REVIEW: “Beech, Please” by Maria Paige Brekke

Review of Maria Paige Brekke, “Beech, Please,” Luna Station Quarterly 52 (2022): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

After a decade of running a body-carving shop for dryads (basically the tree equivalent of tattoos), Rhiannon comes to realise that she’s become…normal. ordinary. part of the establishment. the “safe” option. Better that than burning childish designs into their bark like her competitor Eric, or so she tells herself. Anything is better than leaving her customers to Eric’s services. So of course, we the readers are not surprised at all when Rhiannon and Eric get thrown into a fix that they can only solve together.

This story wins the “best title” award for this (tree-themed) issue of LSQ, so of course I had to start with it. I’m delighted to say the story itself lived up to the promise of its title — snappy, full of humor, putting a smile on my face in every paragraph.

REVIEW: “Mnemotechnic” by Fiona Moore

Review of Fiona Moore, “Mnemotechnic,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 56-75 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love a story where the main character is described as having used to be a computer, and I genuinely cannot tell for the first page whether the word is meant in hardware or the human sense! The initial scenes leave it genuinely open to going either way. Of course, in a story as long as this one, the matter does get settled, but by the time it is, I’m already hooked enough that I don’t care which way it goes.

I was reminded of another story recently reviewed,

REVIEW: “All Legacy Hardware” by Owen McManus

Review of Owen McManus, “All Legacy Hardware,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 7-21 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Kara Liu is just weeks away from the Olympic 10k qualifying meet when a terrible accident severs her spinal cord. The story opens on her three weeks post injury, still in the throes of recovery, reconstruction, and rebuilding of her future. The quality and precision of the scientific detail in this story is such that it made me — not a doctor! — wonder how much of it was fiction and how much already reality. I loved it. (I also really, really loved Dr. Dawson, who doesn’t know how to talk to people, who finds her research vividly exciting, and who appreciates the importance of getting a PhD thesis or two out of a new project.) This is McManus’s first published story, and all credit to him: I hope he writes lots more like this.

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: “To the Singers of Madrigals” by Don Mark Baldridge

Review of Don Mark Baldridge, “To the Singers of Madrigals,” Cossmass Infinities 8 (2022): 25-36 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I found this story a bit humdrum, a generic SF spaceship setting on a generic, everlasting journey, all narrated in my least favorite POV (2nd). Without anything distinctive — the only character an unnamed ‘she’ — it was hard for me to become invested.