Monday, January 25, 2021

Whiteley, Skyward Inn (2021)

Aliya Whiteley, Skyward Inn. Solaris, 2021. Pp. 255. ISBN 978-1-78108-882-1. $24.99/£13.19.

Reviewed by Don Riggs

Reading Skyward Inn now gives me a sense of how it must have felt in the 1960s to read the Nouveaux Romans of Michel Butor, Robbe-Grillet and Marguerite Duras: no intrusive narrator framing the dialogue and events of the fictional world, a radical reduction to just what was happening, or just what was going through the principal character’s mind. In science fiction terms, this means no infodump, no appendixes outlining the background, no maps, no glossary. All we have is Jem, short for Jemima; Isley, who it turns out is from the planet Qita; Jem’s son Fosse; and the people in the Skyward Inn, which is somewhere in the Western Protectorate. This last seems to be separate from… well, the rest of the world, I think, and is not far from the Kissing Gate, which I take to be a portal through which spaceships can travel to the planet Qita.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Three-Lobed Burning Eye #32 (2020)

Three-Lobed Burning Eye, ed. Andrew S. Fuller. issue #32 (November 2020). Online at

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

I was first attracted to the newest issue of Three-Lobed Burning Eye because of the story “A Consensus Told in Chromatophores” by Andi C. Buchanan, a story about a democratic civilization of cuttlefish, and if you’re surprised I’m interested in a democratic cuttlefish story, you don’t know me very well. It’s not only a fantastically creative story, it’s also a beautifully moving meditation on the meaning of democracy. For me, that’s a perfect combination.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Hexagon #3 (Winter 2020)

Hexagon, ed. J.W. Stebner. Issue 3 (winter 2020). Online at

Reviewed by Jason Kahler

In his opening letter for Hexagon issue #3, editor J.W. Stebner claims that his magazine is un-themed, but the five stories he’s collected for this installment each tell a tale of love and heartbreak. Stebner says his selections tend to coincide with the rhythm of the season. Maybe, as the difficult year 2020 winds down, we just all find some comfort in thinking that someone, somewhere, might have more emotional pain than us. The stories contained in the issue are sometimes clever, sometimes haunting, always pointing to the powerful perseverance of the human heart.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Kewin, Eye Collectors (2020)

Simon Kewin, The Eye Collectors (a story of her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General, protecting the public from the unnatural since 1645). Elsewhen Press, 2020. Pp. 288. ISBN 978-1-91140-964-9. £10.00 pb/£2.99 e.

Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

The “Magic Police” is a firmly-established sub-genre by now, but Danesh Shazan of Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General is an interesting addition to their ranks. Most people think that the “office” is a historical anomaly, “a ridiculous piece of quasi-mediaeval pagentry, like so much of the British governmental and judicial systems,” but in fact it exists to protect the public from unutterable and eldritch powers from Beyond. Danesh, a recently-recruited Acolyte in the Welsh branch of the office, headed by the terrifying Campbell Hardknott-Lewis, works with mundane cops on cases which have a flavour of the supernatural about them. And when he’s called in by D.I. Nikola Zubrasky to investigate a murder in Cardiff, this “flavour” is worth at least three Michelin Stars.