Book Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 4 (May/June 2015)

Uncanny Magazine Issue 4 (May/June 2015) by Michael Damian Thomas (editor) and Lynne M. Thomas (editor)

Publisher: Uncanny Magazine

Publication Date: May 1, 2015

Edition: Kindle, 163 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Online-Magazine

Rating: 4/5

This issue has some of my favorite short stores and poetry of the year!


The May/June 2015 issue of Uncanny Magazine.

Featuring new fiction by Catherynne M. Valente, A.C. Wise, John Chu, Elizabeth Bear, and Lisa Bolekaja, classic fiction by Delia Sherman, essays by Mike Glyer, Christopher J Garcia, Steven H Silver, Julia Rios, and Kameron Hurley, poetry by Alyssa Wong, Ali Trotta, and Isabel Yap, interviews with Delia Sherman and John Chu by Deborah Stanish, a cover by Tran Nguyen, and an editoral by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas.

All that plus two podcasts!

Episode 4A: Editors’ Introduction, Catherynne M. Valente’s “Planet Lion” (as read by Heath Miller), Alyssa Wong’s “For the Gardener’s Daughter” (as read by Amal El–Mohtar), and an interview with Catherynne M. Valente conducted by Deborah Stanish.

Episode 4B: Editors’ Introduction, Elizabeth Bear’s “In Libres” (as read by C.S.E. Cooney), Isabel Yap’s “Apologies for breaking the glass slipper” (as read by Amal El–Mohtar), and interviews.


Planet Lion by Catherynne M. Valente – 3/5 Rating

  • I’ll be honest… I think I may have missed something in my reading.

It was a good military SF story, with view points switching between these alien, telepathic lions, and field reports from various members of the military investigating the new planet. I think this story has a lot to offer, but I don’t know. Think I’d need to read this one again. Catherine does have fantastic prose! And there is a good interview with her on the podcast (episode 4A) where she talks about the influences for the story.

The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate by A.C. Wise – 3.5/5 Rating

  • I’m not sure if I can this a “story” or not. It’s a how-to-guide, and is present in that fashion.

It gives a few different methods on how a witch could possibly acquire a house, and proposes different and… unique techniques – with the pros and cons of each – on how to undertake each method. Regardless if it’s a “story” or not, I do know is it was hilarious! XD

Restore the Heart into Love by John Chu – 3.5/5 Rating

  • This is an emotional story, that I very much enjoyed.

I was Chinese minor in college and learned simplified Chinese (thank goodness, because traditional looked complicated), so I understood that the Chinese government had broken down characters into simpler, easier ways to write. Just how english words can be broken down into different roots and stems with different meanings, the Chinese characters can be broken into different radicals, each of which have their own meaning. When the Chinese language was simplified, some of these radicals were taken out of the character. The character keeps the same meaning, but if broken down to radicals (roots and stems) it would not make sense anymore. Chu takes this, and uses it as a metaphor about preserving the origins and meaning of our history, and at the same time, explore the relationship between a man and his mother.

In Libres by Elizabeth Bear – 5/5 Rating *FAVORITE

  • If you ever had to write any type of research or thesis paper in under/post-graduate, you will LOVE this story.

Euclavia is a graduate student who needs to goes to the library to get one more source for her paper. She asks her friend Bucephalus, a centaur, to come along and help her. Why does she need help? Because the library is a labyrinth of death where you can easily get lost, starve, or killed by the books – duh! XD

Every joke I used to make with my friends about going to the library: getting lost in library; feeling like we were going to die in there; having to bring to food or we would stave; going to the bathroom only to take break; being convinced the professor making us do more work for no reason other than to kill us. Bear takes all these and many more, and throws them into a fantasy story!

If you are going to read one story in this issue, read this one!

Three Voices by Lisa Bolekaja – 4/5 Rating


It is about Andre, a music teacher (college/university, I believe), who has been in search of a singer who may be able to sing his song Thee Voices. It is song that was composed by his father, written for him. Before his father was able to finish the ending though, he disappeared, and Andre must now finish it himself.

This song is make up of no lyrics. It is all vocals, lasts over an hour, is non-stop, and considered the greatest and hardest song ever created to sing. All singers who have previously tried failed. One day though, he finds the singer Tye Amma, aka “Chocolate Tye”, and she could be one to finally sing the piece.

The most powerful part about the story is how the song being sung is describe. There are no lyrics, and Lisa doesn’t describe any notes as “oohs” or “ah” sounds coming from the voice. What she does describe is the relationship between the song and the voice sining it – how the singers react to it; how Andre feels hearing it sung; the emotions and feeling that everyone goes through with this song. Since there is no lyrics of any kind described, I was able is to create what I believe was the most powerful and effective voice possible in my head, based off of all the character’s reactions. Great ending too 😉

Young Woman in a Garden by Delia Sherman – 3.5/5 Rating

  •  This a ghost story, and in Delia’s interview, is described as a “classic ghost story”. I wholeheartedly agree with that.

What stood out to me about this story was the subject matter. Theresa is a Ph.D student earning a degree in the History of Art when she decided to see if she could visit the home of French 19th century painter Edouard Beauvoisin (whom happens to be her great-great-grandfather) to learn more about his work and the truth behind the relationship between him, his wife, and his model.

It’s academic focused story, and Delia does an excellent job in describing the paintings and art world surrounding Edouard during his time of life. It was fun seeing Theresa trying to uncover Edouard’s pasts, and watching as she became consumed by the desire to study his works and life.


It’s the Big One by Mike Gyler

  • If you have not been paying attention to the current controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards, this is a good place to start. Mike Gyler of File 770 provides a history and background of how the Hugo Awards began, and gives an unbiased accounting on recent events.

Top Five Myths about YA by Julia Rios

  • I don’t read much YA, but I do know a lot of the various stereotypes that it is subjected to. Julia does a points out a few of these and breaks them down on why they are false. It was only 4 pages on tablet. It’s a quick and easy read.

I Don’t Care About Your MFA: On Writing vs. Storytelling by Kameron Hurley

  • Amazing essay! Kameron talks about how she had always been told she was an excellent writer, but could not figure out why she was not getting published until she realized that there was a different between writing and storytelling. Kameron also talks about how sometimes life isn’t fair. At young age, someone who cheated was given an award equal to her, who had worked hard and fair for it. Even if you are not a writer – which I am not – you should read this. I found it be powerful and quite motivating.

The Force That Was Peggy Rae Sapienza by Christopher J. Garcia, and Pegga Rae: Friend, Mentor, Superhero by Steven H. Silver

  • These are both about the late Peggy Rae Sapeinza. Christopher and Steven each give accounts of Peggy’s life, her involvement in SFF fandom, and a few personal stories they have with her. I had not know who Peggy Rae was until recently, and after reading these, I know now that she was a major influence in the SFF community that I love today, and left a great, positive impact upon many people’s lives.


For the Gardener’s Daughter by Alyssa Wong – 5/5 Rating

  • I love this poem so freaking much! READ IT. I, myself, kept reading it over and over agin. I’m also thinking I may keep one or two of those lines in my pocket for a rainy day… to use on a special lady-friend 🙂

From the High Priestess to the Hanged Man by Ali Trotta – 4/5 Rating

  • This is really good – great!

Apologies for breaking the glass slipper by Isabel Yap – 3.5/5 Rating

  • Inspired by Cinderella (as you tell by the glass slipper). Excuse me for my lack of poetry lingo about to happen, but whatever meter it was in, I liked it – very smooth and easy to read. Poems has a couple funny lines in it too.


Interview: John Chu by Deborah Stanish

  • John talking about his influence for the story, and briefly talks about the effect his mother’s passing had on it.

Interview: Delia Sherman by Deborah Stanish

  • Delia talks about her own academic background and inspiration it gave for this story, and her style of writing.

Thank, You, Kickstarter Backers! by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

  • Disclaimer: Yes, I was a Kickstarter backer.

Yeah, if you aren’t already, I’d recommend considering a subscription —>

4/5 Rating


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11 thoughts on “Book Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 4 (May/June 2015)

  1. Tammy says:

    I’ve heard lots of great things about this magazine, but haven’t tried it out yet. Im not really interested in essays or poetry, so I’d read it for the fiction. Nice review!


    • I’m not particularly interested in the essays either. I read them when I had a few minutes to spare here and there. I am trying to get into poetry more though. Their fun to read and generally very short, but sometimes it can be a bit of work having to read them over and over again to understand all the metaphors and meanings.

      I like this magazine a lot though. Always have a couple really good stories each month.


  2. Love magazines like this and Apex – Uncanny is new to me though, but seems like they’re off to a good start. Even though short stories aren’t generally my thing, I’m all about the fiction, so I admit to usually skipping the poetry and essays too like Tammy. But wow, gotta give that gorgeous cover much love.


    • I’m not necessarily super into short fiction – I’d rather spend my time with novels – but I find they were great for gaps between books. Finish a book in the morning or midday, and aren’t ready to start a new novel – thats when I read all these.

      Isn’t that cover great!? My favorite so far.


  3. I really need to get around to giving Uncanny a try. So many of the authors in this issue are ones I have enjoyed in the past.


  4. […] like an awesome dude, I was hoping he would win. And Alyssa Wong was nominated too, and because I loved her poem, I was cheering for […]


  5. […] Fact: The two best short stories I’ve read this are In Libres by Elizabeth Bear (my review), and A Year and a Day In Old Theradane by Scott Lynch (my […]


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