REVIEW: “Tyrannocora Regina” by Leonie Skye

Review of Leonie Skye, “Tyrannocora Regina”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 71-83 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

If you’re looking for time-traveling lesbian dinosaurs who do roller derby, have I got a story for you…

That collection of words almost feels like the result of a challenge, like the author pulled them out of a hat and then had to write a story about them. Whether or not that’s the case, the resulting story was moderately successful. Time travel narratives are always difficult, and I had to reread the beginning parts a few times before I figured out how to make sense of them, but the threads came together in the end.

REVIEW: “All Electric Ghosts” by Rich Larson

Review of Rich Larson, “All Electric Ghosts”, Clarkesworld Issue 157, October (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Right off the bat, the world building is detailed and intense. Benny is a man in grief, taking the help of whatever he can to help him survive his loss. There is mention of drug usage, but in a very matter of fact way, which lent yet another nuance to the story. Make no mistake, this is a very nuanced story already. In fact, it feels like the beginning of a much larger story. I would definitely like to read the larger work this seems to be a part of.

Benny gets involved with some aliens, and he quickly forms a bond with them, because they’re the best way he has found to deal with his grief and survive in a better way. He needs them for his next hit, and they need him for vaguely nefarious purposes. Along the way, he finds a tenuous friendship, which hints at the possibility of it turning into a stronger one.

This story will leave you wanting more.

REVIEW: “Rust and Bone” by Mary Robinette Kowal

Review of Mary Robinette Kowal, “Rust and Bone”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 86-92 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is a harsh story of a child caught between two adults — one grandmother, one mother — each of whom thinks (or at least claims) they have the child’s best interests at heart.

For anyone who has been caught in a family feud, or who has watched friends be caught in such a feud, this is not a pleasant story. Even if you have not witnessed first hand this sort of situation, the story leaves you with a deep uncertainty and ambivalence about the outcome: Is this the outcome we should’ve been rooting for? More importantly, is it the one that is best for the child? It just isn’t clear, and for some (I’m one of them) that makes it an unsatisfying story. Others may thrive on the ambivalence, and enjoy it more.

REVIEW: “Lake Mouth” by Casey Hannan

Review of Casey Hannan, “Lake Mouth”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 37-41 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was such a bizarre story. Every single statement is clear and precise, but combined together the result is like a weird fever dream. What is strangest about it is the way that every single statement is said as if it is true and ordinary, with no recognition at all of the strangeness of the amalgamation. Reading it was a fascinating experience.

Equally fascinating was reading the author’s interview at the end, which laid a solid foundation beneath the story and made it that much more believable, weirdness and all.

REVIEW: “The Visible Frontier” by Grace Seybold

Review of Grace Seybold, “The Visible Frontier”, Clarkesworld Issue 154, July (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A beautifully written story, with poignant emotions, a wonderful narrative, and wondrous descriptions. There’s a lot of focus on world-building, and I’d love to read more stories in the universe. When the story starts, you’ll assume a certain timeline and setting, but there’s a Reveal in store. When you realize how different things are from what you expected, it adds another layer of depth to this story.

Our protagonist, Inlesh, is a curious and intelligent young man, and we follow his journey of inquisitiveness throughout the story. Which, honestly, is what makes this story so poignant.

Richly woven in terms of both storytelling and world building.

REVIEW: “Recovery” by Kate Sheeran Swed

Review of Kate Sheeran Swed, “Recovery”, Luna Station Quarterly 39 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

For anyone who complains there are not enough SFF stories featuring eldery women MCs, this is a story for you! We learn in the second paragraph that Penny, the narrator, is eighty-six years old, and soon after that we learn that she — like everyone else — has the option of reliving four minutes of her life but — unlike everyone else — she’s lived 86 years without taking up the option. Most people use their 4 minutes long before they ever get old.

Based on a fun, fluffy premise, the story nevertheless has a good depth, balancing the serious question of what one could (or should) do if they got a four-minute redo with a lovely depth of humor. As Penny and her roommate Molly make their escape from the nursing-home to chase down the Well-Dressed Man, at times I found myself grinning in pleasure, and at times I found myself surprisingly touched.

REVIEW: “The Wiser Move, the Better Choice” by Katherine Kendig

Review of Katherine Kendig, “The Wiser Move, the Better Choice”, Luna Station Quarterly 39 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The philosophical premise of this story is the relationship between prophecy and free will — if the oracle at Delphi has decreed that Perseus will one day kill his grandfather, what chance does Perseus have in avoiding his fate? (Not that this is the story at hand here — Prophecy-touched Rien and Tia who makes her question her belief in her own free will are nothing like Perseus and the oracle — but it’s a good illustrative example.) I really enjoyed the precise, argumentative, back-and-forth between Rien and Tia, especially Tia’s insistent picking at Rien’s fundamental principles, it appealed to the philosopher in me. 🙂 While the focus of the story was Rien, the influence of Tia on Rien’s life — an influence nearly as strong as Prophecy itself — pervaded the story, and I enjoyed that.