REVIEW: “The Flyswatter” by Nick Greenleaf

Review of Nick Greenleaf, “The Flyswatter,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 34-39 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Tomo and Tommy fix electronics, but it’s not enough to make a living out of, so occasionally Tomo brings back other jobs for them. It’s a dangerous mission, involving Tomo hooking herself into a neural interface to try to hack her way in through a back door, but will bring in a lot of money.

There’s a fine line between explaining too much and explaining too little, but unfortunately this story fell on the latter side for me. I was never quite sure what Tomo was targetting — a person or a corporation? And the technicians who showed up at the end, their connection to the whole process also wasn’t clear to me. A lot of potential in this story, just not quite realised.

REVIEW: “Superluminal” by Kevin Helock

Review of Kevin Helock, “Superluminal,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 29-33 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The best part about science fiction is that you can ignore science when needed in favor of fiction; on the other hand, if you want to write science fiction you can’t ignore too much science. With his story of faster-than-light travel and a 3000-strong colony on Mars, Helock has managed to hit a good balance between giving up science, without feeling any needed to explain how, and yet keeping the bones of the narrative credible.*

(*Other than the fact that anyone in so far distant a future would consider Elon Musk one of the “Great Men” of history. But Maxim seems the sort of person who would idolize Musk.)

REVIEW: “Battles Yet to Win” by Devi Lacroix

Review of Devi Lacroix, “Battles Yet to Win,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 85-95 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The story opens with a feel I traditionally associated with fantasy, and when it segued into science fiction it did so in a way that didn’t clash with the atmosphere that had already been created. The juxtaposition was well-done and I enjoyed it. And this was merely setting the stage for a rich story of complex relationships between ambiguous characters, all of which made for an extremely satisfying read. (There is also a subtle, but excellent, slight rewriting of history, which I loved.)

REVIEW: “The Last Good Day” by JL George

Review of JL George, “The Last Good Day,” Cossmass Infinities 7 (2022): 94-103 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is the story of a slow, vague apocalypse. Grocery deliveries disappearing. Dust everywhere. One more day, and another day after that, with a partner who cannot bear to be with you. It’s hard, heavy reading; not particularly fun, but nevertheless rewarding. One gets the feeling that the author exorcised a lot of Covid-pandemic demons in the writing of the story, even if it is not a pandemic story, strictly speaking. There’s a lot to relate to in this.

REVIEW: “Between Zero and One There is Infinity” by Shari Paul

Review of Shari Paul, “Between Zero and One There is Infinity”, Clarkesworld Issue 182, November (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A high stakes story that pulls you into it right from the beginning. There’s habitation on Mars, humans coexisting with (and also fighting with) alien invaders, people being uploaded to computers, and space pirates!

So many elements in this novelette, and all of them paced super well in a tight plot. The characters are fleshed out so well, even the minor ones. A very engaging read, and you’ll definitely love it if any of these settings/character types appeal to you. To be frank, you’d enjoy it even otherwise!

REVIEW: “The Birth of a Child” by Joyce Chng

Review of Joyce Chng, “The Birth of a Child,” Luna Station Quarterly 19 (2014): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

What a beautiful pearl of a story, with so many wonderful threads. For one, it captures beautifully all the ambivalence that can surround childbirth, how it can be a combination of the most beautiful thing ever and the most cold, sterile, and heartless thing, too. For another, it mixes traditional fairy tale and romance tropes with modern concerns of immigration, alienation, foreigness, and cultural appropriation, creating a perfect blend of fantasy and Vietnamese culture. I really loved this, absolutely stellar.

REVIEW: “Ceilidh McCallum Versus the Super Evil Fairy Lady” by Gabrielle Lissauer

Review of Gabrielle Lissauer, “Ceilidh McCallum Versus the Super Evil Fairy Lady,” Luna Station Quarterly 19 (2014): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

If you, like me, read the title and wondered if it telegraphed something about the central characters of the story: The answer is yes, this is told from the point of view of a young girl, probably 5 or 6. Or rather, it’s told (partially) in what an adult thinks the point of view of a child of around that age would be; and I confess that I do not think it was done very successfully or accurately. This might be the story for some of you; it was not the story for me.

(There also appears to be a continuity error: When Ceilidh sets off on her quest, the kitten Trouble is left behind in the ruins of her battlefield; but half-way through her quest, Ceilidh is clutching Trouble close. Since Trouble plays a crucial role in Ceilidh’s defeat of the Super Evil Fairy Lady, this is a problematic oversight.)