REVIEW: “The Uncurling of Samsara” by Koji A. Dae

Review of Koji A. Dae, “The Uncurling of Samsara”, Clarkesworld Issue 184, January (2022): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

A lovely story about grief and growth, set in a generation ship. A well structured story about dealing with the loss of a loved one, and how everyone processes grief in different ways.

For our protagonist Annessa, it takes the form of her Gram’s cherry pie, and how their attempt to perfect it has been mostly elusive. But losing her Gram teaches her something. About how the essence of something can take many different forms, but always, always towards growth.

A wrenchingly real portrayal.

REVIEW: “A Series of Endings” by Amal Singh

Review of Amal Singh, “A Series of Endings”, Clarkesworld Issue 183, December (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

If you’re immortal for long enough, you realize that nothing really matters, and certainly doesn’t matter more than the present. Or at least Roopchand Rathore does. And he would know, having had many lives – maybe with different endings but always the same hazy sort of beginning.

A story where spaceships and aliens, backwater boat races and Ghalib, all feel right at home.

REVIEW: “The Knells of Agassiz” by Holly Schofield

Review of Holly Schofield, “The Knells of Agassiz,” Luna Station Quarterly 53 (2023): Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I love it when a story gives me cause to pause and look something up to see if it’s real or not. In this case, it was the Agassiz Ice Cap, and it’s real — but for who knows how long. Climate change and the quickly disappearing ice cap form the basis for Schofield’s story, in which Emma returns to the ice cap one last time to say good-bye. It could so easily be a sad and depressing story, but it is not: It has the tinge of realistic hope that all good climate SF should have.

REVIEW: “Surgical Strike” by Louis Evans

Review of Louis Evans, “Surgical Strike,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 20-28 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Content note: Sexually explicit material.

This story was prefaced by one of the most intriguing content notes that I’ve ever come across. [It does not highlight the same issue I have highlighted in my content note.] It identifies the key piece of fantasy that the story relies on, and explicitly says that such a fantasy should not be engaged with. The paradox is that we cannot help but engage with the fantasy while we are reading it.

There are some stories that I come away from reading thinking, “of all the stories that could have been told, why this one?” I was worried that I would have the same reaction here: Given the problematic fantasy upon which it is premised, why tell this story, instead of the innumerable other stories that could be told instead?

Sadly, I think I was right to be worried. By the time I reached the end, all I could think of was the other stories I could have read instead. There was a lack of finesse that made the entire story feel a bit clumsy; and definitely not for me.

REVIEW: “When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones” by Avra Margariti

Review of Avra Margariti, “When I’m Thirty I Receive a Box Full of Your Steel Bones,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 54 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The title is itself almost a flash fic story, and it sets up a lot of pressure on the rest of the poem to rise to the occasion. We don’t find out who “you” is until the end of the first stanza, and the reveal makes sense of the title. I almost think the poem would’ve been stronger ending there; the second stanza felt a little unnecessary, to me.

(First published in Asimov’s Science Fiction

REVIEW: “Under the Satin Gunmetal Sky” by Shawn Goodman

Review of Shawn Goodman, “Under the Satin Gunmetal Sky,” Radon Journal 3 (January 2023): 40-45 — Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Schneider is a detective on the case of a double murder with a twist — two synths who’ve had their arms removed. (Another twist: he’s a synth himself.) Apparently, the best way to solve a complicated case, if you’re a synth detective, is to get high and fight it out at a fight club.

At least, that’s what I got out of Goodman’s story, and all I got. It was one of those weird stories where it feels like it all hangs together while you read it, but at the end you realise none of it made any sense.