REVIEW: “Wayfarers” by Heather Morris

Review of Heather Morris, “Wayfarers”, Luna Station Quarterly 27 (2016): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: References to rape.

The titular wayfarers in Morris’s story are only vaguely hinted at, and the hints are not pretty — they are drug-users, they shriek and scream, they will rape “anyone they think can make babies,” as Meli, the head whore of Honeycomb, tells Athena, the narrator. As of the opening of the story, that class of people now contains Athena, whose period has just started and who “For twelve years I figured that one day I would wake up a boy. Bein’ a woman was worse than bein’ dead.”

Athena has to face not only the betrayal of her body but also the capture of her friend by the wayfarers. The only way to rescue the one is to come to terms with the other. In the end, I mostly felt sad for Athena. No one should have to feel resigned about being a woman, not when there are other options out there.

REVIEW: “There’s No Need to Fear the Darkness” by Heather Morris

Review of Heather Morris, “There’s No Need to Fear the Darkness”, Luna Station Quarterly 33 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Brenda is one of those characters where a few paragraphs in, already I’m thinking, I like her. I want to get a beer with her sometime and hear stories about her job. She wouldn’t bore me with small talk, and I bet she has had some interesting adventures. And I bet she wouldn’t mind if I whittered on about my job; she strikes me as someone who both gives and takes. Morris describes Brenda as “petty and mean-spirited”, but I’d call her “honest” rather.

I like her no-nonsense approach to her work and to the stupidity of humanity, and I love the casual and easy love and friendship that flows between her and the other two “Lazes” (short for “Lazaruses”; I did make the mistake of mentally mispronouncing the word the first time it was used, not (yet) knowing it’s origin). I love the humor that Brenda, Cade, and Aage have — I laughed out loud more than once reading this story.

I like reading stories like this because I wish there were more people like this in the world, and since there aren’t, I just have to settle with reading stories about them instead.

REVIEW: “Maps of Infinity” by Heather Morris

Review of Heather Morris, “Maps of Infinity”, Shimmer 38: [Read online]. Reviewed by Sarah Grace Liu.

Oh my heart. I loved this story so much. I’m a sucker for mythological retellings, ones that show our monsters and our heroes from other sides. I loved this even more because I didn’t know who Asterion was, and I didn’t need to, really. I didn’t know the name. But I knew the character. I soon caught on through contextual clues, but I love that I didn’t know through his entire first section, preventing me from coming to the story with any preconceived ideas. This probably would not be the case for many readers, but it worked for me. So I won’t tell you. Even if you already know just from what I’ve said.

The story orients us to Asterion by presenting him first, and telling his side through second person, as if the narrator is also addressing the you of the reader, bringing us within his sphere. We can imagine his thoughts, we don’t balk at his agency. It allowed me to encounter Asterion fully, to have empathy for this character who is an outsider and who feels deeply.

I feel ashamed to admit that if the King’s ugly daughter likewise comes from a named mythological character, I don’t know it. She seemed more of a patchwork creation to me, comprised of bits of other characters. Perhaps the moreso because she is unnamed in the story. There are opportunities for deeper interpretation just within that.

Regardless, they play off of each other beautifully, these two creatures who defy categorization of and social box or binary. I simply adored this story.