This story is both one final fairy tale that a mother tells her child, of bargains made for wishes fulfilled, and a pretty classic SF story, of genetically engineered soldiers and trans-world travel. I like it when authors play with genres like this, and Scheina’s touching story does so successfully.
Content note: Reference to suicide.
Harding’s funny, moving story takes on the question: How, exactly, do you navigate a long-distance relationship when the two parties live on different planets?
In the case of Sam and Amelia, the answer is: Not very well, as we get to see through a series of letters Amelia sends Sam, exploring the relationships between each other, and between each of them and their home. I am definitely on Amelia’s side, in this, and it’s not just because we only get to hear her side.
Content note: Death of a child.
A quiet, sad, reflective piece, economic with words and yet nevertheless extremely effective in wringing out all the emotions. A great way to kick off this issue.
This was a delightfully bizarre story, full of flying Bureaucroaks and semi-sentient aqueducts, and of course the titular Leviathan who lives beneath the bridge and is either killer or saviour. There is a strong emotional tension in the story of the narrator and his friends, and the description of how the city first woke up and came alive is vivid and arresting.
One of the longer pieces in this issue, this story nevertheless read quick and easily, with a lovely rhythm and crisp pacing.
The setting is distinctly dystopian (the premise of the WorkHart is deliciously creepy), and yet what shines through is Tev and Hoysel’s friendship, real and brilliant and delightful. A second strong point of the story is Harvey’s insightful social criticism via Tev’s critique of Reetus’s economics — Tev understands much better than Reetus does that just because one is poor doesn’t mean that they are undeserving of joy!
Anyone who’s experienced the lows of academia — science denial, departments closing, loss of funding — will find themselves relating strongly to both Jenny the “Taiwanese Pasadena city-rat gone good gone bad” and Tara the “button-down type ready to break out of her box”, the ex-scientist and the scientist thrown together to figure out how to get something — something personal, not science — are both engaging characters with a believable back-and-forth. Other than a few paragraphs that felt a bit claggy and clunky with info dump, I enjoyed this.
In this story, the narrator catches souls the way that fishermen catch fish. There’s a lot of net repair and boat repair and stories of the ones that got away. And like real-world fishermen who are watching the decline of the ocean’s stock due to human involvement and climate change, the soul catcher here is faced with the concern that every day she’s catching fewer souls.
Told in a series of log entries, the story felt intimate and personal and each entry made me want to read the next, to find out, even if obliquely, what would happen. Good pacing, beautiful language, a wonderful ending — a pleasure to read!
I found this a confusing read, constantly having to scroll back up to connect names to characters, referents to pronouns; it took me more than two pages before I discovered that “Shardon” is the name of a settlement, not of a person. I think I could have enjoyed this more if the set-up and structure had been clearer from the start.
When “quantum scale weirdness [rises] up to poison the macro-scale world”, things do not go well. That’s the setting/premise for this story, that quantum fluctuations give rise to the quickening, which in turn is linked to the canker, both of which can only be identified, or stopped, through observation. There are too many possibilities until one definite reality is observed.
I really enjoyed this innovative take on quantum uncertainty.
Sam learned how to walk through the woods in the Quiet from her father (a skill her brother Jamie never really understood). The Quiet is what allows Sam and her family to hunt, and at first, reading the story, the Quiet seems peaceful, tranquil, something good. It’s only as you read further along that you realise just what it is that Sam and her family are hunting…
An unexpectedly gruesome and vicious story!