REVIEW: “Ghosts of Bari” by Wren Wallis

Review of Wren Wallis, “Ghosts of Bari”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 114-124 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Empires rise and empires falls, but against this grand backdrop, “salvage is the only long-term game in the universe” (p. 114). Eli, Mati, and Kin are a team of salvagers who work in the Bari region of the universe — a place that few other salvagers go — harvesting whatever they can from the ghost ships that float through there. They’re well-trained, they’re well-informed, they are good at what they do. But no amount of knowledge or experience can prepare the crew for a ship so old it doesn’t turn up in any of the Oracle’s databases. Not only that — this ship isn’t dead.

The story ultimately circles back to where it starts: The rise and fall of empires, how empires can be remembered and memorialised. There is a sharp pathos to this story that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

REVIEW: “The Time Traveler’s Husband” by A. C. Wise

Review of A. C. Wise, “The Time Traveler’s Husband”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 61-68 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Regarding the title, it’s nice to see the man identified purely by his relationship to someone else, for once! (And while it isn’t immediate from the title, that “someone else” is herself a woman.)

But if you came to this story from its title hoping for time-travel, you might end up being disappointed — it really truly is the story of her husband, the story of the one who is left behind and who has to make a life living each moment in time successively. We never know his name, but we learn intimate details of his life, his relationship with his wife, and also his relationship with his father. The time traveling isn’t incidental, but it is definitely the backdrop for the telling of the relationships, not the story itself.

It was a beautifully sad story, and also a beautiful story. Midway through, it felt like it could continue in the vein it opened in without any resolution, but then it looped back on itself coming around full circle. I found the ending satisfying.

REVIEW: “Tyrannocora Regina” by Leonie Skye

Review of Leonie Skye, “Tyrannocora Regina”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 71-83 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

If you’re looking for time-traveling lesbian dinosaurs who do roller derby, have I got a story for you…

That collection of words almost feels like the result of a challenge, like the author pulled them out of a hat and then had to write a story about them. Whether or not that’s the case, the resulting story was moderately successful. Time travel narratives are always difficult, and I had to reread the beginning parts a few times before I figured out how to make sense of them, but the threads came together in the end.

REVIEW: “Rust and Bone” by Mary Robinette Kowal

Review of Mary Robinette Kowal, “Rust and Bone”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 86-92 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This is a harsh story of a child caught between two adults — one grandmother, one mother — each of whom thinks (or at least claims) they have the child’s best interests at heart.

For anyone who has been caught in a family feud, or who has watched friends be caught in such a feud, this is not a pleasant story. Even if you have not witnessed first hand this sort of situation, the story leaves you with a deep uncertainty and ambivalence about the outcome: Is this the outcome we should’ve been rooting for? More importantly, is it the one that is best for the child? It just isn’t clear, and for some (I’m one of them) that makes it an unsatisfying story. Others may thrive on the ambivalence, and enjoy it more.

REVIEW: “Lake Mouth” by Casey Hannan

Review of Casey Hannan, “Lake Mouth”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 37-41 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

This was such a bizarre story. Every single statement is clear and precise, but combined together the result is like a weird fever dream. What is strangest about it is the way that every single statement is said as if it is true and ordinary, with no recognition at all of the strangeness of the amalgamation. Reading it was a fascinating experience.

Equally fascinating was reading the author’s interview at the end, which laid a solid foundation beneath the story and made it that much more believable, weirdness and all.

REVIEW: “Streuobstwiese” by Steve Toase

Review of Steve Toase, “Streuobstwiese”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 27-33 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

The jerky cadences of this story gave me little snapshots of the world in which it is set, but never quite enough for me to feel like I knew what was going on. While I like writing slice-of-life/vignette fiction, I’m never entirely convinced how well it works as a story-telling technique, and in this case, I don’t think it quite worked for me.

When I finished the story, I went to translate the title — I recognised it as German, and recognised part of the compound, but did not know the sense of the whole thing. Unfortunately, the translation I got — “Orchard” — did not help shed any light on what, exactly, was going on.

REVIEW: “Rotkäppchen” by Emily McCosh

Review of Emily McCosh, “Rotkäppchen”, Shimmer 46 (2018): 7-18 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

I enjoy fairy tale retellings that give me something new. At first, I thought this was a retelling from the point of view of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother; but then some ways in it became clear that in “Rotkäppchen”, McCosh is telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood grown up, and now a grandmother herself, living alone in the forest. Her son is dead and her granddaughter, Fern, lives on the edge of the woods.

When Fern comes to visit her grandmother, there is a sense of the story cycle repeating itself, for Fern, too, finds a wolf in her grandmother’s cottage. But there is always so much more to a story than what you are first told, and this story is as much the wolf’s as it is Little Red Riding Hood’s.