REVIEW: “In-Flight Damage” by Sara Kate Ellis

Review of Sara Kate Ellis, “In-Flight Damage”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June(2021): 54–59 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Astrid is planning on having a “genetically corrected” child with her wife, but before she goes through with the procedure, she decides to pay a visit to her adventurous father in the seceded territory of Texas.

The story’s premise is another spin on the ideas of the film “GATTACA,” although it focuses more on relationship of the protagonist with her past (after all, the “faults” on her DNA are not necessarily inherited but the result of trauma). The plot is competently handled, allowing the connection between Astrid and her father to shine through. The story’s background – involving the secession of Texas which leads to the state’s demise – suffers from a lack of plausibility that is typical of someone who doesn’t really understand Texas. Nevertheless, the setting is mostly intended as a foil to explain the protagonists trauma, and it works well enough for that purpose.

Overall, this is an excellent story, one of this issue’s best.

REVIEW: “Small Turn of the Ladder” by Kelly Lagor

Review of Kelly Lagor, “Small Turn of the Ladder”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June(2021): 51–53 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

A woman is suffering from an autoimmune disease that is likely to claim her life. She contemplates about her death on a short walk with her best friend.

Lagor’s story can hardly be considered speculative, and the few vaguely speculative elements about it seem forced into the narrative. Even as a meditative existentialist tale about death, the story has little to offer outside the usual cliches – although I found the protagonist’s relationship with her best friend touching. The premise is one that could have certainly benefited from a longer story.

REVIEW: “Sunward Planet” by Terry Franklin

Review of Terry Franklin, “Sunward Planet”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact May/June(2021): 48–50 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

The first manned mission to Venus discovers life in its densely packed clouds.

There is not much to say about this story. It’s a pleasant enough sub-2000-word story with an ending that’s perhaps a bit too conveniently positive. Nevertheless, I liked the description of the aliens and the brief speculations about their possible biochemistry.

REVIEW: “Traffic Circle of Old Connecticut” by Susan Jane Bigelow

Review of Susan Jane Bigelow, “Traffic Circle of Old Connecticut”, Luna Station Quarterly 24 (2015): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Ever since the Kalo invasion, Tian has practiced forgetting — forgetting her younger sister, Asan, left with her grandmother back in the village; forgetting that she is Zaluat; forgetting that her Zaluat ancestors passed down their circle magic to her. But when her grandmother dies and Asan is put into the Training Institute, Tian can forget no longer. She attempts a daring rescue of her sister, and in their escape they both learn the truth of their ancestor’s circle power, in a very clever allusion to the title.

This was a story rich in magic, history, oppression, and strength, and was a very satisfying read.

REVIEW: “A Funnel of Time” by Kris Faatz

Review of Kris Faatz, “A Funnel of Time”, Luna Station Quarterly 24 (2015): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Attempted suicide.

This story hops between 2005 and 1934, and the experiences of two women, otherwise entirely unconnected from each other, each undergoing electro-convulsive therapy to fix them, to make them forget. One woman is schizophrenic; the other, bi-polar. At least, that’s what the husband or the brother says, the one who committed them in the first place. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter, though; what matters is that somehow these two women manage to find each other and support each other, and help each other survive the abuse: “Through a funnel of time, two women hold each other up.”

This was not a typical LSQ story, and the use of real-world people in it (see note at the end of the story) was a bit off-putting for me; but I really liked the premise of women supporting women across time.

REVIEW: “Turning Song” by Fey Karvaly

Review of Fay Karvaly, “Turning Song”, Luna Station Quarterly 24 (2015): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content warning: Underage rape.

The Minstrel is in love with a girl who has become a tree — it’s the sort of premise that you’d expect to find in a fairy tale, and maybe this story is a fairy tale at heart, though on the surface it is something rather odder than that. I didn’t care overmuch for the Minstrel, but I found Plum’s existence fascinating (if the story of how she got there horrifying), and Miss Ursula who is old enough to call a snow-bearded minstrel “young” was equally charming. Best of all was the very satisfying revenge and comeuppance that Plum wrecked on the god that raped her as a child.

REVIEW: “Inspector 36” by Kristin Hooker

Review of Kristin Hooker, “Inspector 36”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

No one really worries about the arrival of our Robot Overlords, not seriously, not in real life. What worries 21st C first-world residents is the arrival of our Robot Colleagues, the self-checkout machines, the automations that will turn the working class into the unemployed class. Hooker’s story plays on that fear, giving us a world of bots “a quarter of which, which by law, had to represent a real person receiving a real paycheck” — but even those real people aren’t necessarily doing the work themselves, most of them just rent another bot to do the work for them. Short, but sweet, this was an excellent story.

REVIEW: “Cosmic Resolution” by Hannah Hulbert

Review of Hannah Hulbert, “Cosmic Resolution”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Alcoholic parent.

Thirteen year old Marina doesn’t know what’s harder to deal with — the tentacles that slurp against her bedroom window at night, or about the fact that her mother doesn’t seem to think this is anything out of the ordinary. The opening of this story is weird and creepy, but when even Marina’s mom can’t ignore the tentacles and her whole history spills out, it takes a hard, sharp shift into the deliciously amusing and touchingly poignant. I really enjoyed this!

REVIEW: “A Test of Trouble” by Catherine George

Review of Catherine George, “A Test of Trouble”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

For anyone woman who has lived through parenting a newborn with an unsupportive partner, or seen a friend live through the same: This will be a hard story to read. Bree’s baby Pippa is 9 weeks old, and her entire world has changed, except for perhaps the one thing that should — she is still expected to be the smart, funny, put-together, beautiful wife who gets supper on the table every day. She’s become a mother — but Max certainly hasn’t yet become a father! (The fact that Max was Bree’s professor when they first started going out certainly doesn’t make him any more sympathetic!) In a sense, this is a horror story, one that I read the whole time hoping that Bree would find a way to get out, to escape, to get Max out of her life. I’m not sure if that’s the angle George was going for, but if it was, she nailed it. This was a deeply unsettling, vaguely disturbing story.

REVIEW: “Maeve in the Picture” by Clare McNamee-Annett

Review of Clare McNamee-Annett, “Maeve in the Picture”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I really had no idea what was going on in the early paragraphs of this story — they necessitated not one but two rereads before I could keep enough of it in my head to plunge on.

If “gritty realism” and “vampire romance” don’t conflict with each other, then those are the two phrases I would pick to describe this story. It wasn’t a happy, fluffy romance; it’s more of the uncomfortable “how close can you make a relationship sound abusive without actually being abusive” type of romance. But this was definitely unlike any other vampire story I’ve ever read.