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8.2/10
Sinkholes by Vaya Pseftaki
fantasy , novelette , Review / October 2, 2017

Vaya Psepftaki’s Sinkholes is published in The Colored Lens Magazine, issue:  Autumn 2017 It is a novelette about lost love, uncovering a coup, questioning gender identity, xenophobia, and people throwing themselves in holes only to be replaced by peculiar creatures. Wait, what? Yeap, when human beings lay their eyes on one of these gates they will immediately jump inside and when they do multiple creatures are spawned taking their place. Lord of Dead Ends and Sponge the Bright are two of these spawns. They work in the building guarding the last hole. Until they see the spawns’ mob leader using the hole for her own secret plan. That’s when they are invited by their old friends and lovers Ally and Lucy the lamp to join their forces and protect the city’s future. However, their shared past wakes up Ally’s oppressed feelings and questions about her lover who threw himself in the hole and in consequence the aforementioned creatures be spitted out in her world. It’s not an easy task for Vaya Pseftaki to handle the complicated relationship of two lovers when the first one wishes the second to change; gender identity being one their main issue . But wishes can…

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8.2/10
“Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El–Mohtar
fantasy , Review , short stories / August 16, 2017

“Seasons of Glass and Iron” is the HUGO 2017 winner for best short story and was published on Uncanny Magazine Issue 13: November/December 2016 and originally published in The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales. Summary: Tabitha has to wear seven pairs of painful iron magical shoes in a row until they wear out. In her journey she meets Amira: A princess that has placed herself on the top of a glass hill.  Analysis: Two fairy-tales collide into one so to find solace to each other. A story that is allegorical about patriarchic societies and women facing oppressive men and rules set by men. These two women feel that it’s only natural to endure these ordeals until each gets to know the other’s and understand that they don’t deserve it. The only way to go forward and remove their bonds is by solidarity and love. Also the numbers which are used as magical are one and seven. There can be multiple meanings behind these numbers such as their biblical meaning which are unity (1) and completeness (7). The writing is in a ways lyrical which is to be expected due to Amal El-Mohtar’s previous work. Most of the story seems to…

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8/10
“If a Bird Can Be a Ghost” by Allison Mills
fantasy , Review , short stories / August 5, 2017

“If a Bird Can Be a Ghost” was published on on Aug 1, 2017 , Apex Magazine Issue 99. Summary: Allison Mills writes about a family of ghost busters. But they are not like in the movies. It’s only a grandma, with her daughter and her grand-daughter who is full of questions. They visit houses and help other people to exorcise ghosts that are haunting them. Also birds can be ghosts as well. Analysis: This short story is about grief and letting go. It has interesting themes such as: passing a skill from a generation to another. discovery of oneself and growing up how to treat ghosts face death of a close family member We follow the grand-daughter’s point of view as she grows up around ghosts. Another interesting idea is that you can catch a ghost on your hair!

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7.7/10
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong
fantasy , sci-fi , short stories / July 30, 2017

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong was published on March 2, 2016 by Tor.com and is nominated for the Hugo 2017 award. Summary: Hannah, the one of the two witch sisters that can control weather and bend time, tries to change the outcome of her sister’s suicidal attempt by creating alternate timelines. Analysis: The two main subjects discussed in this story is transgenderism and grief. Alyssa Wong writes about a transgender woman that was never accepted by her parents. The only thing that Melanie has is her sister but after a while she decides to end her life. However, Hannah cannot give up on her and creates new timelines where tries to save her (even sometimes by sacrificing herself)  fruitlessly. In these new timelines we learn more about their relationship and their abusive parents. Although these timelines provoke a lot of strong emotions they feel at some points repetitive and make the readers raise some questions by themselves on how this could be avoided.  

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8/10
The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
fantasy , novelette , Review / July 8, 2017

We reviewed “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon published in Apex Magazine as it is  a HUGO nominee for best novelette. Its success is that it manages to captivate the reader from the beginning despite its simple premise. In a magical world that reminds us in some aspects our world we see one old lady who is feared and respected. She puts all her affection on growing her own tomatoes until she sees one by one disappear every night. That’s when the mystery starts as we enter in a world of magical beings. This story continues after a few years after the Ursula Vernon’s first story. If the reader hasn’t read the first story may be confused about the world setting. Since we see both the names of real world cities, but magical entities as well. Therefore, we don’t know exactly what is the backstory and may not catch at the beginning the old lady’s true nature. In any case it can be enjoyed and still catch some laughs with some of her encounters. This story can be also shared with children since it doesn’t have any explicit content. However, we should mention that in some parts it would be…

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8.3/10
That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
fantasy , podcasts , short stories / June 25, 2017

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn originally appeared on Tor.com in March 2016. It is narrated by Amy H. Sturgis in EscapePod ‘s podcast EP581 22nd June of 2017 Summary: Calla of Enith, a nurse, has feelings of affection for the Gaantish prisoner, officer Valk. Officer Valk with the power of telepathy (a common characteristic for Gaantish people) wants to learn to play chess while she becomes his prisoner. Analysis: The idea of a chess player having the power of telepathy adds an interesting and challenging note to chess. Admiringly, it is followed through successfully, reminding me how the big chess masters won the AI. (Although as a chess player I know random moves are not usually lead to a winning position) In addition with the war set as a background makes it a story that satisfies the reader. Also I never expected that telepathy can be a bad thing in the war, which as I see in prisoners camps it must be. Pros: the characters are very well depicted more than one ideas are described around telepathy very good flow that leads to a sort of climax Cons: maybe a slow start?