REVIEW: “Wind-Lashed Vehicles of Bone” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “Wind-Lashed Vehicles of Bone” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 235-239 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content warning: Pain exchange, scarification, mention of death and suicide.

Araana is a dreamer, who dreams distant and unknown futures. He’s not sure why — is it magic? Or is it a much more mundane explanation? — but the glimpses he sees appeal to the engineer inside him. Maybe, with the help of Ujabir the town mage, maybe he can make that distant future become present.

This story had almost a steam-punk feel to it, atypical for the other stories in this collection, but entirely suited to this story. The story is full of fierce joy and hope, and I really enjoyed it.

(First published in 2017 on Patreon.)

REVIEW: “The Visible Frontier” by Grace Seybold

Review of Grace Seybold, “The Visible Frontier”, Clarkesworld Issue 154, July (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A beautifully written story, with poignant emotions, a wonderful narrative, and wondrous descriptions. There’s a lot of focus on world-building, and I’d love to read more stories in the universe. When the story starts, you’ll assume a certain timeline and setting, but there’s a Reveal in store. When you realize how different things are from what you expected, it adds another layer of depth to this story.

Our protagonist, Inlesh, is a curious and intelligent young man, and we follow his journey of inquisitiveness throughout the story. Which, honestly, is what makes this story so poignant.

Richly woven in terms of both storytelling and world building.

REVIEW: “Toward the Luminous Towers” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “Toward the Luminous Towers” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 221-233 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content warning: Warfare, combat, drug use, death, murder, injury, amputation, ableism, dehumanization, suicide.

Sometimes, reading a story, I can’t help but think what a mystery the human mind is, that it can come up with such things. Takács takes the reader into a pretty dark place in this story — all the content warnings above are necessary in this one, and even for someone who does not particularly struggle with any of these topics, I found this an unsettling and distressing story.

(Originally published in Clarkesworld #120, 2016).

REVIEW: “The Oracle of DARPA” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “The Oracle of DARPA” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 217-220 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content note: Weapons development.

One part technical report, two parts poetry, this is an excellent example of speculative fiction. It’s very short, but it wasn’t until almost the very end that I had a sudden realisation of where it was going. Very satisfying.

(First published in Toasted Cake no. 81, 2012).

REVIEW: “Shovelware” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “Shovelware” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 213-216 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content note: Allusions to civil war.

I know a lot of writers are uncertain of how to write a diverse cast of characters because they don’t know how to introduce the diversity without making it a plot point. Any writer who feels like they need a master class in how to do this should read this story: What I loved most about it was how cheerfully and blatantly Takács it. Liliane is “tall, muscular, ethnically mixed” (p. 213), but, as she tells Tamás when they first meet, she’s not Muslim. Tamás is an immigrant, and gay. With the exception of the first (which the omniscient narrator tells us), all the other facts come out in conversation. Because that’s how it works — people talk about who they are. If you’re gay, if you’re an immigrant, if you’re a Muslim or not, it’s just part of who you are and how you want people to see you (or not). Reading stories like this is reassuring to me as a writer — because it shows it isn’t that hard! — and as a reader, because knowing this sort of thing can be done makes reassures me of the increasing likelihood that I can find stories with characters like me.

Other than that, the story seemed almost ordinary — nothing very deep or technical or fantastical beyond two people who meet and become friends — but the final three paragraphs turned that impression on its head. Yet again, Takács shows they know how to deliver a subtle punch when you least expect it.

(First published in Nature March 10, 2016).