There was a lot I liked about this story — the central idea of lexical engineering, wherein words once written down must become true, meaning a trained lexical engineer can make a plane fly simply by using the right words — but a lot that also didn’t quite work for me. There were abrupt shifts in focus from one character to another, and also inexplicable shifts in tense. In the end, I was left with a feeling that it was a great idea that could have been better.
There was some absolutely delicious world-building in this story, introduced to the reader in a deft and accomplished manner, with a heart-breakingly beautiful ending. This is a masterpiece of a short story!
Content note: Miscarriage.
This wonderful story took the usual selkie trope and turned it on its head, and I absolutely loved every single minute of reading it. Definitely one of the better stories to come out of LSQ!
This is a quick read which is very satisfying. There is a point in this story — near the beginning — where I broke into a sudden grin. Most people living on earth believe that humans are the only sentient life in the universe; but one lucky man knows that aliens exist — he’s won the lottery!
I love stories that play around with what personal technology will be like in the future — instead of laptops and mobile phones, there’ll be personal robots and chip implants and holo-vision. Yet these sorts of stories can often struggle to say or do anything new. Jones managed to hit the sweet spot, combining realistic technological developments with a unique twist, with the added bonus of really, really likeable characters, and a bit at the end that made me gasp and then made me cry. Thumbs up!
Content note: death.
This story explored a darker side of magic and magic use, drawing analogies with drugs and drug use. Mali doesn’t approve of Nick’s getting mixed up with that sort of stuff — but when he turns up dead on her doorstep, she’s not going to let her friend’s death go unavenged. Of course, nothing is ever as easy as that, and the more Mali protests against the use of magic, the more inevitable her own use of it is. This was a pretty dark story, all in all.
This is one of those stories that starts off ordinary and mundane, where you read for awhile wondering where the speculative element will slide in, and then when it finally does, it makes you smile. Despite the mention of aliens in the opening sentence, this isn’t an alien story. It’s rather a story about the titular Stiffs, and I found it to be a clever and unusual take on some traditional tropes.
Not many ghost stories pay attention to the metaphysics of ghosts, but Aunt Edith knows all about the three kinds of ghosts, and make sure that Ray, her niece, and Beth, Ray’s best friend, know all about them too, and the ways in which they should — or should not — treat them. It is the three of them, plus Aunt Edith’s friend Mrs. Montoya, who have to exorcise the ghosts living in the old house that used to belong to Aunt Edith’s family.
If you like ghost stories, then you may enjoy this one. I’m rather meh about ghost stories, and so I was rather meh about this one.
Content note: Reference to mass suicide.
Sometimes an implausible premise makes for a great story; otherwise, the premise is so implausible that my struggle to suspend my disbelief interferes with any enjoyment I might have taken in the story. Alas, the premise in this story as of the latter type.
What I love best about reviewing short stories is when you find something utterly different from anything you’ve read before, and that is what Geer gave me in this story. She took a very simple idea — a veterinarian who is able to take on the thoughts of animals — and used it very effectively.