Are you looking for a very sweet, very cute queer romance set in space with a determined matchmaker AI? Then, oh, my goodness, is this the story for you! It was an utter delight from the first to the last, with just the right ending.
It’s not often I read a human-meets-alien story that’s successfully told from the alien’s point of view. Too often, the aliens still feel all too familiar, too like-us. Not so with McEntee’s narrator, living alone on her comet, who is such that when a human arrives, the invader is so foreign, so different, that they are truly the alien. The ending was a bit trite, but the core of the story was solid.
Reading recent climate news, it’s hard to escape the fact that we are already living on a dying earth; Leveret’s story is timely, then, in the sense that it could easily happen in our near future, maybe a generation from now — enough time for people on earth to figured out how to get off it.
Of course, even if that happens, we all know that not everyone is going to get to go, and “We Who Are Left On This Dying Earth” is the story of two who won’t be, one because she is too old, the other because he is too sick. Because of course it is the old and the weak and the poor who will get left behind.
You might think that this story would be an angry, unhappy story; but instead, there was just enough hope to make it happy, but not too much to make it unrealistic.
Ever since the Kalo invasion, Tian has practiced forgetting — forgetting her younger sister, Asan, left with her grandmother back in the village; forgetting that she is Zaluat; forgetting that her Zaluat ancestors passed down their circle magic to her. But when her grandmother dies and Asan is put into the Training Institute, Tian can forget no longer. She attempts a daring rescue of her sister, and in their escape they both learn the truth of their ancestor’s circle power, in a very clever allusion to the title.
This was a story rich in magic, history, oppression, and strength, and was a very satisfying read.
Content note: Attempted suicide.
This story hops between 2005 and 1934, and the experiences of two women, otherwise entirely unconnected from each other, each undergoing electro-convulsive therapy to fix them, to make them forget. One woman is schizophrenic; the other, bi-polar. At least, that’s what the husband or the brother says, the one who committed them in the first place. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter, though; what matters is that somehow these two women manage to find each other and support each other, and help each other survive the abuse: “Through a funnel of time, two women hold each other up.”
This was not a typical LSQ story, and the use of real-world people in it (see note at the end of the story) was a bit off-putting for me; but I really liked the premise of women supporting women across time.
Content warning: Underage rape.
The Minstrel is in love with a girl who has become a tree — it’s the sort of premise that you’d expect to find in a fairy tale, and maybe this story is a fairy tale at heart, though on the surface it is something rather odder than that. I didn’t care overmuch for the Minstrel, but I found Plum’s existence fascinating (if the story of how she got there horrifying), and Miss Ursula who is old enough to call a snow-bearded minstrel “young” was equally charming. Best of all was the very satisfying revenge and comeuppance that Plum wrecked on the god that raped her as a child.
No one really worries about the arrival of our Robot Overlords, not seriously, not in real life. What worries 21st C first-world residents is the arrival of our Robot Colleagues, the self-checkout machines, the automations that will turn the working class into the unemployed class. Hooker’s story plays on that fear, giving us a world of bots “a quarter of which, which by law, had to represent a real person receiving a real paycheck” — but even those real people aren’t necessarily doing the work themselves, most of them just rent another bot to do the work for them. Short, but sweet, this was an excellent story.
Content note: Alcoholic parent.
Thirteen year old Marina doesn’t know what’s harder to deal with — the tentacles that slurp against her bedroom window at night, or about the fact that her mother doesn’t seem to think this is anything out of the ordinary. The opening of this story is weird and creepy, but when even Marina’s mom can’t ignore the tentacles and her whole history spills out, it takes a hard, sharp shift into the deliciously amusing and touchingly poignant. I really enjoyed this!
For anyone woman who has lived through parenting a newborn with an unsupportive partner, or seen a friend live through the same: This will be a hard story to read. Bree’s baby Pippa is 9 weeks old, and her entire world has changed, except for perhaps the one thing that should — she is still expected to be the smart, funny, put-together, beautiful wife who gets supper on the table every day. She’s become a mother — but Max certainly hasn’t yet become a father! (The fact that Max was Bree’s professor when they first started going out certainly doesn’t make him any more sympathetic!) In a sense, this is a horror story, one that I read the whole time hoping that Bree would find a way to get out, to escape, to get Max out of her life. I’m not sure if that’s the angle George was going for, but if it was, she nailed it. This was a deeply unsettling, vaguely disturbing story.
I really had no idea what was going on in the early paragraphs of this story — they necessitated not one but two rereads before I could keep enough of it in my head to plunge on.
If “gritty realism” and “vampire romance” don’t conflict with each other, then those are the two phrases I would pick to describe this story. It wasn’t a happy, fluffy romance; it’s more of the uncomfortable “how close can you make a relationship sound abusive without actually being abusive” type of romance. But this was definitely unlike any other vampire story I’ve ever read.