REVIEW: “Accidental Kaiju” by Dianne M. Williams

Review of Dianne M. Williams, “Accidental Kaiju”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

13-year-old Grendela dreams of becoming not another kaiju (a type of great Japanese monster) like her father and grandfather but an environmental scientist. Maybe there’s more to being a lava monster than smashing buildings and destroying cities. Maybe she could use her special knowledge of volcanos to help power cities rather than destroy them. But unfortunately, her little experiment didn’t go as planned.

This was a cute little story about hopes and dreams and how sometimes when one is a teenager one needs a little help and understanding from their parents and grandparents.

(First published in The Confabulator Cafe, 2016).

REVIEW: “Moonlight Plastics” by Rachel Brittain

Review of Rachel Brittain, “Moonlight Plastics”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I found this story a little too in the mind of the MC, Sana — there was a lot of reflection and recrimination and meta content that would’ve made sense if I were properly situated in Sana’s world, but unfortunately, I wasn’t. So I had a hard time putting together all the pieces to figure out who she was and what she was doing, and why it mattered.

I also struggled with the abrupt shift in tone: It started off as a commentary on our modern-day tendency to flood the ocean with plastics, and then suddenly it jumped left and became a mermaid romance.

All in all, not the story for me.

REVIEW: “Ganymede’s Lamps” by Michèle Laframboise

Review of Michèle Laframboise, “Ganymede’s Lamps”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Many stories have been written about what life would be like living on another planet (or moon) in our solar system — the lack of air, the difficulty in growing food, the distance between you and your family and friends left at home — but Laframboise eschews all those grand issues for a much simpler one: What about pets?

More specifically, this is the story of Bethesda’s journey towards getting a cat — and not just any cat, a real cat, not a mech one. On Ganymede, cats are hard to come by and hard to justify. But her birthday is coming up, and maybe this is the year she can convince her mom to get her one.

This is a story any cat lover will appreciate!

REVIEW: “The White Place” by Dana Berube

Review of Dana Berube, “The White Place”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Berube’s story drew me in right from the opening paragraph. I felt the cold of the snow, felt Ti’s hunger, want to know more of how he ended up in Berron’s bed, who the Ordermen were and what sort of church law they maintained. It was the perfect balance of engaging characters, poignant description, and a heart-breakingly sweet and heart-breakingly sad plot that I enjoyed all the way through to the end.

REVIEW: “The Midwife” by Carol Scheina

Review of Carol Scheina, “The Midwife”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Childbirth.

Hannah is a midwife of whom it is told she has never yet lost a mother or child. When she’s called to Emmilene’s childbed (far too late, in her opinion), she must draw upon all of her skill and experience to ensure her streak is not broken.

I found the story weirdly glorifying of the mystical experience of childbirth; it was also uncomfortably exclusionary (falling back into the default assumption that no husband could ever have a place beside his laboring wife). Just little things, but as a result, this story didn’t really do it for me.

REVIEW: “Depth and Meaning” by Jennifer Lee Rossman

Review of Jennifer Lee Rossman, “Depth and Meaning”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Rossman’s stories appear in LSQ not infrequently — but after a couple of years of reading and reviewing LSQ stories, seeing her name attached to one of them is guaranteed to make my ears perk up, as her stories are pretty reliably good ones.

This present story is the story of Emi, a pictomancer like many others in her town, but unlike them, her paintings don’t take on the same magical life as theirs, the potential once seen in her (“People used to tell me I’d be an elder by the time I was twenty.”) trapped and inaccessible.

No one, least of all Emi, talks about what happened to make her this way. But even before she finally articulates it to her sister, it’s easy for reader to fill in the gaps, at least for anyone who has experienced how depression can prevent you from exercising your creative outlets.

That being said, I wasn’t especially keen on the way depression was treated in this story. Dex, Emi’s sister, tells her that it’s a good thing she’s depressed, that suffering is what gives art depth and meaning. Emi’s friend Ronaldo warns her against taking medication for it. Parts of the story felt heavy-handed and preachy at parts, and I’m not sure I liked the message.

REVIEW: “TheraBot” by Hannah Frankel

Review of Hannah Frankel, “TheraBot”, Luna Station Quarterly 42 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Velma’s got a new task at work — to program her replacement, a TheraBot called JoyCE. Why have people administer therapy when a robot can be trained to do the same? Angie works in customer support at the same company, and she’s one of the first to receive therapy from JoyCE.

The story alternates between the two women, and collects together all sorts of present-day anxieties about the future of employment — how AIs will integrate into the job market, the damage caused by anti-absenteeism culture, the rise of workplace-caused depression and anxiety, the panacea of “wellness” — there’s something in it for everyone to identify with! Sometimes it hits a bit too close to home for comfort. 🙂 But rather than accept these things as merely inevitable, Velma and her partner Todd make a decision to pro-actively embrace the future, turning JoyCE to their own purposes, and affecting the course of Angie’s life. I really enjoyed the optimistic turn the story took at the end.

REVIEW: “Sweet Little Lies” by Lindsey Duncan

Review of Lindsey Duncan, “Sweet Little Lies”, Luna Station Quarterly 41 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I really loved this story, one of the best in the issue. It was set in a richly, wildly full world (the opening scenes and characters felt like they could easily support a complete novel), and it was full of beautiful language and parts that made me laugh. This is exactly the sort of fantasy I want to read, and I look forward to reading more by Lindsey Duncan!

REVIEW: “A Life in Six Feathers” by Kathryn Yelinek

Review of Kathryn Yelinek, “A Life in Six Feathers”, Luna Station Quarterly 41 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Oh, I loved this story. It combined intriguing and realistic science with a depth of character and a sweet thread of love and romance, and hope — so much hope. Beautifully constructed, a real joy to read. If you are looking for a “cosy SF” story, this is one for you.

REVIEW: “Mouse, Crow, Cockroach, Valkyrie” by Tiffany Meuret

Review of Tiffany Meuret, “Mouse, Crow, Cockroach, Valkyrie”, Luna Station Quarterly 41 (2020): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is the story of an invasive plant species that kills almost everything it comes in contact with, experienced through the titular characters — a mouse, a crow, and cockroachs.

While I liked the rotating points of views, overall I’m not sure how successful this story was. One the one hand, the experiences of the mouse, the crow, and the cockroach felt too human, too complex, to be believably animal. On the other hand, their experiences and impressions of the “plants” were not enough for me to really understand what they were (were they really plants, or some type of machine?). In the end, the arrival of the valkyries felt strangely out of place.