Keeping in synch with my theme of ‘Discover’, when @uncannyMagazine asked for reviewers, I jumped in without thinking. The editor, Lynne, immediately sent me a soft copy of the magazine. I am so glad I decided to do this review. The magazine has been very different from what I normally read. The magazine has a set of short stories, non-fiction essays, poems and author interviews. It is also of the genre fantasy/YA and everything in between. It is also stories from and about the LGBTQ world.
Let me start with the cover. It is simply magical. It is beautiful and attracts interest. The magazine tells me that it is done by award-winning cover artist John Picacio. It sets the tone for the magazine.
Bodies Stacked like Firewood by Sam J. Miller
The story is about Cyd who has committed suicide. Cyd was in love with the narrator. But, in the narrator’s own words, ‘Both locked our hearts up tight’. This simple statement tells the crux of the story. The words create vivid images. Cyd and his eccentricities are clearly brought out in the initial few words. He seemed to have a lot of friends or followers. The have created Cyd Cards in his memory which contain quotes said by Cyd. His parents think he is weird. Cyd wants his body to be burnt as he had a lifelong fascination for fire. His parents don’t seem to be aware of this and have the body sent for funeral preparations. No one understood Cyd like the narrator. I loved the way everything is told through the narrator’s eyes. He is also discovering many aspects of Cyd just like the reader. The story has a parallel layer comparing with The Great Gatsby. The writing is superb and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short story. I wanted to immediately tell the writer that I loved this story, and I did via twitter. All the artifacts have contact details of the authors.
Monster Girls don’t cry by A.Merc.Rustad :
Again a beautiful story with a great message. It talks about monster girls who have weird features like horns, wings, lips in their palms. They try to blend in with society by sawing off the horns which keep on growing, trimming the wings. It is a bloody activity and painful. The monster girl, Phoebe, is unable to understand what is wrong with her. Yet, she tries to blend in. Her sister Maria has more grotesque features which doesn’t help her to blend in and as a result stays locked in her home. It is a beautiful story when Phoebe finally realises that she need not blend in. It is an allegorical story with deep insights. Well told. There is also an interview with A. Merc Rustad in the end where she talks about this story. I am a fan now.
Goddess, Worm By Cassandra Khaw :
In this story, the author uses the SilkWorm which dies to create Silk which is so coveted by all. The worm is trying to win her case. She doesn’t want to transform. She just wants to be as she is, but the others who think they know better, do not agree. On the contrary, they tell her that she is being elevated as it means more silkworms to be raised. I loved the way this story is structured by putting points one, two, three. Sample this,
“I was a worm with the head of a horse. I spun silk for the court, over and over, for thousands of -”
“And we all appreciate it.”
“You boiled me alive for the silk. I did not appreciate it.”
The magazine, in its non-fiction section, has a review of the movie ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ by Mark Oshiro.
There is a beautiful essay on ‘Why you should read Romance’ by Natalie Luhrs. I love to read romances and a good romance is about relationships.
The author has put in perfectly in her own words, “Some of the most exciting stories being told in romance really dig deep into the characters’ emotional lives and explore, not only who they are, but why they are who they are, including both internal and external factors.”
Isn’t that why we love to read romance? There are many more meaningful insights in this, but let me not put them all here.
‘I have never not been an Object’ author Delilah S. Dawson writes about her life as a rape survivor. She says her readers think that her stories are gore and violent. But, she says that is how she feels inside all the time. It is how dark her life is and she wants the story to be told. A sensitive topic there and you can feel the angst of the author.
‘Blood of the Revolution : On Filipina Writers and Aswang’ by Angel Cruz : In this article, I read about a culture which is completely unknown to me. It explains the stories told by Filipinos. It is about ghost stories which have Aswang in them, a type of Ghoul. As an Indian, I could identify completely with this as we have all sorts of mystic creatures with mythical powers ready to scare and tickle you. The author also talks about the North American’s way of caricaturing a Filipino. She says, “We are the maids, the geisha, the tiger moms. We are the quiet, submissive women, the intensely sexual women, the women who think of nothing but marrying a rich white man – what other goal is there for an Asian girl?” Let me tell the author, Indians are also typically typecast as ‘Dark, weird accents, ambitious, bookish, sexually frustrated, no brains.’ Just see them on American and British TV. We have a lot in common.
After reading all this, there is still some beautiful poetry and interview with some of the authors in the magazine. I did not read all the poems, but I loved the poem ‘Jean-Luc, Future Ghost’ by Nin Harris. She talks about a child she has lost. She names him Jean-Luc and he is always in their talks and memories and therefore a future Ghost. My pain is not as deep as hers, but having sons, I pine for having a daughter. And she is my future ghost. A beautiful girly dress is all it takes to bring her out. My eyes go moist at the experiences I will never experience of having a daughter.
I completely enjoyed reading this magazine. wish we had something like this in India. I am also not sure if we can get this magazine in India but you can read the stories online too. If you love to read short stories and quality content (who doesn’t?), this magazine is for you.