REVIEW: “Recordings of a More Personal Nature” by Bogi Takács

Review of Bogi Takács, “Recordings of a More Personal Nature” in The Trans Space Octopus Congregation Stories, (Lethe Press, Inc., 2019): 125-136 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Content note: Mind control, drug use, self-harm, cutting, torture, dissociation, allusions to suicide.

So many things I love about this story:

1. Great background metaphysics — unlike any world building I’ve come across before.
2. The importance of the formation of the self via memories, something I’ve explored quite a bit in my own writing!
3. The way the story combines those two with the way it dwells more on the horror of being cut off from one’s sense of self than on the mechanics of how the archive works.

And I loved the twist at the end, when the reason why this culture depends so on their archive is revealed. This was just an all round very satisfying story.

(Originally published in Apex Magazine November 2013).

REVIEW: “There are No Wrong Answers” by LaShawn M. Wanak

Review of LaShawn M. Wanak, “There are No Wrong Answers”, Podcastle: 505 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

Sometimes a story doesn’t hit my sweet spot, not through any lack of writing quality, but simply because the structure is one that grates on me. “There are No Wrong Answers” was one of those (suggesting, perhaps, that there are wrong answers) due to the use of the interruptive quiz format that framed and was interspersed with the main narrative. Kudos for the experimental attempt, but it doesn’t work for me personally.

Lana has a talent for designing and analyzing personality tests, her neighbor Madame D (a drag performer and fortune teller) is a talented cold reader. Their intersection over a straying Labrador retriever results in an awkwardly developing friendship as Lana gets prickly over Madame D’s suggestion that their occupations have more in common that she’d like to think. Lana gets hired as lead test administrator for an employment counseling firm, which leads to the major conflict in the story.

The overall shape of the story is an overlay of “protagonist is aided to greater understanding of herself and learns to appreciate people she originally looked down on” and “supernatural powers achieve justice for wrongs done.” The genuine supernatural elements would seem to undermine the original premise that psychological counseling and cold reading are twins of the same parentage, but without them, this wouldn’t be a fantasy story at all.

(Originally published in What Fates Impose edited by Nayad A. Monroe)