REVIEW: “Perseus on Two Wheels” by H. Pueyo

Review of H. Pueyo, “Perseus on Two Wheels”, in Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of the City That Never Was, edited by Dave Ring, (Mason Jar Press, 2018): 35-44 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

It’s one thing when the gods start answering the prayers of their petitioners.

It’s another thing when they start answering the prayers of their petitioners…but not all of them, no matter how hard they prayed. When the gods didn’t answer Perseu Batista’s prayers, he “had to afford the transition all by himself, clandestine hormones and all” (p. 36).

Which turned out to not necessarily be a bad thing: For when “the king”, the one with the power to command the gods began to lose control, Perseu of all the people in Morro do Alderamin didn’t have to worry about losing what the gods had given, because they’d never given him anything, he’d bought his new body and his new life himself. Which means that he’s got nothing to lose, when he hears that the king has tied his daughter Andressa to the radio mast to sacrifice her to the gods.

It took a few pages for me to clock which story this tale was retelling, and then I grinned the entire rest of the way through. What a lovely, light-hearted, happy story.

REVIEW: “The City of Cats” by Victoria Zelvin

Review of Victoria Zelvin, “The City of Cats”, in Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of the City That Never Was, edited by Dave Ring, (Mason Jar Press, 2018): 28-34 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Naoko draws cats, and “she’s very good at it” (p. 28). Every morning before her wife leaves for work, she draws one for her. Her other cats roam the city, drawn on walls, on buildings, on sidewalks. No one ever sees Naoko draw them, but they are all hers. The city itself is also filled with live cats — more than there are people, Naoko’s wife (the narrator) sometimes wonders — and Naoko and her wife have their own live cat as well, Bubbles.

When Naoko says she draws cats for her wife for luck, for safety, she means it in a very real, concrete sense, as her wife learns by the end of this is quick, sweet tale.

REVIEW: “Neon” by M. Raoulee

Review of M. Raoulee, “Neon”, in Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of the City That Never Was, edited by Dave Ring, (Mason Jar Press, 2018): 7–27 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

This, as they say, is a story with all the feels. Wonder, uncertainty, tugging at heart-strings, strangeness, confusion, delight, tenderness.

“Neon” is the story of motorcycle-builder, combustion-lover, financial-advisor, heretic Quinn, who lives in a realm where electricity has taken over everything, including and most especially motors; few people, any more, care about the old combustion engines, and those that do — the riders — are tarred as misfits and outcasts. His city is filled with Sylphs and Fulminations and Undines and Shades who travel through the aether, and who can be called from the aether to perform services. Quinn’s world is one where enchantment and sorcery is entwined with electricity and salt and heresy. So much of this we can see on the surface of the story; and so much more is hinted beneath. I loved the way that Raoulee built such a detailed picture of the unknown city, and yet so much of the details to the reader to fill in. I loved seeing the way in which Quinn interacted with his friends, associates, and employers, and from the moment he stumbled into Archae and Archae got onto Quinn’s motorcycle behind him, I loved Archae. A stellar start to the anthology!

REVIEW: Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was edited by Dave Ring

Review of Dave Ring, ed., Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of the City That Never Was (Mason Jar Press, 2018) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I first learned of this anthology late fall 2017, when the call for submissions went out. The concept immediately caught my interest:

We are looking for stories that explore the edges of urban fantasy through queer stories. While the city these stories are set in should be vast and unnamed, highly specific neighborhoods and landmarks are encouraged and sought after. We welcome a broad interpretation of the genre that is inclusive of postmodern folk tales, future/ancient noir, and stories that happen both behind closed doors and in plain sight. Throughout, we’re looking for rich, varied and nuanced understandings of gender, family and ethnicity.

I loved the idea of a series of stories that are all connected, but the ways in which they are connected are left to the reader, and not the writer, to specify. So I was extremely delighted to be offered a review copy of the anthology, because now I get to see how that original conception came to fruition.

The 10 stories in this collection spam the gamut of gritty to sweet to sensual to sad. As a whole, they give a sense of a complex and rewarding city, some place I’d like to visit, some place I’d like to set a story of my own in. In his editor’s note, Ring points out the important power of fiction “to bear witness”, and the importance of witnessing queer characters in the forefront of stories, not on the sidelines. These stories come together in a powerful way to bear this witness, and I highly recommend this collection.

As usual, we’ll review each story individually, and link the reviews back here when they are posted: