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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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8/10
Rocket Surgery by Effie Seiberg
podcasts , Review , sci-fi , short stories / September 5, 2017

Short story “Rocket Surgery” by Effie Seiberg was originally published in n Analog, 2016. Its audio edition can be found now on Escape Pod’s episode 588 on the 10th of August 2017. Summary: A military team trains an A.I. rocket how to eliminate the enemy by choosing the best path through a series of simulations. But something goes wrong and the narrator ends up in prison. Analysis: The narrator is a member of the military team, now locked up in prison. The reader wants to know why the narrator is in prison and what happened to the A.I.. The names of either the country of the dictator or the names of the rockets add an extra quirkiness to the story. This fact helped us understand that this story is more about the interaction of the A.I. with its teacher than about the hardware / software mechanics behind the A.I. The plot is revealed slowly by showing how the AI is trained until it has an existential crisis. The story uses also a repetitive set of questions and answers which are used for the final spin successfully.

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8/10
“The Shadow Over His Mouth” by Aidan Doyle
horror , Review , short stories / August 29, 2017

“The Shadow Over His Mouth” by Aidan Doyle is published in Diabolical Plots Fiction Issue 29B on 17th of July 2017 Synopsis: Barry Lovecraft, a food blogger, visits Eastern Europe and writes his critiques online for the Dracula castle and sea food restaurants or hotels he tries out. People start disappearing and he finds himself in a pickle. Analysis: A mix of Dracula and Cthulhu mythos with a dash of comedy. The blogger could have been a real blogger – oblivious to what’s happening around him. It’s always fun to see how reality can be disturbed by horrific elements that the character doesn’t acknowledge. It can be seen also as a criticism on the current trend of our use of social networks and blogging, specially when we are too focused to get a photograph of our soon to be gone meal. There are enough points and puns in the story that can cause laughs or smirks.

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8.3/10
“Barrette Girls” by Sara Saab
horror , Review , sci-fi , short stories / August 17, 2017

The short story “Barrette Girls” by Sara Saab was published on the 3rd issue of liminal stories on spring / summer 2017. Synopsis: In “Barrette Girls”, Sunday with the help of Andrew guides a group of girls to a secret destination. Andrew has second thoughts about what they are doing while Sunday is remembering her past relationships. Analysis: Sara Saab reveals gradually the nature of the characters’ lives. We enter a future world which would be described as a utopia by the oblivious observer. But what happens behind the curtains of this world paints a grim picture of our future civilization. How long will the staff reason with their consciousness? Sunday learns to get used to it. As people are used to it nowadays but that doesn’t mean that the process wouldn’t have an impact in an unconscious psychological level. Or in a level that we don’t want to acknowledge and maybe see only in our nightmares.  That’s how the author tricks us and take us by the hand as Sunday takes the girls by their hand and we can only be suspicious of what’s going on until it’s too late.  A sense of unfamiliarity and uneasiness underlines the story…

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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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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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8.2/10
The Heart’s Cartography by Susan Jane Bigelow
podcasts , Review , sci-fi , short stories / May 30, 2017

A review for “The Heart’s Cartography by Susan Jane Bigelow”, which is  published in Lightspeed’s magazine May 2017 (Issue 84) Summary: A girl in a boy’s body meets a family of time-travelers. She is in a small town and it’s the first time that she feels accepted when she meets the family’s young girl. Soon they become best friends, but she learns that they would need to leave again for a different time-line.  Analysis: This is a story that looks from a point of view of a girl that was born with a boy’s body. She doesn’t face major issues with the people around her as she would have in an older era but still she feels that they not see her as normal. The time-travelers’ daughter comes as a big a relief and solace for how she feels. She can now see things with more optimism. Have some handkerchiefs near you because you will need them!

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8.2/10
You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych
horror , podcasts , Review , short stories / April 17, 2017

This is the review of “You Will Always Have Family: A Triptych” by Kathleen Kayembe, published in Nightmare Magazine’s March 2017 Issue. Summary: Isobelle is visiting her Uncle for the summer break. An Uncle who is consumed by superstition and fear. That’s why Isobelle doesn’t believe him when he says that the strange noises that come from her cousin’s bedroom belong to a pet dog. Pros: + The supernatural  horror here plays a secondary role to the reason that cause it. The real horror is what people can do when they give in to superstition. + The well-drawn characters. +The emotional ending. Cons: –  The shift between three different perspectives might reduce the tension of the story for some readers. You can read the story here.

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8.3/10
Remote Presence, by Susan Palwick
podcasts , Review , sci-fi , short stories / April 15, 2017

This is the review for the short story “Remote Presence” by Susan Palwick  published at the Lightspeed magazine’s April 2017 issue. Synopsis: Chaplin Win’s job in the hospital is to help ghosts leave our world. However, he finds trouble when he stalls the exorcism of a kind elderly ghost. Pros: + Heart-warming emotions. + The kind ghost + Very close to real life, human beings working in tiring real jobs