REVIEW: “Your Brother’s Touchstone” by Isabel Lee

Review of Isabel Lee, “Your Brother’s Touchestone,” Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

It’s never a good sign when I start reading a story going “ugh, 2nd person POV. I hope it’s not too awful…” While it was by no means awful — LSQ doesn’t publish awful stories! — it was not, in my opinion, a story that was improved by the use of the 2nd person POV. I would have loved to have read a version of this story told in a more traditional format. Because the basic premise — Hana’s little brother Phillip has a tendency to disappear, literally, leaving her to pick up the pieces — was cool, and there were some very sweet and touching moments in it, and a twist near the end that I didn’t expect.

So, if you’re not like me and don’t mind 2nd person POV stories, definitely read this: I think you’ll like it.

REVIEW: “The Backwards Princess of Unusual Parentage” by Allison Mulder

Review of Allison Mulder, “The Backwards Princess of Unusual Parentage”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

One of my favorite genres of speculative fiction is “pick a minor character in a fairy tale and turn them into a major character”, and Mulder’s story fits squarely in that category. The minor character in this case is the mirror from Snow White — who is he? How did he get in the mirror? Why does he do the bidding of the one who looks inside him? These are all questions you’ve probably never thought of before but Mulder faces them head on in this delightful, intriguing, and unexpected fairy tale. I loved it.

REVIEW: “The Keeper” by Susan E. Rogers

Review of Susan E. Rogers, “The Keeper”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Death.

This was a lovely little story about the passing down of collective memory from one generation to the next — every family needs to have someone who is the Keeper of their memories. There was very little truly speculative about the story, but I didn’t mind; sometimes it’s okay to just have a good yarn, without overburdening it with fantastical elements.

REVIEW: “Gentle Ways to Kill a Dragon” by Kit Harding

Review of Kit Harding, “Gentle Ways to Kill a Dragon”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

One of the reasons why I like reading modern SFF is the way it interrogates the sexist and patriarchal structures that are embedded in so much of the fiction I grew up on. You read enough of it, and you tend to think the way they depict their worlds are is the only way the world can be. But what’s brilliant about stories like Harding’s is the way they don’t just subvert problematic tropes, but also point out that the tropes are problematic. It’s empowering to read Ella explicitly go through the thought process from “I should be complimented that the dragon hunter thinks I’m pretty enough to be his ‘reward'” all the way to “fuck that, Imma kill that dragon myself”. Want a great story that teaches the importance of consent? This is it.

REVIEW: “The Shroud for the Mourners” by Yukimi Ogawa

Review of Yukimi Ogawa, “The Shroud for the Mourners”, Clarkesworld Issue 177, June (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Beautifully written, and set in a hauntingly different world. I enjoyed the glimpses into the different kinds of people there, both human and Android.

Two craftspeople work at a pattern atelier – helping patterned people deal with anomalies in their intricate skin patterns. They get involved in a sort of medical mystery. The source turns out to be unexpected and sentimental.

Another tale that follows this issue’s theme (based on my personal inference) of identity and the different ways it can manifest.

The whole situation occurs due to differences in how your identity decides how exactly things pan out. A thoughtful tale that will stay with you.

REVIEW: “Jinli Yu” by Ai Jiang

Review of Ai Jiang, “Jinli Yu”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The narrator’s father never had a chance to teach her jinli magic before he was captured, wanted for his own jinli magic. Now she is faced with attempting to rescue him without the first clue of how to go about doing it.

This was a very philosophical story, about struggles and goals, of freedom and constraint, and how to make sense of death, told in a distinctive and powerful voice. Definitely worth a few read-throughs to get all the nuances.

REVIEW: “Relapse” by Phoenix Roberts

Review of Phoenix Roberts, “Relapse”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Eating disorders.

Katherine is recovering from an eating disorder, and is making a table. The spectre of her ED haunts the earlier part of the story, so that it takes awhile to piece together the offered clues to see that that’s what happened to her. After that, it becomes quite a frank account: I cannot say how accurate because I do not have the experience, but the way her recovery shapes her life smacks of authenticity.

It’s hard to isolate and explain the speculative — almost horror — element in the story, and how it weaves through the more mundane details, so I won’t try; it is best understood by experiencing it, by reading the story yourself.

REVIEW: “No Place Like Home” by Rebecca Burton

Review of Rebecca Burton, “No Place Like Home”, Luna Station Quarterly 47 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Saffi and her wife moved North so her wife could escape the city and a job that was slowly killing her. Now, Di wants nothing more than to leave the countryside behind and return home.

There’s a good layer of tension in the story, as it is wholly unclear until right at the end whether Saffi will go with Di or not, but that alone wasn’t quite enough to elevate the story from ordinary to extraordinary.