REVIEW: “Felt” by Denise Khng

Review of Denise Khng, “Felt,” Luna Station Quarterly 51 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was a beautiful love elegy — slow paced but never dragging or over written, continually building emotions in layers. Nothing much happened, it mostly meandered from one place to another, but the strength and depth of feeling evoked something visceral in me. And that was before everything turned sad.

It was also very long, and yet, it seemed to be simultaneously exactly the right length. A very well put together piece.

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: “Love Like Chocolate” by Risa Wolf

Review of Risa Wolf, “The Long Way Home” Cossmass Infinities 9 (2022): 115-122 — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Oh, this was a heartbreaker! I could feel it from the very opening scene, when we meet Kari and Sonora (and their new puppy!) and find out just how much they love each other — and also that something is not right. The dramatic tension as we find out what that something is, over the course of the story, is perfectly pitched and left me shattered at the ending.

REVIEW: “Seraph in Ruins” by Mere Rain

Review of Mere Rain, “Seraph in Ruins” Cossmass Infinities 9 (2022): 98-109 — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Seraph is a monster, and a loaner; whatever the vampires are hunting isn’t her problem. It’s only boredom, boredom that sees her rescue the woman and ensure she makes her way safely out of the zone that has “more monsters than spare parts” (p. 100). Of course, that’s what Seraph tells herself: we, the reader, know it is far more than that.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than smugly watching two characters convince themselves they are not falling for each other until they give up. This story provides all that enjoyment and more, that I read with a smile that just kept getting bigger and bigger.

REVIEW: “Home Bound” by Melanie Bell

Review of Melanie Bell, “Home Bound” Cossmass Infinities 9 (2022): 54-61 — Read or purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Death.

As someone who gave up a life in the US for a life in Europe — and, ultimately, England — I found a lot to sympathise with Beth, the heroine, in this story, who inherits her great-grandmother’s house and makes the leap across the ocean. I additionally sympathised with the basic premise of the story, that one’s soul can and up becoming bound up with the house that they live in, although in Beth’s case, this is literal: Her great-grandmother cannot die until she passes the house on to someone who shares her blood.

It did feel, a bit, though, like it was a story written by someone who has read about England, but hasn’t lived here. The NHS is slowly being dismantled and destroyed (although: <sarcams>Maybe a thriving NHS is the fantasy element of the story</sarcasm>), she’s more likely to be drinking squash than juice, McDonald’s is unlikely to be the main source of cheap coffees…) On the flip side, it’s been long enough since the start of Covid-19 that it feels wrong when stories don’t acknowledge it, and right when they do, as this one does.

REVIEW: “Ghosts in My Lungs” by Madeleine Sardina

Review of Madeleine Sardina, “Ghosts in My Lungs,” Luna Station Quarterly 50 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I’m not sure if the titular ghosts were intended to be a metaphor for disease — they certainly can be read that way, but it’s not required — or if they’re just a fun creepy thing to imagine and write a story about, but either way, they definitely made for a fun creepy thing to read a story about, especially entangled in an absolutely glorious love story. A real treat!

REVIEW: “What Has Waited Between the Stars” by Daphne Fama

Review of Daphne Fama, “What Has Waited Between the Stars,” Luna Station Quarterly 50 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Woman breaks up with her girlfriend, takes to the stars, crashes on a lonely planet: A simple, and not especially original, premise. The only thing that kept me going through the opening paragraphs was the hint of the title, the promise that I might be dazzled with something unexpected.

The abrupt shift the story took about three quarters of the way through was certainly unexpected, but I think I ended up more perplexed than dazzled. And odd little SF tale!

REVIEW: “The Answer Was Snails” by Bo Balder

Review of Bo Balder, “The Answer Was Snails”, Clarkesworld Issue 181, October (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

The protagonist, Robin, is trapped in a terrarium by an alien. A mish-mash of creatures who have no business being placed together, but they are. And that’s why every day is a struggle for Robin.

What keeps them going is knowing their partner Annie is nearby, unfortunately trapped in an adjacent terrarium.

It’s difficult for both of them, but they decide to try to be together, if they can’t be free. There’s a lot at stake and they stay strong and hopeful throughout.