Monday, October 19, 2020

Translunar Travelers Lounge #3 (2020)

Translunar Travelers Lounge, ed. Aimee Ogden & Bennett North. Issue 3 (Aug 2020). Online at

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Translunar Travelers Lounge, edited by Aimee Ogden and Bennett North, is a new arrival on the semipro magazine scene, launching in August 2019 with a focus on fun sci-fi and fantasy. Today I’m reviewing Issue 3, released this August. It certainly lives up to that goal.

The first section, Metis Blend (Yerba-Maté), contains three amusing short takes on SFF elements in a corporate setting. “Acquisition: Earth” by Steven Berger follows an alien employee of a corporation attempting, not so successfully, to incorporate Earth into its assets. “Blue” by Kathleen Brigid involves a universal translator mishap (the author is clearly having some fun with her linguistics background). “The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager” by Marissa Lingen is exactly what it says on the tin, wherein a woman does what we all wish we could to a workplace harasser; needless to say, it doesn’t go exactly as planned. They’re all entertaining and they provide three very different angles on workplace culture. The fourth story of the set, “Quicker to Love a Goat than a Boy” by James Mimmack, stands in contrast to the others; it’s slow and contemplative, following the inhabitants of a pastoral moon as they try to decide whether to leave on a spaceship.

The next section, Luna Blend (Jasmine), gives us the collection’s big breakout story: “The Cat Lady and the Petitioner” by Jennifer Hudak. Although “lady with her talking cats” is fairly well-trodden territory, this one is so well-crafted that I was sucked in immediately. Also included in this section are “More Than Trinkets” by Ramez Yoakiem, which follows the troubled relationship of two young starship crewmembers, “Seven Parts Full” by Anya Ow, a charming story about a culinary duel for an enchanted kitchen knife, and my personal favorite out of the collection, the refreshingly unexpected “5:37” by A.P. Howell, where someone finally takes proper precautionary measures when dealing with a haunted videotape.

Dione Blend (Assam) is my favorite tea, but how do the stories stack up? “Hatchi” by Andrew K. Hoe, where a robot penguin searches the galaxy for its owner, was heartwarming but laid it on a little thick for my taste, especially at the end. I enjoyed “Rockets Launch from Florida” by E.M. Craven, about an alien marooned on Earth; I’m always pleased by stories where humans are generally portrayed as good-natured people willing to help a stranger. And “A Most Professional Demon” by R.J. Howell returns entertainingly to the corporate theme as a young demon applies for a job as a tormenter.

Rounding out the collection we come to Charon Blend (Dark Chocolate Rooibos). It opens with “Weaving in the Bamboo” by Eliza Chan, where a storyteller relives a dreamlike version of her childhood. It’s a rich, complex story that merits a second read. Nicole Tan’s “Beloved and Deserted” is another thoughtful, meditative story, following a fantasy warrior as she searches for a deserting spellcaster. The final story, “Everybody’s Got a Hungry Heart” by Louis Evans, about a seductive secret agent who crosses paths with a mythical muse, was clever, but felt overwritten.

Overall, I enjoyed Translunar Travelers Lounge issue 3 immensely. The stories are high-quality throughout with no major duds, and they cover a pleasingly broad range of topics and styles. I was also happy with the variety of cultures represented (both within the stories and among the authors), as well as the large amount of queer content. It opens with some great laughs and moves on through interesting ideas and deeply contemplative moments. With this quality of material, I hope that Translunar Travelers Lounge will be with us for a long time to come.

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