Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Piper, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy (2021)

Hailey Piper, Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy. The Seventh Terrace, 2021. Pp. 253. ISBN 978-1-9900-8201-6. $14.99 pb/$4.99 e.

Reviewed by Gwen C. Katz

Am I the only one who’s gotten really into horror during the pandemic? Maybe going through our own gnarly experience has made me empathize with fictional gnarly experiences more; maybe watching someone get chainsawed apart just puts my life into perspective. Whatever the reason, I’m absolutely inhaling horror right now. But more than any other genre, horror absolutely must have resonant themes for me to enjoy it. A fantasy story that’s kinda parochial and regressive? I can deal. (I, too, read Lord of the Rings.) But if it’s a horror story? I’m out.

Enter Hailey Piper and her new collection Unfortunate Elements of My Anatomy. Smart, feminist, and chock-full of queer themes (especially trans themes), it’s just the thing if the past year has pushed you into “screw it” territory.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Addison, The Angel of the Crows (2020)

Katherine Addison, The Angel of the Crows. Tor Books, 2020. Pp. 448. ISBN 978-0-7653-8739-4. $24.99.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

The Angel of the Crows is the sort of high concept story which should be ridiculous and yet totally works: Sherlock Holmes meets “war in Heaven,” or rather, its aftermath. Nineteenth century Afghanistan remains Afghanistan, but now with fallen angels and hellhounds. (The BBC Sherlock, another recent albeit problematic retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eponymous detective stories, similarly played with a background conflict in Afghanistan that was specifically twenty-first century.) Addison’s novel isn’t a straightforward retelling of Sherlock or Doyle, but nonetheless riffs cleverly on familiar plot beats to tell a story at a slant. Sherlock is an angel called Crow and Watson is called Doyle; neither of them are the characters that we already know so well, except for how they are.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Künsken, The House of Styx (2021)

Derek Künsken, The House of Styx (Venus Ascendant book #1). Rebellion Publishing, 2021. Pp. 608. ISBN 978-1-78108-805-0. $27.99.

Reviewed by Lisa Timpf

Set in 2255 C.E., The House of Styx provides an intriguing view of what a human colony on—or rather, above—Venus might look like a couple of centuries into the future. The novel, slated to be the first in the Venus Ascendant series, is set 250 years before Künsken’s The Quantum Magician. The House of Styx revolves around the D’Aquillon family. George-Étienne D’Aquillon, his sons Jean-Eudes and Pascal, and his grandson Alexis live on the Causapscal des Profondeurs, a habitat fashioned, as are many of the living places in Venus’s clouds, within one of the Venusian cloud-dwelling plants called trawlers.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Little Blue Marble (Jan–Apr 2021)

Little Blue Marble, ed. Katrina Archer. Fiction from 2021 (Jan–Apr). Online at littlebluemarble.ca.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

Little Blue Marble is both a free, online magazine of news, opinion, fiction and poetry related to climate change and other environmental issues, and an annual print anthology of climate fiction. Published and self-funded by Canadian editor Katrina Archer, the web version is glossy and professionally designed, and apart from a small glitch in the responsive template that causes story illustration to suddenly pop up and hide text when scrolling down the page, it is pleasant and easy to navigate. Fiction is published sporadically throughout the year, and it’s not clear to me whether the end-of-year anthology will contain all or just a selection of the fiction, so this review will address just the fiction and poetry published between January and April of 2021. There is a nice mix in here, some (as might be expected in a venue that prioritizes activism, not literature) a little heavy-handed, but most enjoyable and some very high quality indeed.