REVIEW: “All Legacy Hardware” by Owen McManus

Review of Owen McManus, “All Legacy Hardware,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 7-21 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Kara Liu is just weeks away from the Olympic 10k qualifying meet when a terrible accident severs her spinal cord. The story opens on her three weeks post injury, still in the throes of recovery, reconstruction, and rebuilding of her future. The quality and precision of the scientific detail in this story is such that it made me — not a doctor! — wonder how much of it was fiction and how much already reality. I loved it. (I also really, really loved Dr. Dawson, who doesn’t know how to talk to people, who finds her research vividly exciting, and who appreciates the importance of getting a PhD thesis or two out of a new project.) This is McManus’s first published story, and all credit to him: I hope he writes lots more like this.

REVIEW: “Battles Yet to Win” by Devi Lacroix

Review of Devi Lacroix, “Battles Yet to Win,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 85-95 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The story opens with a feel I traditionally associated with fantasy, and when it segued into science fiction it did so in a way that didn’t clash with the atmosphere that had already been created. The juxtaposition was well-done and I enjoyed it. And this was merely setting the stage for a rich story of complex relationships between ambiguous characters, all of which made for an extremely satisfying read. (There is also a subtle, but excellent, slight rewriting of history, which I loved.)

REVIEW: “To the Singers of Madrigals” by Don Mark Baldridge

Review of Don Mark Baldridge, “To the Singers of Madrigals,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 25-36 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I found this story a bit humdrum, a generic SF spaceship setting on a generic, everlasting journey, all narrated in my least favorite POV (2nd). Without anything distinctive — the only character an unnamed ‘she’ — it was hard for me to become invested.

REVIEW: “Too Little, Too Little, Too Much” by John Wiswell

Review of John Wiswell, “Too Little, Too Little, Too Much,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 37-44 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Towards the end of the review.

This story made me wary from its opening lines, concerned that I was going to get something uncomfortable or horrific or depressing about children and the families that fail them.

Bad news: I was right to have been worried. Avoid this story if you don’t want to read about abuse (sexual, mental, physical, of children, of animals…).

I almost couldn’t finish it. I think I’m glad I did, that it was worth sticking it out to the end.

REVIEW: “You Are Born Exploding” by Rich Larson

Review of Rich Larson, “You Are Born Exploding”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Set in an indeterminate time in the future, this story focuses on the dichotomy of the life of the narrator versus the general public. She is rich and can afford security and expensive inoculations. Much of the general population cannot, and some become Shamblers.

She is intrigued by them, especially the ones who voluntarily become Shamblers, and leave the land to dive into the sea. Nobody knows where they go, but she is disillusioned with her existing life and doesn’t seem to mind the unknown. Especially since her life on land isn’t shaping up to be too great.

I loved the beautiful prose, and the pacing. It is a novelette, so a bit longer than your usual short story, but it never drags and is absolutely worth the read. The world-building and hints of how the world functions has so much depth that I’m sure the author has even more detail in his notes than we see in the story. The character development is strong, and the emotional resonance is powerful and heartbreaking. One of my favorite stories of the year!

REVIEW: “Vegvísir” by David Goodman

Review of David Goodman, “Vegvísir”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

This story is set on a Mars that has been inhabited for generations now. There are very few Earthborn left – many of the humans here are locals, born and raised on Mars. An interesting concept to begin with, and this is just the background!

Loved the prose here. The author does a great job of creating atmosphere, be it the wilds and winds of Mars, or of the Iceland of Gunnar’s family history. A place his grandmother was from. She may have migrated to Mars, but she still loves her skyr and her mythology. Many of the inhabitants, like Gunnar, can trace their origin to Iceland. And with people and their personalities, there also comes a bit of history, story, and old magic.