REVIEW: “The Death Haiku of the Azure Five” by L Chan

Review of L. Chan, “The Death Haiku of the Azure Five”, Clarkesworld Issue 182, November (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A very technical sort of story, maybe we could call it hard science fiction? It’s a war fought in outer space, by AI. And these particular second-gen AIs don’t have much in the way of free will. What they do have, is a bit of poetry at the end of their lives. Poetry they can write near death, participating in a war they don’t really want to fight.

But they have a little family, and they look out for each other. Suffused with emotion amidst all the technicality, it makes for an interesting read!

REVIEW: “Chasing Flowers” by L. Chan

Review of L. Chan, Chasing Flowers, Podcastle: 498 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

A ghost story and a love story–that is, a story of love between ghosts, trying to find a path to reunion in the face of the rules of the Chinese afterlife. In the initial exposition we are given a sketch of those rules, how they tore the two women apart after death, and the doomed circumstances of their love in life that locked them into a cycle of seeking. But one is truly a ghost while the other has been doomed(?) to cycles of rebirth, never entirely knowing why her life is full of emptiness and pain. This psychic connection is tied symbolically in the story to depression and self-harm, with a repeating motif of cutting echoing the harvesting of sap from rubber trees, as well as themes of the harm that women do themselves or allow to be done to them in the name of conformity and tradition. There’s a lot of darkness in this story but a hopeful ending–or as hopeful as a love story can be when one of the two is a ghost.