REVIEW: “THH*SH*THHH” by Aimee Ogden

Review of Aimee Ogden, “THH*SH*THHH”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact March/April (2021): 78–79 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Teller attends the funeral of a member of a near-immortal species, who died unexpectedly as result of of an accident. The rest of the species have a hard time coping with that being’s death.

The author employs a variety of linguistic tools to emphasize the “alieness” of the “THH*SH*THHH” species (such as different pronouns), which I found more distracting than immersive. By the end, the story doesn’t offer much to help the reader empathize with the alien’s struggle to accept death.

REVIEW: “If a Tree Doesn’t Fall” by Jerry Oltion

Review of Jerry Oltion, “If a Tree Doesn’t Fall”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact March/April (2021): 69–74 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

During a camping trip in the woods, Vance discovers an antigravity device up on a tree. Thinking it as humanity’s solution to the climate crisis, he risks his life to collect it.

This is a simple and straightforward story, effective without relying on many bells and whistles. Vance’s excitement about the antigravity device and his herculean attempts to recover it from the tree are conveyed excellently by the author and create enough tension to make the reader care about the outcome. I’m not sure if Vance’s optimism about the device is warranted, but I doubt the author intended for the story to have any prophetic value. Overall, a delightfully entertaining read.

REVIEW: “Crab Pots” by Amanda Baldeneaux

Review of Amanda Baldeneaux, “Crab Pots”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Skyla’s life is ordinary, mundane, and miserable — husband, two children, no more job once she had her children, doing all the parenting while her husband loafs amongst the crab pots. “Weekends always made her feel like a failure,” we are told, and it that sentence I, and I am sure many other readers will see themselves reflected. The most exciting thing in her life is the gift of a new bikini, and even that comes with demands. There’s no way she could wear it without at least getting waxed. “If her family would just leave her alone she could get everything done without falling behind” — another line that will hit close to home for many mothers.

It’s a cliche to say “everything changes when” but everything does change for Skyla when Gwyn, the optometrist’s office manager, invites Skyla and her sons to an anti-circus protest — after all, mermaids weren’t meant for captivity.

REVIEW: “Leonardo’s Children” by Katerini Koraki

Review of Katerini Koraki, “Leonardo’s Children”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

A circus of cyborgs coming to perform for an audience of lumberjacks on the planet Hathor — that description both perfectly summarises the central plot of this story, and completely fails to capture the way in which this story felt weighty and serious, not haphazard and humorous, as you might expect from such a description. This story had a real quality to it; well done.

REVIEW: “The Harvest-Bringers” by Natasha Grodzinski

Review of Natasha Grodzinski, “The Harvest-Bringers”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

My overwhelming impression of this one was uncertainty. After a string of circus stories, I was surprised by this one, which didn’t have any identifiable circuses in it for a very long time. Between the rather excessively-long build-up and the large quantity of prolix sentences in this story, I felt like I spent a lot of waiting simply wading through words waiting for the story to start. There was a close encounter with a circus, but then there were equally many, equally slow-moving words on the other side of that encounter, so I just struggled to enjoy it. It didn’t quite make the fairy-tale-esque mark I think the author was shooting for, sadly.

REVIEW: “The Circus and the Library” by Melodie Corrigall

Review of Melodie Corrigall, “The Circus and the Library”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

When this story opened with a library and a circus getting married, I didn’t expect it to become an allegory of contemporary hetero marital structures, rife with all the misogyny and patriarchy involved. Let’s just say, parts of this story had rather more realism than fantasy in them!

REVIEW: “The Legend of Emma Sondheim” by Priscilla Kint

Review of Priscilla Kint, “The Legend of Emma Sondheim”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Emma works in a timetraveling circus, the only life she’s ever known. No one ever leaves the building that houses the circus, because no one ever knows when the circus might decide to up and leave to another time, leaving them stranded where they are forever. But Emma is tired of being trapped, and willing to risk anything to escape.

I thought this was a novel take on the topic, and felt that Kint’s story captured the sinisterness of circuses exceptionally well.

REVIEW: “The Dog and Pony Show” by Piper

Review of Piper, “The Dog and Pony Show”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There were bits and parts of the story I really liked — the description “The reality-broken world was dangerous, with so many structures and safeguards failing, and so many people failed to manage themselves or cope or be kind in their new circumstances” felt very real in our post-Covid world — while other parts, especially towards the beginning, I found too disjointed and didactic for my tastes. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that the twist came that made this a distinctive circus story, rewarding the reader for their perseverance.

REVIEW: “Silks” by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Review of Jennifer Lyn Parsons, “Silks”, Luna Station Quarterly 44 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was the third circus-themed story I’d read in this issue of LSQ, which prompted me to actually read the editorial — the entire issue is circus-themed, so maybe I should not have been so surprised to be reading so many circus stories!

I liked this one for its wlw storyline, but I felt it was rather lacking on actual story content.