This issue of Fantasy Magazine was split right down the middle for me – the first half (two short stories, 1.5 non-fiction pieces) didn’t work for me that well, but the second half was really good with two great short stories and two non-fiction pieces that I really enjoyed.
Union Falls (J. S. Breukelaar)
Content Note: ableism(?)
When Ame shows up to audition as the piano player in the bar, Deel is hesitant – because Ame doesn’t have hands. But she can play an awesome melody with her feet, and is generally unusual.
Union Falls is not a bad read but I did feel like it was harping on about Ame’s disability a lot. How often do you need to mention that it felt like she just had her hands behind her back, or that her sleeves were empty? It got a tad sensationalist that way, a mix of magic disability and fetishization. Maybe I’m being too harsh, and a disabled person would feel very seen by it. But I felt uncomfortable.
When Wizards Rock (Wendy N. Wagner)
How many bands were inspired by great works of fantasy? A lot.
This is a nice collection of bands insipired by Lovecraft, Tolkien, Rowling and so on, but as I read it, I always kept waiting for some kind of point that never came. I guess it’s the kind of thing that’s good to know for a pub quiz.
The Machine (M. Rickert)
Content Note: rape
Philomela and Procne are the daughters of the god Pandion. After Pandion needs the mercenary Tereus’ help in a battle, Tereus is wed to Procne, but has his eye on Philomela.
This story did not work for me. The myth told was not that bad, though really very, very bloodthirsty. But it was framed by questions that I found sanctimonious and pretty much unbearable.
Interview with Jacqueline Carey (Hannah Strom-Martin)
The interview is not bad, but it is very specific about Carey’s work and since I haven’t read anything by her (yet), it was a little difficult sometimes. I did feel inspired to start reading some of her stuff, though.
The Wolves of Brooklyn (Catherynne M. Valente)
One winter, the wolves showed up in Brooklyn and didn’t leave anymore. People got used to them, at least the people of Brooklyn where everyone has a wolf story. But they’re still wild animals.
The Wolves of Brooklyn has a very strange, special atmosphere that I enjoyed a lot. It felt ever so slightly otherworldly, just pushed enough from our reality to become fantastic. Plus, it had a twist that completely surprised me and that I loved. Absolutely here for that kind of stuff.
Conversations With Wolves (Lauren Davis)
What’s the difference between a wolf and a dog? How do they behave differently?
This is a very well done summary of behavioral differences in wolves and dogs (there are quite a few!) and I wouldn’t have minded reading more about it, not at all.
Swans (Kelly Link)
Emma Bear is 12 years old. She is quiet and loves home ec. Her stepmother just turned her brothers, who are not quiet, into swans for being too noisy.
Swans is a mix of I don’t know how many fairy tales, and a mix of I don’t know how many settngs – a story that can have both Rumpelstiltskin and Star Wars in it, and it feels just perfect. It seems no surprise that quilts play a big part here – it’s basically a quilt of a story and I loved it.
The Princess is Dead, Long Live the Princess! (Hannah Pilinovsky)
Princesses feature in many different kinds of stories, and have been defined and re-defined. What makes a princess then?
There’s a bit too much content here for too few words, but the piece offers some nice insights into the history of fairy tales and their princesses.
Summarizing: Mixed, but definitely worth it for the second half.