Book Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 6 (September/October 2015)

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Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow. It was created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction. From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it was intended to help us share our love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.


Uncanny Magazine Issue 6 (September/October 2015) by Michael Damian Thomas (editor) and Lynne M. Thomas (editor)

Publisher: Uncanny Magazine

Publication Date: August 28, 2015

Edition: Kindle, 171 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Online-Magazine

Rating: 4/5


Another great issue!

Backcover:

The September/October 2015 issue of Uncanny Magazine.

Featuring all–new short fiction by Paul Cornell, Isabel Yap, Liz Argall, Kenneth Schneyer, and Keffy R. M. Kehrli, classic fiction by N.K. Jemisin, nonfiction by Diana M. Pho, Steven H Silver, Michi Trota, and David J. Schwartz, poems by Rose Lemberg, Dominik Parisien, Amal El–Mohtar, and Jennifer Crow, interviews with Isabel Yap, and Liz Argall and Kenneth Schneyer, and Matthew Dow Smith’s The Future Matters on the cover.

All that plus two podcasts!

Episode 6A: Editors’ Introduction, Paul Cornell’s “Find a Way Home” (as read by Erika Ensign), Rose Lemberg’s “A Riddler at Market” (as read by Amal El–Mohtar), and an interview with Paul Cornell conducted by Deborah Stanish.

Episode 6B: Editors’ Introduction, Keffy R. M. Kehrli’s “And Never Mind the Watching Ones” (as read by Amal El–Mohtar), Amal El–Mohtar’s “Biting Tongues” (Reprint) (as read by the author), and an interview with Keffy R. M. Kehrli conducted by Deborah Stanish.

***Note: All these stories, essays, poems, and interviews are free online at UncannyMagazine.com, and by clicking on the the name of each will bring you to them.

FICTION

Find a Way Home by Paul Cornell– 3.5/5 Rating

  • A middle-grade story about first-contact.

Gary is a quiet, 12 year-old boy, not really any friends, and has a mother that doesn’t seem to take too much attention to him. While out in the woods, he sees a silver space craft fly over head. He goes to investigate and discovers a sphere shaped object object on the ground that has an alien inside. Quickly Gary find himself on the run from the military with the alien and sphere.Nothing very new or inventive here.

Straight forward story about that quiet, lonely kid who finds the alien and thinks that now this is a chance for people to notice him. Still though, it delivered a lot of messages.

It was a fun and uplifting story that I believe everyone should enjoy.

The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap – 4.5/5 Rating

  • A powerful dark fantasy story set in Ancient Japan about love and demons.

((I should mention right now, as the editor does too, that this story has TRIGGER WARNINGS. Nothing is described in detail, but it is very obvious about what events are taking or have taken place.))

Akira is a boy who has lived a hard and abusive life – from witness his house burned down to receiving daily beatings and being used for please with his older brother. He is sold off to an army one day passing by, leaving his brother, the only who seemed to care for him, behind, presumably for ever – where condition do not much import and his mental outlook on life only grows worse. In the army he becomes a servant and an outlet for anger that soldiers may have. Things change thought when one day, when Akira meets a girl named Someyama, the new oiran (a women of pleasure) is brought to the army.

This story talks about youkai and oni, who are basically demons in Japanese folklore, Akira’s story and his relationship with Someyama hit my right in the heart, and while the story is powerful with emotion, it strong with it’s gore and horror elements as well.This is also told in second person, and done very well. So, Akira is actually “you”.

I haven’t finished all the short stories yet, but I find it hard to believe that there will be a better one this issue!

EDIT: I was the best story this issue 😀

The Sisters’ Line by Liz Argall and Kenneth Schneyer- 3/5 Rating

  • Fun, sweet; very magical and imaginative.

Our narrator sister is missing(?) or, at least, our narrator doesn’t know how to contact her. However, her sister does. She received letters in the mail from her that contain pieces of train. When she opens the letter, a wheel frame might fall out, or underneath the stamp, there might be nuts and blots. The narrate believes that is she puts the train together, it will take her to wherever her sister is. She also has a neighbor Stacy, who has a young daughter, Becky, who is best at everything she does… as long as it starts with a “B”.

This was an incredibly sweet story: seeing out narrator trying to piece together the train, and figuring out where he sister might be, or trying get Becky to help her put things together. All I could at that was, “Aw, she’s so cute!” And Becky can only do things that start with “B”. For example: she fails at math, but call it “Business Basics” and she’s a wiz. So asking Becky for “help” can be rather challenging… Also, that whole train in the envelople was so cool!I think a lot of people will love this story.

And Never Mind the Watching Ones by Keffy R. M. Kehrli – 4/5 Rating

  • Alien frogs with glittering belles.Aaron and Christian are high school seniors in relationship getting ready to go off to college.

They are together on dock with the alien(?) frogs with glittering belies. (No one know what deal is with these frogs are, except they are EVERYWHERE – in stores, in people’s houses, and regular hope around on everything including people.) They begin to talk about school: Aaron is under the impression that they will be going to school together, but when Christian drops a bomb by saying he is going off to Dartmouth – a school were Aaron was rejected – and acts like it is no big deal, Aaron walk from Christian to never seen him again. The story then jumps around to multiple POV’s that all, someway or another, have to do with Arron and the glittering frogs.

