REVIEW: “Heaven-Bound” by Hayli McClain

Review of Hayli McClain, “Heaven-Bound”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

College student Ann — disowned by her family, with no friends or connections, no one to miss her — goes off into the woods one night, intending to disappearing. Instead, she meets Percy, who is trying to pull down the moon, and all in the name of true love.

This was an absolutely adorable and delightful love story and I really enjoyed it!

REVIEW: “Mars Ascending” by Hannah Whiteoak

Review of Hannah Whiteoak, “Mars Ascending”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: death of parent, stillbirth.

Living amongst the effects of climate change is something so close to our present lives that it seems more like ordinary fiction rather than science fiction; living at a time when people can escape the rising seas by jetting off to Mars, however, feels still like a distant dream. And yet, stories like Whiteoak’s make it clear how quickly these two lives are converging. I found “Mars Ascending” poignant and touching and it felt very, very real. (And Whiteoak nailed the ending.) Well done!

REVIEW: “Margins” by Elizabeth Hinckley

Review of Elizabeth Hinckley, “Margins”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Adrian’s life has always been lived at the margins, “where all of the excitement, beauty, and magic were.” At the start, I was excited to read more about that life, especially the summers he spends with his father the circus-worker, but we got so much history at the beginning, and not enough story, that I lost interest. I kept reading, though, and was rewarded by a sharp, sudden crossing of a margin about half-way through (a transition point that I wish had come much earlier). What came after was still somewhat plodding at times, but was overall intriguing.

REVIEW: “Of Moonlight and Music” by Kayla Whittle

Review of Kayla Whittle, “Of Moonlight and Music”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Every full moon the circus comes to Elsie’s town, but none of the townspeople ever go; only strangers visit the circus. Until one month, when Elsie wakes up to a sign that marks her out as the first of her village to be called to the circus. “Everyone comes to the circus to find something they’ve been missing,” the Ringmaster tells her when she arrives, but Elsie visits all the stalls and sees all the performances and none of them are what she is looking for. Instead, her missing piece is something entirely different — something that made me really really happy when she finally found it. This was a quiet story overall, but rather deftly done.

REVIEW: “Skyboss” by Rocky Breen

Review of Rocky Breen, “Skyboss”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Camille has dreamed of going to the stars ever since third grade, and while a chance to cover the Strato Circus’s show in honor of the comet Stephan-Oterma isn’t quite the same thing, it’s still closer than anything else she’s achieved — but the assignment isn’t without its dangers, or its costs.

For being set in the future, there was a delightfully steam-punk feel to this story. It was also exceptionally realistic; every step of Camille’s journey into the stratosphere felt believable and relatable. This was a seriously gripping story which I really enjoyed.

REVIEW: “Crab Pots” by Amanda Baldeneaux

Review of Amanda Baldeneaux, “Crab Pots”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Skyla’s life is ordinary, mundane, and miserable — husband, two children, no more job once she had her children, doing all the parenting while her husband loafs amongst the crab pots. “Weekends always made her feel like a failure,” we are told, and it that sentence I, and I am sure many other readers will see themselves reflected. The most exciting thing in her life is the gift of a new bikini, and even that comes with demands. There’s no way she could wear it without at least getting waxed. “If her family would just leave her alone she could get everything done without falling behind” — another line that will hit close to home for many mothers.

It’s a cliche to say “everything changes when” but everything does change for Skyla when Gwyn, the optometrist’s office manager, invites Skyla and her sons to an anti-circus protest — after all, mermaids weren’t meant for captivity.

REVIEW: “Leonardo’s Children” by Katerini Koraki

Review of Katerini Koraki, “Leonardo’s Children”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

A circus of cyborgs coming to perform for an audience of lumberjacks on the planet Hathor — that description both perfectly summarises the central plot of this story, and completely fails to capture the way in which this story felt weighty and serious, not haphazard and humorous, as you might expect from such a description. This story had a real quality to it; well done.

REVIEW: “The Harvest-Bringers” by Natasha Grodzinski

Review of Natasha Grodzinski, “The Harvest-Bringers”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

My overwhelming impression of this one was uncertainty. After a string of circus stories, I was surprised by this one, which didn’t have any identifiable circuses in it for a very long time. Between the rather excessively-long build-up and the large quantity of prolix sentences in this story, I felt like I spent a lot of waiting simply wading through words waiting for the story to start. There was a close encounter with a circus, but then there were equally many, equally slow-moving words on the other side of that encounter, so I just struggled to enjoy it. It didn’t quite make the fairy-tale-esque mark I think the author was shooting for, sadly.

REVIEW: “The Circus and the Library” by Melodie Corrigall

Review of Melodie Corrigall, “The Circus and the Library”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

When this story opened with a library and a circus getting married, I didn’t expect it to become an allegory of contemporary hetero marital structures, rife with all the misogyny and patriarchy involved. Let’s just say, parts of this story had rather more realism than fantasy in them!