REVIEW: “Sirens” by Britani C. W. Baker

Review of Britani C. W. Baker, “Sirens”, Luna Station Quarterly 37 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content warning: Memories of child abuse.

The titular sirens of this story are not the ones I immediately thought of — tantalising creatures of the watery depths — but ones that strike fear into my childhood midwestern heart: Tornado sirens. The world that Baker populates has been destroyed by tornadoes, everywhere, all at once, and the sirens haven’t stopped since. Through their raging call walk Denver and Isaac.

I found this story left me with more questions than answers — where did the tornadoes come from? What sort of weather could have resulted in that many, all at once, including in places that don’t normally have tornadoes? How is it that vast cities are abandoned and left to scavengers, but the sirens in them are still going off? (This is quite a practical question: I found myself wondering “just how are tornado sirens powered, such that it’s possible for them to still be blaring after two years?”) I also found myself wanting somewhat more than the story had to give — something more speculative than merely a post-apocalyptic setting. However, for anyone who has lived through the sort of abuse that Denver has survived, I can imagine reading this story might be sort of cathartic.