Bee once visited the witch in the water and came back with a spell that didn’t work; now she’s come back to beg for a second chance: It’s a quick summary for what is at times a rather stretched-out, sometimes plodding, story. I felt like I would have enjoyed this better if it had been about half the length — and if it weren’t quite so moralizing.
Content note: Premature birth, homophobia.
This was less of a story and more of a series of episodes; but I enjoyed reading it for the detailed Indian world in the background, and for its happy ending.
Content note: Death of a parent.
Hannah and her family — two brothers, a mother, (maybe a father but we never hear about him) — lived on a poisoned island, a place no one ever visited and people only left never to come back. She was there to witness the final airplane that left, taking away the last people who would ever escape. Her story is bloody, visceral, and sad, in ways I did not expect, and threaded through and through with a horrible, malicious religion. A chilling but very good read.
This rather overburdened title accompanied a rather verbose and somewhat lyrical story, kicking off in a chanting sort of rhythm instructing me to do all sorts of things — the sort of opening that always puts me on edge. But if you don’t mind this style of writing, then here’s a little tale with a whole load of Welsh-fairy-tale influences for you.
Larron is pregnant and on probation, her movements, her choices, her life restricted. When her story opens, it is entirely ordinary — up until the moment she finds a package of redbeans, tucked away forgotten on a grocery store shelf. Immediately things shift into the realm of the speculative, in a way that made me anxious with anticipation to find out what’s so special about these redbeans, and how they will change her life (because of course they will. That’s how stories work). I thought I’d get a fairy tale ending; instead I got a horror story!
Content note: Death of a parent.
The story starts off with one parent dying and the other lying about it to their child. It’s a tough start: Not in the sense that it is sad, but in the sense that I am royally judging the narrator and her decision to lie to her child. The narrator thinks she’s being a good mom — but I cannot see any way towards believing that.
As the story progresses it became quite clear that I was right to be on Team Don’t Lie to Your Child, especially as the lies only became compounded. I’m not sure if Glover meant me to feel sympathetically towards the narrator, but, wow, I did not, and ended up (sadly) really disliking this story.
This was a beautiful love elegy — slow paced but never dragging or over written, continually building emotions in layers. Nothing much happened, it mostly meandered from one place to another, but the strength and depth of feeling evoked something visceral in me. And that was before everything turned sad.
It was also very long, and yet, it seemed to be simultaneously exactly the right length. A very well put together piece.
SF stories don’t incorporate religion often enough, so Rex’s story, which weaves together, poetry and ritual, science and religion, from the start predisposed me to like it. When the religious aspect were not monolithic, but diverse and varied across cultures, I liked it even more. And when she started poking fun at traditional theism and citing medieval philosophers? I knew I was in for a real treat! This was a wonderful mixture of mysticism and rationalism, and I really enjoyed it.
I had high hopes for this story, from the title and the opening paragraph, but I’m not sure they were quite met. The story was characterized by sharp, staccato dialogue between two characters who know much more than the reader does; with a richer background context and worldbuilding, this uncertainty could’ve been used to spark interest in the characters and build a connection between them and the reader, but because the depth of background/context wasn’t there, I didn’t feel the urgency of the conversation that clearly the characters did. Overall, it just felt a little bit flat.