Review of Hannah Sternberg, “Goners”, Luna Station Quarterly 32 (2017): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.
One thing that ties a lot of SFF/Spec Fic together is a distinct lack of place. The anonymity of the setting allows the readers to fill in the gaps however they need to to make the story their own. Sternberg’s “Goners” introduces its setting from the very start — and though it’s been nearly 13 years since I left Wisconsin, I always have a little nostalgic soft spot for that state. (I do wonder a bit at why the narrator went from Wisconsin to North Carolina via the Great Plains — or how he knew to put vinegar on a jellyfish sting). But it is precisely the specificity and the namedness of the geography that Sternberg hangs her speculative twist on. That twist, making up the middle third of the story, was where I thought the story shone the most; the beginning was a bit ordinary, and the ending was a bit explanatory, but during the middle I was wholly uncertain as to how things would go, which I love in a story.