REVIEW: “I have loved the stars too fondly” by James Van Pelt

Review of James Van Pelt, “I Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly”, Analog Science Fiction and Fact March/April (2021): 129–131 (Kindle) – Purchase Here. Reviewed by John Atom.

Earth (or perhaps America) is starting to colonize the Moon, and the homeless are among the first to get there. It’s a chance to start fresh, though not everybody believes in this chance.

A thoroughly enjoyable story, even if it does not necessarily have a sense of direction. It feels more like a snapshot of a hypothetical future, rather than a proper narrative. Nevertheless, the snapshot that it presents is very compelling and the story makes a strong case for the humanity of its characters (e.g. the references to old poems by the main character, etc.). Despite the story’s brevity, there’s a lot of depth in Gregory’s character, whose optimistic view of the future leaves the reader hopeful. Much like a lot of us in these difficult times, he can’t help but see an end to his struggles in his new endeavor.

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: “Blood Feathers”

Review of Anonymous, “Blood Feathers”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is a story of a woman who is lost inside herself, lost inside the trapping of being a woman, being a mother, being “a support, a failsafe, for her family.” She doesn’t have time for friends, for hobbies, for anything more than a linear life of one thing after another. But there’s more to Ren’s life than that, and we the readers are given intermittent glimpses, as the unfamiliar breaks through the routine, as the fantastical interferes with the normal, as Ren herself tries to reconstruct the memories she once lost. It’s an eerie, unsettling story, smashingly done.

REVIEW: “Heaven-Bound” by Hayli McClain

Review of Hayli McClain, “Heaven-Bound”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

College student Ann — disowned by her family, with no friends or connections, no one to miss her — goes off into the woods one night, intending to disappearing. Instead, she meets Percy, who is trying to pull down the moon, and all in the name of true love.

This was an absolutely adorable and delightful love story and I really enjoyed it!

REVIEW: “Mars Ascending” by Hannah Whiteoak

Review of Hannah Whiteoak, “Mars Ascending”, Luna Station Quarterly 45 (2021): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: death of parent, stillbirth.

Living amongst the effects of climate change is something so close to our present lives that it seems more like ordinary fiction rather than science fiction; living at a time when people can escape the rising seas by jetting off to Mars, however, feels still like a distant dream. And yet, stories like Whiteoak’s make it clear how quickly these two lives are converging. I found “Mars Ascending” poignant and touching and it felt very, very real. (And Whiteoak nailed the ending.) Well done!