REVIEW: “Phalium arium ssp. anam” by Victoria Sandbrook

Review of Victoria Sandbrook, “Phalium arium ssp. anam”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Nora Sullivan, “the strange one”, will take any justification she can to go see the sideshow, even if it means accompanying John Reidy (“a nice young man from a nice family”, for all that he seems uninterested in the company of the woman he invited to come with him). Much of what is at the show are disappointing fakes, but some…some of them were real, and magic, and crying out to Nora to be rescued.

This rather quick and quiet story reminded me of Mommy Fortuna’s Carnival in Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. But here, things end hopefully, rather than in chaos.

REVIEW: “The Mothership” by K. Bannerman

Review of K. Bannerman, “The Mothership”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Miscarriage/stillbirth, violent labor.

Fifty sleeping women set off for Titan, populating a mothership whose purpose is both figurative and literal. The problem is that only one of the women managed to become, and stay, pregnant. For all the other forty-nine, either the procedure didn’t work or they awoke before the end of nine months, miscarrying. Now Kyana is awake…and the news is not good.

It’s a rather horrific story, not because it is gruesome or gory or particularly vivid, but just because of the strength of the sadness that comes with that much loss of life and hope. It’s much easier to deal with the abstract notion of the end of the human race, when the last adult dies and there are no new babies left to be born. It’s another when those babies die before they have even had a chance to live. There is a twist of hope at the end, but it’s hardly enough to offset all the bleakness.

REVIEW: “Checkmate” by J. S. Veter

Review of J. S. Veter, “Checkmate”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Attempted suicide, assisted suicide.

Umam Preth is stuck at the end of the world with his dead wife’s AI and a shriveled apple. Everything else is gone, and he’s got 5 more minutes left before he is gone too. It’s every scientist’s dream, isn’t it? To be the one who gets to see the end of the world, to record it, to make notes, to see exactly how all things go out. But it’s also every scientist’s nightmare, to be the one who caused the nothing that is swallowing up galaxies. No wonder Umam Preth wants to kill himself.

The story opens with an attempted suicide, and yet, the entire thing was more amusing than anything, reminding me of Douglas Adams.

REVIEW: “Winter Flowers” by Alessia Galatini

Review of Alessia Galatini, “Winter Flowers”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love new tellings of old stories, and even more when the retelling makes the story itself become now. “Winter Flowers” is the story of Demeter and Persephone, not just transposed into the 20th century, but reincarnated. For Demeter and Persephone are goddesses, never dying; why should their stories be limited to ancient Greece?

The story is in four parts, one for each of the seasons, two for Demeter, two for Persephone. It’s San Francisco in the summer of 1967, and Persephone has returned to Demeter to enjoy summer, while Hades is busy in Vietnam, for “somebody has to take care of the bodies in Vietnam”. But it’s also the fall of 1929, and depression has hit, spiralling towards sadness and darkness. And it’s winter of 1943, in the bleakness of Auschwitz; there cannot be any better symbol of death than that. And then it is spring again, at the turn of a millennia, and Demeter and Persephone return to the Greece they once knew, where “Staring at the world from the ruins of our old empire, we are back to the gods we once were.”

Neither Demeter’s nor Persephone’s story is an easy one, to tell or retell; but I enjoyed Galatini’s very much.

REVIEW: “Better You Than Me” by Natalia Yanchek

Review of Natalia Yanchek, “Better You Than Me”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Death is final, death is permanent, death cannot be changed or escaped. It seems easy and natural to feel that death is the worst possible outcome, to be avoided at all costs.

But death is quick, it is easy, it is momentary, while “sadness is ongoing.” Is it better to die and be wholly extinguished, or to be left behind alive, to mourn the one who has died forever?

In this story, who is dead, who is dying, and who is being killed isn’t always clear. Unfortunately, I felt like it needed to be more clear than it was to really follow what was going on, so in the end I think I missed out on a key piece of the story. This may be one worth rereading, since it was intriguing enough that I would like to know exactly what was going on.

REVIEW: “Pulling Secrets from Stones” by Beth Goder

Review of Beth Goder, “Pulling Secrets from stones”, Luna Station Quarterly 35 (2018): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Rachel has too many memories, and “when the secret memories rubbed up against the regular ones…the magic became duller”. So she stored her memories in stones, locking each secret up in a rock, and hiding the rocks in a lake where the touch of water meant she could still access them when needed. But then drought came and now her memories are lost. Rachel cannot find them again until she can master her fear of what they contain.

This story weaves the speculative and the ordinary together in a marvelously seamless way, very enjoyable.