REVIEW: “The Bones and Their Girl” by Sylvia Heike

Review of Sylvia Heike, “The Bones and Their Girl,” Flash Fiction Online 93 (2021): Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

When a story opens with someone discovering someone else’s bone collection, I’m not quite sure if it’s going to turn out to be a horror story or not!

This one is not. It’s a beautiful, sweet story, of Camille who is struggling to understand the herself that she has become as illness slowly takes over her, and Simon, who sees nothing but beauty in bones.

(Originally published in Syntax & Salt, 2019.)

REVIEW: “All the Arms We Need” by Kristina Ten

Review of Kristina Ten, “All the Arms We Need,” Flash Fiction Online 93 (2021): Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The premise of this story is simple: Sometimes, all we need is to be held, and sometimes two arms is not enough. What is better than two arms? Eight, of course, and better than that a thousand. What we learn in this exceedingly sweet story is that if an octopus is a better hugger than a human, a millipede is even better than an octopus.

REVIEW: “The Song of Leviathan” by Victor Pseftakis

Review of Victor Pseftakis, “The Song of Leviathan” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): 84-94 — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was a delightfully bizarre story, full of flying Bureaucroaks and semi-sentient aqueducts, and of course the titular Leviathan who lives beneath the bridge and is either killer or saviour. There is a strong emotional tension in the story of the narrator and his friends, and the description of how the city first woke up and came alive is vivid and arresting.

REVIEW: “Recreational WorkHart Use” by Brenna Harvey

Review of Brenna Harvey, “Recreational WorkHart Use” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): 57-83 — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

One of the longer pieces in this issue, this story nevertheless read quick and easily, with a lovely rhythm and crisp pacing.

The setting is distinctly dystopian (the premise of the WorkHart is deliciously creepy), and yet what shines through is Tev and Hoysel’s friendship, real and brilliant and delightful. A second strong point of the story is Harvey’s insightful social criticism via Tev’s critique of Reetus’s economics — Tev understands much better than Reetus does that just because one is poor doesn’t mean that they are undeserving of joy!

REVIEW: “A Glut of Nothing, and Yet…Something” by Monte Lin

Review of Monte Lin, “A Glut of Nothing, and Yet…Something” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Anyone who’s experienced the lows of academia — science denial, departments closing, loss of funding — will find themselves relating strongly to both Jenny the “Taiwanese Pasadena city-rat gone good gone bad” and Tara the “button-down type ready to break out of her box”, the ex-scientist and the scientist thrown together to figure out how to get something — something personal, not science — are both engaging characters with a believable back-and-forth. Other than a few paragraphs that felt a bit claggy and clunky with info dump, I enjoyed this.

REVIEW: “The Soul Catcher” by Leila Martin

Review of Leila Martin, “The Soul Catcher” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

In this story, the narrator catches souls the way that fishermen catch fish. There’s a lot of net repair and boat repair and stories of the ones that got away. And like real-world fishermen who are watching the decline of the ocean’s stock due to human involvement and climate change, the soul catcher here is faced with the concern that every day she’s catching fewer souls.

Told in a series of log entries, the story felt intimate and personal and each entry made me want to read the next, to find out, even if obliquely, what would happen. Good pacing, beautiful language, a wonderful ending — a pleasure to read!

REVIEW: “Osteography” by JL George

Review of JL George, “Osteography” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I found this a confusing read, constantly having to scroll back up to connect names to characters, referents to pronouns; it took me more than two pages before I discovered that “Shardon” is the name of a settlement, not of a person. I think I could have enjoyed this more if the set-up and structure had been clearer from the start.

REVIEW: “The Quickening and the Canker” by David Cleden

Review of David Cleden, “The Quickening and the Canker” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

When “quantum scale weirdness [rises] up to poison the macro-scale world”, things do not go well. That’s the setting/premise for this story, that quantum fluctuations give rise to the quickening, which in turn is linked to the canker, both of which can only be identified, or stopped, through observation. There are too many possibilities until one definite reality is observed.

I really enjoyed this innovative take on quantum uncertainty.

REVIEW: “Glissade” by Lindz McLeod

Review of Lindz McLeod, “Glissade” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Sam learned how to walk through the woods in the Quiet from her father (a skill her brother Jamie never really understood). The Quiet is what allows Sam and her family to hunt, and at first, reading the story, the Quiet seems peaceful, tranquil, something good. It’s only as you read further along that you realise just what it is that Sam and her family are hunting…

An unexpectedly gruesome and vicious story!

REVIEW: “Top Ten Demons to Kill Before the World Ends” by dave ring

Review of dave ring, “Top Ten Demons to Kill Before the World Ends,” Cossmass Infinities 5 (2021): — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

It’s the end of the world and demons will be demons, and demon-slayers will be demon-slayers… Exactly what the title says it is, full of hilarious footnotes, I loved this story of a sisterhood of demonkillers who “just happen to mostly be messy sapphics”.