I love multiple POVs, but it is a rare things in short stories 😦 However, Kehrli did an excellent job with it here. Outside of Aaron and the Christian, each person’s sections seems completely unrelated to Aaron, at first, but as you get to the end of each of them, and read more POV, slowly, the bigger picture begins to emerge.At the end of each POV, there is brief little section about these glittering frogs. Wether it be a Youtube video, a gif, a website – something that gives little clues about the frogs. These glittering frogs things are extremely strange mystery.

Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters by N. K. Jemisin – 3.5/5 Rating

  • Taking place in New Orleans, presumably, during hurricane Katrina.

Toochie has live in New Orleans his whole life, and despite the raining, flooding, and other people leavings, he does says home. When the flooding first starts he has a conversation with lizard – similar to an alligator excepts with wings. The lizard too tell him to leave. The next day the water has flooded street and into his house. He helps his neighbor, an elderly women, to survive the storm, but she thinks there is more to this storm than rain. She thinks there is a Haint. Toochie think it religious superstitions but when something strikes their barge in the night, he begins to reconsider.

I don’t recall the storm actually being given a name, but the magnitude of the storm, the flooding, the evacuation, and the (lack of) help – I am going to assume this story was inspired by hurricane Katrina. If you were affected by that storm, I am sure that this will story will mean more to you more than others.

With Toochie, Jemisin is able to really shows how much of a survivor he is; how strong his love and pride for his home is – this includes both his city and the people in his city. There is a powerful message, a couple actually, that would I to say what are, would spoil much of the story. But know that they are there.


 ESSAYS

Suspended Beliefs: Verisimilitude vs. Accuracy by Diana M. Pho

  • Why is that people are okay with dragons, unicorns, and magic, but once there is a black character in medieval Europe, everyone starts complaining that it’s not accurate or believable?

A Brief History of MidAmeriCon by Steven H Silver

  • 1976 World Science Fiction Convention…

Diversity Panels Are the Beginning, Not the End by Michi Trota

  • Instead of having a “Diversity Panel”, why not have all the panels be of a diverse cast of people?

Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box by David J. Schwartz

  • There is this set definition of “maleness”,”masculinity” and what it means to be “a man”, and this is referred to as the “Man Box”. Those who do not fit in that box created there own “Nerd Box”, which starts out as a sanctuary of comfort from the Man Box. But, ironically, this Ned Box then becomes a shield they use to help prove to themselves of their own type of “musicality” which in-turn can have damaging affects on their relationships with other males, female, and gender.This is worth a read, in my opinion.

 POETRY

A Riddler at Market by Rose Lemberg – 4/5 Rating

  • CAUTION: Do not read if hungry 😉

Beautiful poem and imagery; a must read for foodies.

To a Dying Friend by Dominik Parisien – 3/5 Rating

  • Very touching.

Biting Tongues by Amal El-Mohtar – 4/5 Rating

  • “They say” women should only say sweet things. So women bite their tongue, but soon the blood in mouth becomes too much and they must spray it out. Then, “they say” if you can’t be nice and perfect and sweet don’t talk all, and ask what you expected to happen when you wore that? That the wolves cannot help themselves.

The poem goes continues on with when “them” saying how women should, and women trying to hold their tongue and act this this ideal and perfect women, but they can only hold so much blood in their mouth and stomach until they have to let it all out.

Excellent poem.

The Book of Longing by Jennifer Crow – 3.5/5 Rating

  • About saving a moment, turning that into a memory, and holding to it until later.

 INTERVIEWS

Interview: Isabel Yap by Deborah Stanish

Interview: Liz Argall and Kenneth Schneyer by Deborah Stanish


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

  • Disclaimer: Yes, I was a Kickstarter backer.
 If you aren’t already, I’d recommend considering a subscription —> UncannyMagazine.com

4/5 Rating

-DJ

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 6 (September/October 2015)

  1. Sharry says:

    I’m going to go ahead and read “The Oiran’s Song” right now…you’ve certainly made me curious about it, especially with the whole 2nd person pov thing…very intrigued!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let me know what you think after you read it!

      Like

      • Sharry says:

        I just finished reading it. Wow. The story reads so smoothly, I barely even noticed the use of 2nd person. I wonder why the author decided to use second person instead of first person? I personally don’t think I got any closer to Akira via 2nd person pov…what about you? Overall, it’s very beautifully written –very vivid, poetic, tragic. It’s leaving me feeling kind of bleak and empty and goose-bumpy. I was hoping Akira would escape and return to his brother or have a new chance at life, but that ending was brutal!!

        Like

        • For a while at the beginning, the gender of Akira or, who “you” were, wasn’t revealed, so that’s what I thought Yap was going to do. Especially with the ways Akira was “used” with his brother and sometimes with army, and when the oiran showed I thought for sure “you” were a girl (Like, why let her sleep with a boy?). After I finished, I thought how differently the story would have felt had I thought “you” was a girl the whole time.

          I don’t think I necessarily felt any close either, but I don’t remember the last time I read a story in the second person, and loved reading it that POV here.

          That would have been nice ending, but I think the tragedy was perfect for the tone of the story. So sad, yet, so beautiful. I wonder if the oiran ever goes to find Akira’s brother?

          Like

  2. I am even less likely to read SFF magazines than I am novellas, but I would totally check this one out for the Jemisin story alone! And ooh, awesome, you’re participating in SciFiMonth too!

    Like

  3. […] The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap (Uncanny Magazine #6, September/October 2015) – my review […]

    Like

  4. […] Book Review: Uncanny Magazine Issue 6 (September/October 2015 […]

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