Review for When We Were Starless by SIMONE HELLER, 13204 words, ~29 p., ★★★★☆
“When we set out to weave a new world from the old, broken one, we knew we pledged the lives of our clutches and our clutches’ clutches to wandering the wastes.“
Bipedal lizards living in a post-apocalyptic, lost world. A possibly human race has left behind remnants of their technology. Nomadic tribes just barely manage to survive in a bleak, dangerous and hopeless world. A meeting and forbidden aquaintance changes the world.
Not easy to get into, as the world is only explained in brief strokes and the aliens are, well, alien. A story about hope and about wanting more than the status quo and mere subsistence.
I liked it, I think—I am still mulling it over. The ending and last paragraph was a bit too abrupt and brief for my taste.
2019 FINALIST: THEODORE A. STURGEON MEMORIAL AWARD, 2019 FINALIST: HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVELETTE, 2019 FINALIST: EUGIE FOSTER MEMORIAL AWARD
Review for SEEING, GENEVIEVE VALENTINE, ~12 p., ★★★★★ After it was over, they pulled her from the sea.
I was very confused at first. Something pre-apocalyptic? Maye a dystopia? I felt the urge to go and study astrophysics, to understand what was going on. It took a moment, but I ended up really liking this. Not an easy story.
I think this is a story you need to read twice to make sense of it. Layers upon layers. In retrospect, skimming the story a second time, I am upgrading this to 5 stars. A lot going on for a mere 12 pages!
THE SYMPHONY OF ICE AND DUST, JULIE NOVAKOVA, ~18 p., ★★★☆☆
It’s going to be the greatest symphony anyone has ever composed,” said Jurriaan.
A story within a story. Exploration and discovery at the edge of our solar system. It was ok. I learning something about Neptune and trans-Neptunian objects.
The narration framing the actual story was not very satisfying. The character set-up and the symphony idea sounded interesting, but were so perfunctory, they were barely more than a plot bunny. I liked the story at the core of this.
Nerds-R-Us: I think it hasn‘t been determined yet, if Sedna is in fact a dwarf planet. And if you were wondering, MITEE stands for Miniature Reactor Engine.
I decided to try out a subscription of this magazine, to give them a little support and say thank you for all the free stories they publish—not that many of this particular magazine, actually. But I wanted to give it a try. And I might switch to other online magazines and give them a shot, too. Maybe a little project for 2019?
Anyway, updates of each story will follow, as I read them:
Marshmallows by D.A. XIAOLIN SPIRES, 3430 words, ★★★☆☆ A world that has gotten so gruesome and dilapidated that people on their daily commute use visual and auditory enhancements to see a more appealing world. I did not like the storytelling much per se, but the idea was interesting enough.
“I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California.
Another AI story. Can she look for a flat for me? Frankenstein is an AI… Interesting.
“Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty’s Place Cafe” by Naomi Kritzer
“I ran out of gas in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, just two hundred miles short of Pierre, my goal. Pierre, South Dakota, I mean, I wasn’t trying to get to someone named Pierre. I was trying to get to my parents, and Pierre was where they lived. I thought maybe, given that the world was probably ending in the next twenty-four hours, they’d want to talk to me.“
End of the World. Nothing else needed to make me read this. Nice. Relationships, family, should you fulfill the usual expectations, just because it‘s the done thing?