An excellent story with the feel of a classic fairy tale.
This is a story of a woman who is lost inside herself, lost inside the trapping of being a woman, being a mother, being “a support, a failsafe, for her family.” She doesn’t have time for friends, for hobbies, for anything more than a linear life of one thing after another. But there’s more to Ren’s life than that, and we the readers are given intermittent glimpses, as the unfamiliar breaks through the routine, as the fantastical interferes with the normal, as Ren herself tries to reconstruct the memories she once lost. It’s an eerie, unsettling story, smashingly done.
I love a short story that can convince me it has an entire world built behind it in the very first sentence, and this story is one of those. A pure joy to read, from start to finish.
College student Ann — disowned by her family, with no friends or connections, no one to miss her — goes off into the woods one night, intending to disappearing. Instead, she meets Percy, who is trying to pull down the moon, and all in the name of true love.
This was an absolutely adorable and delightful love story and I really enjoyed it!
Content note: death of parent, stillbirth.
Living amongst the effects of climate change is something so close to our present lives that it seems more like ordinary fiction rather than science fiction; living at a time when people can escape the rising seas by jetting off to Mars, however, feels still like a distant dream. And yet, stories like Whiteoak’s make it clear how quickly these two lives are converging. I found “Mars Ascending” poignant and touching and it felt very, very real. (And Whiteoak nailed the ending.) Well done!
Adrian’s life has always been lived at the margins, “where all of the excitement, beauty, and magic were.” At the start, I was excited to read more about that life, especially the summers he spends with his father the circus-worker, but we got so much history at the beginning, and not enough story, that I lost interest. I kept reading, though, and was rewarded by a sharp, sudden crossing of a margin about half-way through (a transition point that I wish had come much earlier). What came after was still somewhat plodding at times, but was overall intriguing.
Every full moon the circus comes to Elsie’s town, but none of the townspeople ever go; only strangers visit the circus. Until one month, when Elsie wakes up to a sign that marks her out as the first of her village to be called to the circus. “Everyone comes to the circus to find something they’ve been missing,” the Ringmaster tells her when she arrives, but Elsie visits all the stalls and sees all the performances and none of them are what she is looking for. Instead, her missing piece is something entirely different — something that made me really really happy when she finally found it. This was a quiet story overall, but rather deftly done.
Camille has dreamed of going to the stars ever since third grade, and while a chance to cover the Strato Circus’s show in honor of the comet Stephan-Oterma isn’t quite the same thing, it’s still closer than anything else she’s achieved — but the assignment isn’t without its dangers, or its costs.
For being set in the future, there was a delightfully steam-punk feel to this story. It was also exceptionally realistic; every step of Camille’s journey into the stratosphere felt believable and relatable. This was a seriously gripping story which I really enjoyed.
Skyla’s life is ordinary, mundane, and miserable — husband, two children, no more job once she had her children, doing all the parenting while her husband loafs amongst the crab pots. “Weekends always made her feel like a failure,” we are told, and it that sentence I, and I am sure many other readers will see themselves reflected. The most exciting thing in her life is the gift of a new bikini, and even that comes with demands. There’s no way she could wear it without at least getting waxed. “If her family would just leave her alone she could get everything done without falling behind” — another line that will hit close to home for many mothers.
It’s a cliche to say “everything changes when” but everything does change for Skyla when Gwyn, the optometrist’s office manager, invites Skyla and her sons to an anti-circus protest — after all, mermaids weren’t meant for captivity.