REVIEW: “Vincent Coriolis, Father of the Nation” by Celia Neri

Review of Celia Neri, “Vincent Coriolis, Father of the Nation”, Luna Station Quarterly 38 (2019): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is not the story of Vincent Coriolis, Father of the Nation, but instead the story of “the faithful sidekick went back to being a good mother while the hero of the Revolution started the reforms that changed the colony and galactic commerce”. The explanation Marina Herikis gives is that she needed to devote her time to her disabled child and not to government; but of course there’s way more to it than that.

Neri had the perfect vehicle for conveying back-story: Marina’s occupation is as a tour-guide, and the story opens with her telling her group the history of the city and its monuments — a history that is deeply intertwined with Coriolis. The rawness and immediateness of the history that Marina recounts to her customers is palpable, and the way Neri weaves the past and present into a single narrative is superb. The reflective account of a revolution reminded me nothing so much as Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch, and this should be taken as high praise.

REVIEW: “The Barnum Effect” by Celia Neri

Review of Celia Neri, “The Barnum Effect”, Apex Magazine 111 (2018): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Meriam’s work on an artificial intelligence that creates randomized horoscopes for her company’s clients is about to get complicated. BAR – named for the Barnum Effect, a psychological principle whereby people will interpret vaguely worded personality descriptions as being relevant to themselves – has begun acting strangely, and Meriam has to separate her own internal biases from reality.

At long last, the Zodiac issue has brought us a story that incorporates newspaper horoscopes! This brought me so much joy. I loved how the story used the common, scientific understanding of how newspaper horoscopes and other personality tests work, and turned it on its head. This is a great choice for a story very much rooted in our world, full of cell phones and subways and terrorism and islamophobia. It plays with our expectations preconceived notions in a way that is delightfully enjoyable.

This is a great story for both astrology skeptics and true believers, and for those who like their science fiction to be near-future or even present day.