Review of Jaymee Goh, “A Field of Sapphires and sunshine”, in Glass and Gardens: Solar Punk Summers, edited by Sarena Ulibarri, (World Weaver Press, 2018): 105-116 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I suppose the relevant adage for a short story is that you shouldn’t judge it by its title. But I’m too avid a follower of Your YA Fantasy Series on twitter for the title of this one not to make me smirk (in fact, the day I wrote this review, the most recent tweet suggested the title A Bungalow of Sapphires and Earthquakes).
Snark and smirks aside, parts of the story I really enjoyed, with its eclectic mix of steampunk elements, with their slight sense of antiquation, and rather more traditional futuristic sci fi. On the one hand, there’s almost-entirely-electronically-conducted business, while on the other hand there are airships that take a week to cross the Pacific and are kitted out with suraus for Muslim passengers, and which farm their own fuel so that they never need touch the ground. Parts of the story, I found a bit didactic — there was a lot of “history” being rehearsed in a way that felt rather dry and detached, backstory being added for the sake of backstory rather than for the sake of the actual story, and we are informed rather bluntly that Alina’s mother “knew she was bisexual, of course”. In the end, I felt the story was a little let down by the delivery — and the title ended up not having that much to do with the story itself.