REVIEW: “The Artist” by Koji A. Dae.

Review of Koji A. Dae, “The Artist”, Luna Station Quarterly 39 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

All too often, art has no — or not enough — place in science, both in science fiction and science fact. In Dae’s SF story, the titular artist plays a central role: Karla Becker is the one who had the important breakthrough in crystallography, she’s the one that people know that value. But when she cannot replicate her breakthrough of two years ago, her single-minded experiments on the very same crystals end up costing her job. What role, then, can the artist play?

The story started off feeling like it was going to be rather depressing and hopeless, but it did not end that way. I loved the feeling of hope, that art, and life, is worth fighting for, that pervading the ending.

REVIEW: “Tonghai” by Linda H. Codega

Review of Linda H. Codega, “Tonghai”, Luna Station Quarterly 39 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Jian is sailing west down the Tonghai river, “toward the asterism her ancestors called Tiger King”, in search of fresh water. It’s been fifty-eight days since she’s seen another person, and four hundred and eighty-six since she last saw a tellerite.

This was a quiet, reflective story of living in the aftermath of the worst parts of climate change. At times it was beautiful — phrases like “picking up the afterbirth of a hundred civilizations” really resonated with me — and at other times it was cold — not yet hopeless, but serving to remind the reader that the world Jian lives in could be our own in the future. Parts of it touched upon myth, and other parts were calmly pragmatic. I really enjoyed this one!

REVIEW: “The Pet Owner’s Guide to Reptilian Hauntings” by Jerica Taylor

Review of Jerica Taylor, “The Pet Owner’s Guide to Reptilian Hauntings”, Luna Station Quarterly 39 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love a good title, and as an erstwhile pet owner of reptiles, this is a very good title. This was a fun rollicking story with a moral — never underestimate the importance of a funeral! It’s also a rather painful reflection on the difficulties of parenting, especially when one parent is deployed or otherwise absent. Funny, real, sometimes pathetic — the story lives up to the promise of the title and I really enjoyed it. My favorite of the issue!

REVIEW: “Three Partitions” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “Three Partitions” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 155-180 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content warning: Cis- and intersexism, vomiting, body horror, shunning, death, self-injury, injury, blood.

This story fulfills my desire to see religion incorporated into SF — not just as an incidental, but as fully and strongly as the science itself. (Why do so many SF authors seem to forget the central role that religion plays in human lives?) It opens on Chani attending service, which is at once both chaotic — where is the kohen? A levi must read the prayers instead — and closely constricted — “Men below, women above, and…those who were neither in the right corner of the balcony” (p. 156). In that third partition is Chani’s friend Adira.

It’s an intimate story, full of monstrous details and quiet exclusions, tightly focused on Chani and Adira, but also on a bigger question of who can be Jewish, and what it means to be Jewish, and woven in with little gems of humor. I really am in awe of the way Takács is able to combine the unfamiliar and the familiar, the grotesque and the ordinary, in such powerful ways.

(Originally published in Gigantosaurus April 2014.)

REVIEW: “The Bookcase Expedition” by Jeffrey Ford

Review of Jeffrey Ford, “The Bookcase Expedition”, Robots vs Fairies, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe (Gallery / Saga Press, 2018): 169-181 — Purchase Here. Reviewed by Susan T. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The narrator of the story watches fairies climb a bookcase in his office for purposes unknown, slowly working out more about them as they climb. It was surprisingly dull! I was curious about the fairies, but the narrative voice left me cold. I think the story is supposed to be a meta-text, where the story that the protagonist is finishing when the fairies distract him is The Bookcase Expedition itself, but there wasn’t really enough of that to carry my interest. I would much rather the story have been straight fantasy, focusing on the fairies themselves, because as written it bored me.