This was a weird, almost grotesque, little fairy tale. It has all the characteristic roles — the Queen, the King, the Hunter — it has monsters beyond the castle walls, secrets, and little girls who can talk to birds. But entwined with these are ugly threads that you don’t expect to find in a fairy tale — alcoholism, abuse. If there is any happy ending at all, it is the little girl discovering that the monsters outside are not nearly as evil as ones inside.
This was a vibrant story of love, betrayal, jealousy, seals and puffins and sea otters. Full of beauty, this was a good reminder that no woman should ever be the possession of a man.
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!
One part fairy tale, one part tarot reading, and one part coming out story, this was a haunting little tale, of two magpie girls Jo and Lily, thieving beautiful trinkets, forgotten things, the chance at a life of their own, not dictated by any man…
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!
Whiteoak really has a knack for capturing humanity, and this story — witty, full of humor, and also exceptionally perceptive — puts this knack on full display!
(First published in Asymmetry Fiction, 2018.)
This story is both one final fairy tale that a mother tells her child, of bargains made for wishes fulfilled, and a pretty classic SF story, of genetically engineered soldiers and trans-world travel. I like it when authors play with genres like this, and Scheina’s touching story does so successfully.
Content note: Reference to suicide.
Harding’s funny, moving story takes on the question: How, exactly, do you navigate a long-distance relationship when the two parties live on different planets?
In the case of Sam and Amelia, the answer is: Not very well, as we get to see through a series of letters Amelia sends Sam, exploring the relationships between each other, and between each of them and their home. I am definitely on Amelia’s side, in this, and it’s not just because we only get to hear her side.
Content note: Death of a child.
A quiet, sad, reflective piece, economic with words and yet nevertheless extremely effective in wringing out all the emotions. A great way to kick off this issue.
Content note: Depression and suicidal ideation.
Chokeleaf — or Ficus effusio, to give it its Latin name — is an invasive species, and the Trailblazers are there to do their part in eradicating it. The Trailblazers themselves are a motley group of do-gooders, college drop outs, and know-it-alls, the only thing united them is a desire to help rid the park of this plant, which is threatening not only the local wildlife, but the human visitors as well. Through the eight weeks they spend at the park, we learn about Steph, and her past, the people she’s left behind and the life she would like to get back do. Despite the fantasy elements, there is something that feels very real about this story.