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.

REVIEW: “You Are Born Exploding” by Rich Larson

Review of Rich Larson, “You Are Born Exploding”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Set in an indeterminate time in the future, this story focuses on the dichotomy of the life of the narrator versus the general public. She is rich and can afford security and expensive inoculations. Much of the general population cannot, and some become Shamblers.

She is intrigued by them, especially the ones who voluntarily become Shamblers, and leave the land to dive into the sea. Nobody knows where they go, but she is disillusioned with her existing life and doesn’t seem to mind the unknown. Especially since her life on land isn’t shaping up to be too great.

I loved the beautiful prose, and the pacing. It is a novelette, so a bit longer than your usual short story, but it never drags and is absolutely worth the read. The world-building and hints of how the world functions has so much depth that I’m sure the author has even more detail in his notes than we see in the story. The character development is strong, and the emotional resonance is powerful and heartbreaking. One of my favorite stories of the year!

REVIEW: “Vegvísir” by David Goodman

Review of David Goodman, “Vegvísir”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

This story is set on a Mars that has been inhabited for generations now. There are very few Earthborn left – many of the humans here are locals, born and raised on Mars. An interesting concept to begin with, and this is just the background!

Loved the prose here. The author does a great job of creating atmosphere, be it the wilds and winds of Mars, or of the Iceland of Gunnar’s family history. A place his grandmother was from. She may have migrated to Mars, but she still loves her skyr and her mythology. Many of the inhabitants, like Gunnar, can trace their origin to Iceland. And with people and their personalities, there also comes a bit of history, story, and old magic.

REVIEW: “Beneath the Earth Where the Nymphs Sleep” by Meghan Feldman

Review of Meghan Feldman, “Beneath the Earth Where the Nymphs Sleep”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Rana is just trying to stay safe, running away from EdiTech and her own demons. But she cannot run too far from either of those things, as they’re embedded deeply within her psyche – both EdiTech and her personal feelings intertwined with and coming back to her sister and what she had to face.

Rana is strong but doesn’t know which way to turn, and it seems like she might be one of those people who “have greatness thrust upon them” – but also power in this case. However, when it really comes down to it, it’s her choice to make. Just as mercy and strength were her own choices to make, even when she could easily have been a less moral person. And that makes all the difference.

REVIEW: “Sombra” by Julio Angel Ortiz

Review of Julio Angel Ortiz, “Sombra,” Cossmass Infinities 7 (2022): 58-81 — Purchase online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Modern-day slavery and human trafficking; nonconsensual prostitution.

One part good time-travel story, another part pointed social commentary on the early 21st century, “Sombra” more than rewarded the effort of getting through its length, absolutely nailing its gut-wrenching ending.

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.