REVIEW: “Ste·nog·ra·phy” by Mikaela Kesigner

Review of Mikaela Kesigner, “Ste·nog·ra·phy,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 60 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This poem illustrated the fact that Radon Journal isn’t all about spec fic (or spec poetry) — there’s nothing at all speculative about this critique on the justice system, it’s unfortunately rather prosaically ordinary. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t hit me as strongly as some of the other poems in the issue; it’s just a bit too depressing without any imaginative relief.

REVIEW: “When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones” by Avra Margariti

Review of Avra Margariti, “When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 54 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The title is itself almost a flash fic story, and it sets up a lot of pressure on the rest of the poem to rise to the occasion. We don’t find out who “you” is until the end of the first stanza, and the reveal makes sense of the title. I almost think the poem would’ve been stronger ending there; the second stanza felt a little unnecessary, to me.

(First published in Asimov’s Science Fiction

REVIEW: “confessional” by James Redfern

Review of James Redfern, “confessional,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 57 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I was going to scroll back up through the issue to find a story to review today, but then I glanced at the first stanza of this poem, and it sucked me in and I’d read the entire thing before I realised it. It’s both hilarious, and hilariously on-point commentary on labor in the era of capitalism.

REVIEW: “The Problem Is” by Thomas Mixon

Review of Thomas Mixon, “The Problem Is,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 55 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This poem nicely encapsulates the existential angst that comes from living in a digital world where everyone is reachable all the time and no one is ever in sync with anyone else, and offers a plea to return to simpler times. On the one hand, I’m sympathetic; on the other hand, I think we’re better off going forward, rather than retrograde.

REVIEW: “Eight Dwarfs on Planet X” by Avra Margariti

Review of Avra Margariti, “Eight Dwarfs on Planet X,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 52-53 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I’m never quite sure if I like SF poetry, but if all SF poetry were like this poem by Margariti, then I definitely would. It struck the perfect balance of poetry and story, and was very definitely SF without needing to rely on spaceships or stars. The fact that it’s a retelling of a classic fairy tale is just an added bonus.

REVIEW: “Halsing for the Anchylose” by Stewart C. Baker

Review of Stewart C. Baker, “Halsing for the Anchylose,” Fantasy Magazine 72 (October 2021): 29 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This poem managed to tell a complex story in a compact fashion. Reading it, I felt that it hinted at so much more than it was able to say, and I wondered if the title held clues to what the “more” was. Unfortunately, no dictionary shed any light on either term, so I remain intrigued, but baffled.

REVIEW: “Soonest Mended” by Honor Hamlet and Till Kaeufer

Review of Honor Hamlet and Till Kaeufer, “Soonest Mended”, in Around Distant Suns, ed. by Emma Johanna Puranen (Guardbridge Books, 2021): 17-20 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I have pretty narrow tastes when it comes to poetry, and I’ll admit this one wasn’t exactly my cup of tea; it was a bit too “post-modern”, I think, for my tastes — unsurprising because Hamlet and Kaeufer’s collaboration is one of the closest, with Kaeufer contributing a machine learning programming that actual wrote a line of the poem! But what I loved, and which makes poems like this such a wonderful contribution to the volume, was what the poet and the scientist said in their collaboration notes: “While writing a poem, you’re constantly asking if the information in the previous line is relevant enough to trigger a reaction in the next line” (p. 20). What I want from my fiction and poetry is something that makes me think about things differently, and I got that.