REVIEW: “Gald” by anonymous

Review of Anonymous, “Gald”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

“Gald” is the story of a group of misfits who have banded together to make their own found family. Minnie, Shasta, and Raynald are “all illegal, no profiles, no scan codes, no fish tickets, nothing”, always traveling at night and avoiding the sokes. But one night they meet Venlis, on the run from one of the sokes herself, and with Venlis comes trouble.

Parts of the story I liked — it had a weird, lyric quality to some of it, and there were hints and bits of interesting background world-building — but the structure of the story didn’t quite work for me. It ended up abruptly, cutting off without any resolution or any explanation of what was going on. It left me feeling unsatisfied.

REVIEW: “All Manner of Wounds” by Emily Strempler

Review of Emily Strempler, “All Manner of Wounds”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content warning: Needles.

Noemi is a med-school student, balancing her studies with caring for her mother and her daughter, managing her diabetes, and maintaining a job. It’s funny what things you’re willing to suspend your disbelief in for the sake of fiction, and what things draw you up short and make you laugh at how unrealistic they are: Noemi shows up late to class, and her professor pauses his lecture to tell her to see him after class to get notes for what she missed so that she has them to write her next paper. Maybe I’m cynical, but I’ve been in academia too long for this to seem anything more than a fantasy…

That aside, I found the story compelling and intriguing, to the point where I was about 2/3 of the way through before I realised that there was hardly anything in the story that counted as speculative (other than self-driving cars). I spent the final third waiting to see if there was going to be, without any satisfaction. The story ended abruptly, and I was left feeling like I’d missed something rather important, but being entirely unclear what.

REVIEW: “Tell Me Something Good” by Nicole Lungerhausen

Review of Nicole Lungerhausen, “Tell Me Something Good”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Brief mention of conversion therapy.

The prospect of impending parenthood isn’t always glorious and romantic and hopeful and fun. Sometimes it’s full of anxiety and fear and uncertainty. No matter how many stories other parents tell you, no matter how much time you spend imagining what the future will be like, there is nothing that can prepare you for what it will really be like. This story grapples with all of these issues in a realistic and sympathetic way.

REVIEW: “Slipping Through the Stars” by Laura J. Campbell

Review of Laura J. Campbell, “Slipping Through the Stars”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Rigel, the erstwhile queen of Sri’Quis, one of the last planets left with a monarchy, is beginning her exile. Her son is now king and she is better off out of the way. She’s headed to the Earth-controlled planet Lough Dergh, in the company of an Earth-born bodyguard, Mary Osprey. Between Rigel’s anger at being forced into exile, and her hatred of the Earthlings who saved her once from assassination, the story opens in a mess of angst. But as Rigel’s exile draws out, and we learn more about Mary (explicitly asexual, a pro-active special agent, “There is nobody else like me.”), everything begins to change. I really liked Dr. Mary Osprey.

REVIEW: “Cleaning House” by Angela Boswell

Review of Angela Boswell, “Cleaning House”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This story is one half of a conversation, from Lottie to her dead grandmother’s partner Maris. Ordinarily I’m not a huge fan of either monologues or 2nd-person narration, but since it was made clear from the start that I, the reader, was not the object of Lottie’s observations, these two stylistic choices didn’t bother me as much as they often do. I liked the intimate way Boswell explored the fall-out of the death of a loved one, and what we learned of Grandma Al, and I liked the ambiguity surrounding Maris. However, I did feel like the story was strong out longer than it needed to be, and that it might have been improved by tightening it up and making it tauter. Personal opinion, though.

REVIEW: “Liar, Liar, Tongue on Fire” by Janessa Mulepati

Review of Janessa Mulepati, “Liar, Liar, Tongue on Fire”, Luna Station Quarterly 40 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Reading this story of perjury and how it must be punished on the night of Impeachment Eve was a poignant and strange experience. Where Pan lives, perjury is punished swiftly and sharply: you cannot lie if you have no tongue.

On the one hand, it sounds barbaric, hearkening back to a less civilised, more violent age.

On the other hand, when one sees — Trump’s America, Johnson’s Brexit — the horrific consequences of lies, it hardly sounds barbaric enough.

REVIEW: “Your Future is Pending” by Matthew Kressel

Review of Matthew Kressel, “Your Future is Pending”, Clarkesworld Issue 158, November (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

This is a slice of life story about a dystopian future where people get even more engrossed in technology than they already are at present. Virtual reality has taken over, and people stay plugged in for days at a time. To the extent that people have service bots that clean them, because they’re too busy being plugged into the virtual world to even bother with basic hygiene.

Martha works for one of these companies, and her life is real life. She knows the temptations of VR, and actively rejects it. It’s a bleak, allegorical story, and oddly engaging because of it.

Martha’s life, as contrasted with the lives of those who are completely into virtual reality, is much more difficult, ordinary and frustrating. An illuminating insight into the ever increasing gulf between the haves and have-nots.