REVIEW: “Make This Water No Deeper” by Blake Jessop

Review of Blake Jessop, “Make This Water No Deeper” in Rhonda Parrish, ed., Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline: Dieselpunk and Decopunk Fairy Tales, (World Weaver Press, 2019): 257-274 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The setting of this story is the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station, which I enjoyed reading up on before getting mired in the story itself; having some knowledge of the dam’s history and strategic importance helped me appreciate the role that it played in the story. I enjoyed the way Jessop wove impossible creatures — “there are no such things as girls who live forever and drown unfaithful men” // “there are no such things as women engineers, either” (p. 264) — in his story, and the way in which Yulia and Maritchka came alive in each other’s presence.

REVIEW: “New Siberia” by Blake Jessop

Review of Blake Jessop, “New Siberia”, in Glass and Gardens: Solar Punk Summers, edited by Sarena Ulibarri, (World Weaver Press, 2018): 149-158 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

The story opens with the narrator, Nadezhda, falling off a solar collector and needing to be rescued from quicksand. Reading this I was immediately reminded of a recent meme I’ve seen, which is basically that childhood movies and books lead one to believe that quicksand is a far greater danger than it actually is. But it is a real and present danger for Nadezhda, and she is lucky that Amphisbaina is there to rescue her.

What I loved most about this story was Jessop’s use of language, which is truthful, staccato, and beautiful:

There are only so many ways to become sapient. Evolution converges. We killed the Earth, destroyed the Garden of Eden, and have taken up residence with the snakes (p. 150).

Nadezhda is haunted by what her kind has done to their planet, the slow way in which we killed our Earth even knowing that we were doing it. But this story, like the rest in this anthology, is hopeful; in it, humanity has learned that it is not their right to take but their requirement to ask: They share the planet with Amphisbaina and the other Nagans because they asked to share it, not because they conquered it. And Nadezhda and Amphisbaina together share something even more important: Hope, heat, life.

This was a beautiful, touching story.