REVIEW: “The Summer Mask” by Karin Lowachee

Review of Karin Lowachee, “The Summer Mask”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 47-60 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This was a beautiful, tender story written with a delicate sense of trauma and recovery, and a level of archaity (is that a word? or is it ‘archaicity’? Or neither — what I mean is “that which makes something feel archaic”). You can certainly read it as a horror story, as I think it was originally intended to be, but to me it had no more horror in it than you find embedded in every love story ever.

(Originally published in Nightmare Magazine, no. 62, 2017.)

REVIEW: “Pan and Hook” by Adam McOmber

Review of Adam McOmber, “Pan and Hook”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 41-45 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This short little story mixes old myths with modern ones, and gives a twist to both. I loved the idea of re-envisioning Pan as the god of non-toxic masculinity; he is the perfect choice for that. So perfect, I wished he could’ve gotten a happy story instead of the sad one this was.

(Originally published in Vestiges:Mimesis, Winter 2017.)

REVIEW: “Some Kind of Wonderland” by Richard Bowes

Review of Richard Bowes, “Some Kind of Wonderland”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 23-40 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

“Some Kind of Wonderland” is the story of a 50th anniversary rescreening of an Alice in Wonderland movie filmed in the desolate spaces of New York City.

I’ve never liked Alice in Wonderland. As a child watching the movie, I always felt like I was missing something because there was no story, just disconnected scenes, and it was so frustrating. When I was older, I tried reading the book, and couldn’t stand it; I don’t think I’ve ever succeeded in finishing an unabridged version of it. It always seemed like there could have — should have — been so much more to the story than there actually was.

Bowes’ story recounts the scenes in the movie one by one, spliced with the reactions of the audience and with memories of the filming fifty years earlier. It’s hard to describe a film in words; yet Bowes describes it so carefully and so beautiful you’d think the movie he writes about was real. I wish it were real: I want to see it.

One thing that struck me about this story was how minimal the speculative content was; in fact, it’s difficult to pick out any detail that is clearly speculative. But another thing that struck me was that I didn’t even realise this lack until almost all the way through the story, it was that good, and that gripping. Two thumbs up. Even if I’m not sure why it’s in this particular anthology, I’m glad it was because otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve ever come across it and read it.

(Originally published in Mad Hatters and March Hares, Tor Books, 2017.)

REVIEW: “Serving Fish” by Christopher Caldwell

Review of Christopher Caldwell, “Serving Fish”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 7-22 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This story I loved, this wonderful retelling of an unlikely choice of fairy tale, littered with lines that made me snort with laughter. More fairy tale retellings like this one, please!

I also enjoyed reading it for the perspective that it gave me through its drag queen main character. Reading Eric’s growth and development into Mahogany Eternique I found interesting and also useful. Authors who write these stories have no obligation to educate people — they are not beholden to people like me to do so. But I am beholden to them for the education I get from reading them; and that’s something that I appreciate not only about this story but about this anthology as a whole: reading it stretches me and makes me grow, and I value that.

(Originally published in People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Positronic Publishing, 2017).

REVIEW: “Ghost Sex” by Joseph Keckler

Review of Joseph Keckler, “Ghost Sex”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 1-5 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Part horror, part humor, this story was very short and a bit odd. It seemed only incidentally gay, but I’m also not sure that I’m the sort of person who should be the one to make that sort of comment. Though it wasn’t really the story for me, it was neatly written and competently done, and I’ve no doubt that it’s the story for someone else!

(First published in Dragon At the Edge of a Flat World, Turtle Point Press, 2017).

REVIEW: Wilde Stories 2018 edited by Steve Berman

Review of Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, (Lethe Press, 2018) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Last year, I reviewed the 2017 edition of this anthology (read the review) with a bit of trepidation, as it’s not exactly my place as a het woman to be offering my opinions on gay male fic. But I loved so many of the stories in that anthology so much that when pre-orders for the 2018 volume went up, I immediately signed up.

With the same caveats as last year in place, I decided to review this volume as well, and it did not disappoint. The breadth of stories is amazing, which means that there were a few that didn’t tick my buttons, but that’s okay — many, many more did, and I am sure that other readers will find the stories that didn’t speak to me do speak to them. Overall, what struck me about the stories in last year’s anthology struck me about these as well: And that is how beautiful they were. Beautiful stories, told in beautiful words. These are like a pile of precious gems, to be treasured and kept close. I’m only sorry that Berman has announced that this will be the final year that he edits these anthologies; though perhaps this means next year I’ll have to start working through the back catalogue.

As usual, I’ll review each story separately, and link them back here when the review is posted:

(I also adore the cover, which is just gorgeous. Many kudos to Inkspiral Design, who designed it.)