REVIEW: “In Search of Stars” by Matthew Bright

Review of Matthew Bright, “In Search of Stars”, Glittership Episode 43 (2017): Read/listen online. Reviewed by Julia K. Patt.

What an unusual, mysterious story.

Our unnamed narrator is a scientist living in Los Angeles; he develops a blue paint that makes people float away into the sky. This is what he does with his one-night stands, the men he takes back to his apartment. He wants these men, sometimes desperately, but doesn’t want to linger with them or see them again. There’s a sense that by releasing them into the atmosphere, our narrator is protecting himself, distancing himself from what he really wants.

Of course, not all of them go quietly or disappear unforgotten. We can understand, perhaps, why the narrator is so uneasy.

Anonymity dominates not only in his life but also in the city itself, a peculiar hybrid of shiny Hollywood glamour and “Good old American filth.” Where all the women are named Marilyn and even laundromats turn into something very different at night. No one is exactly as they seem or as they claim to be, including—especially—the man telling this story.

It’s a story rich in the unspoken, the undeclared, which becomes more than a little unsettling (in the best way). There’s very little dialogue, aside from the narrator’s conversations with Eugene, an old friend from school who works on movies. And even his time with Eugene eventually lapses into silence at the story’s conclusion.

Then the narrator must make a decision: to stay or float away himself and join the men he’s sent into the sky.

REVIEW: “In Strange, Far Places” by Julia K. Patt

Review of Julia K. Patt, “In Strange, Far Places”, Luna Station Quarterly 30: Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

What happens when you fare forth into the stars, searching for a new home, but never find one? What happens when you no longer have the resources to go further — and you also no longer have the resources to get back to where you started? So much speculation about space travel seeks for the happy ending, that we will leave this planet and find a new one to make our home. But in truth, the endings of most space travellers will not be happy, they will be “left to live out their lives in the void until the synthetic atmos failed or the oxygenating phytos died or the food ran out.”

When your resources are used up, when you’re left to the mercies of the passing ships who might stop and pick you up and take you home, that is when this story starts. Em recounts her history and that of her comrades in simple, straightforward words; this is her life, and she knows that she is lucky. Not every story will have a happy ending, and yet this doesn’t mean that the story itself is not happy. But happy or sad, who knows what lurks behind the stars…