REVIEW: “The Knells of Agassiz” by Holly Schofield

Review of Holly Schofield, “The Knells of Agassiz,” Luna Station Quarterly 53 (2023): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love it when a story gives me cause to pause and look something up to see if it’s real or not. In this case, it was the Agassiz Ice Cap, and it’s real — but for who knows how long. Climate change and the quickly disappearing ice cap form the basis for Schofield’s story, in which Emma returns to the ice cap one last time to say good-bye. It could so easily be a sad and depressing story, but it is not: It has the tinge of realistic hope that all good climate SF should have.

REVIEW: “The Call of the Wold” by Holly Schofield

Review of Holly Schofield, “The Call of the Wold”, in Glass and Gardens: Solar Punk Summers, edited by Sarena Ulibarri, (World Weaver Press, 2018): 67-81 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

If you’re looking for a story of a futuristic commune where the role of King Solomon is played by a 70-year-old itinerant on the run from her environmental charity owning brother, this is the story for you! Julie Leung is an engaging and distinctive choice of main character, and I sympathise with how difficult she finds the balancing act of being an introvert in a world built for extroverts.

I enjoyed the story well enough, though it started off quite introspective, with the external events mostly serving to give Julie reason to pause and reflect on her own life, both past and future, and it never quite lost its slow pace.

(And I have to admit, every single time I saw this title in my “to review” queue, I misread it as “The Call of the Wild”. I have no intentional if the Jack London reference was intentional, but it certainly was inescapable, for me.)

REVIEW: “Heart Proof” by Holly Schofield

Review of Holly Schofield, “Heart Proof”, Luna Station Quarterly 33 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

There is a lot of world-building that has gone into this story — always a plus — but the flip side of it is that I’m not sure I got the details I needed to get when I needed to get them.

The story opens with a strong sense of anger and antagonism between the two main characters, Kamik and Techan. The tension is palpable, but I found it difficult to figure out where it came from. I feel like I’ve been dumped into the story a bit too precipitously and so I don’t know enough of their history to understand why their tempers are so short and why they are so angry with each other, because it is also clear that they have known each other for a long time and were, at least once, friends. It is only later that one very oblique comment makes me realise that they are — or at least once were — lovers.

The classic fantasy story involves a quest, and the quest in this story is one of pilgrimage — pilgrimage to make sacrifice, “a sacrifice to a god I no longer believe in!” (so says Kamik). We learn that the pilgrimage is one that every member of the village one makes, but it takes a long while to find out why Kamik and Techan are making the pilgrimage now, so late in their lives — it is nearly half-way through that I find out that the pilgrimage isn’t a one-time thing, but something that is done every time the god Welmit eats the moon.

So the story took me awhile to suck me in. But when Kamik reaches the edge of Welmit’s Maw and begins to contemplate heresy, then I was hooked. My only complaint by the end is that I wished the heresy had been a bit more heretical, a bit less orthodox.