acetaminophen” or understand that it is Tylenol. When a stranger tells Charlotte that the preacher is up to something terrible, and that she has to go to his event that night and stop him, Charlotte thinks that maybe she has found a way to understand what is happening to her husband.

Despite what you might think from the summary, this is a slowly building horror story. Yes, it centers a relationship, but that is not what the story is ultimately about. What is it about? That’s harder to say, because it is so subtle, and so rich. It’s about relationships, yes. It’s about wanting to understand a loved one, and thus acting against what might be your better judgment. It’s also about mind control, and about the comfort that can be found after giving up your free will to someone or something more confident than yourself. It’s absolutely terrifying. This is psychological horror at some of its best, holding up a dark mirror to real life that made my stomach curdle.

REVIEW: “How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend” by Kristen Brand

Review of Kristen Brand, “How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend”, Luna Station Quarterly 29 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love a good title, and this is a great title.

From such a title, one might think that the feature characters would be Lady Nightmare and Captain Alpha. But instead, it’s the unnamed girlfriend (who gets her name, Sara, in the first sentence of the story) that is the center of things. The tone that the narration takes, through a close 3rd person POV focused on Sara, is chatty and accessible, even when Sara is in the midst of experiences few readers can relate to (how many people have been taken hostage not once, but twice? And by a supervillain?). I found myself grinning intermittently (how can you not grin at sentences like “If Sara had known someone would be breaking into her home today, she would have cleaned”?) and rooting for Sara from the get-go. It didn’t take very long into the story before I’d formed a hope of how the rest of it would go, and Brand did not disappoint: I got exactly the happy ending I wanted. This was one of the most enjoyable, laugh-out-loud-able stories I’ve read recently, and I’m so glad I went back into the LSQ archives and found it.

REVIEW: “Rose Briar, Briar Rose” by Miranda Schmidt

Review of Miranda Schmidt, “Rose Briar, Briar Rose”, Luna Station Quarterly 29 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love fairy tale retellings, especially when the retelling tells a part of the story that the traditional tale omits. The inspiration for Schmidt’s story is Sleeping Beauty, but it is the story of what happened in a period often glossed over — after she fell asleep and before she was awakened. How many princes came and kissed an unconsenting princess before one finally woke her up? Well, in this story, it wasn’t a prince at all that woke her, but woman who loves the princess for her thorns, and not in spite of them.

An unusual twist on a usual tale, I enjoyed Schmidt’s interpretation of Sleeping Beauty very much.