Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 26: January/February 2019

Uncanny Magazine Issue 26: January/February 2019 by Lynne M. Thomas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This issue started off unevenly for me, but I ended up liking most of the stories and non-fiction essays.

A Catalog of Storms (Fran Wilde): A fantasy world in which weather becomes sentient. I failed to gel with the premise or consequences of the world. I think maybe part of it was me being unable to figure out at first if it was supposed to be a SF or fantasy world and whether what was happening was metaphorical or physical.

Poems written while (Natalia Theodoridou): Some sort of dystopian future. Maybe war caused the dystopia or maybe war happened because things got dystopian. None of that is important because Theodoridou has us focused on a group of survivors and their found family. There is so much about daily life that isn’t included in most fiction – like going to the bathroom. But, when we’re in a dystopia, things we take for granted become more important. I remember being shocked (at least partially because I’m a guy) when I read a dystopian short story in which a female-bodied person was relieved to have access to tampons. OF COURSE those would be missed in a world without them, and, of course, most male-bodied writers wouldn’t even think about it. In this story we see (along with all the other emotions and things the author is bringing to the dystopia) how the collapse of society would affect trans folks. Once again, not being part of that community, I’d never thought of those things. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it’s focused on the very mundane, not that society has suddenly become any more violent to trans folks than it currently is.

Nothing to Fear, Nothing to Fear (Senaa Ahmad): one of those science fiction stories that’s almost not about the SF at all; it’s just about in McGuffin territory. Instead it’s about a summer in which siblings start to come into themselves.

The Willows (Delilah S. Dawson): Starts off with a band going off to a country home for some inspiration for their next album. Things go quite strange. I guessed about halfway through what was happening in the story. But I don’t 100% understand the ending.

The Thing, With Feathers (Marissa Lingen): I spent a chunk of the book wondering if this was a secondary world or a magical version of ours. In the end, it seems to be our world in which some magical apocalypse happened. As with the other stories in this issue, it’s besides the point as the story is one about relationships. I liked that it avoided a lot of annoying tropes that often show up when someone in self-exile suddenly finds themselves with company.

Dustdaughter (Inda Lauryn): This story definitely creates a world I’d like to see more stories take place in. Overall it has witchcraft as metaphor for power feared and denied – in this case to women of African American descent.

The Duke of Riverside (Ellen Kushner): this story did not go where I expected it to go at all, but it was still great. Not sure what made it SF or fantasy.

Safe Havens—WFC Awards Ceremony Toastmaster Speech (Linda D. Addison): an observation, by the author, that the speculative fiction spaces tend to be more accepting of diversity than the rest of the world.

How to Make a Paper Crane (Elsa Sjunneson-Henry): this essay tackles a topic I’ve been slowly learning about and am still making mistakes – how people who have (for lack of a better word) disabilities are often infantilized by greater society. That they are praised simply for doing every day things.

The Most Powerful Force (Alec Nevala-Lee): this essay has everything: a history lesson about the early SFF market and Campbell’s contributions, examples of how privilege and success are as much about timing as in-built genius, how the SFF market has changed, and why having such a big gatekeeper was bad for gender and racial diversity in the genre.

What It Feels Like for a Fangirl in the Age of Late Capitalism (Keidra Chaney): a thought-provoking essay about how the power balance has shifted between creators and fans. Yet, at the same time, things can end up exploitative.

Poetry & interviews – no comments here

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