‘Survivor Song’ a Prescient Tale

I had to stop multiple times while reading Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song to check whether it had been written before or during the pandemic. And then check again, and again, because the way his fictional society reacted to his fictional outbreak felt far too close to reality circa March-April 2020. But Survivor Song was publishedContinue reading “‘Survivor Song’ a Prescient Tale”

Barker’s ‘Women’ is a Dazzling Return to Troy

Thousands of years after the fall of Troy and long after the Greek gods’ influence faded, the stories and myths from that golden era still persist. Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls revisiting of that era by unspooling a single mention of a Trojan woman, Briseis, who was given as a token in aContinue reading “Barker’s ‘Women’ is a Dazzling Return to Troy”

‘Song for the Unraveling of the World’ Strange and Compelling

The first story in Brian Evenson’s collection Song for the Unraveling of the World is less than two pages long. That page and a half, though, is a good litmus test. If you don’t like it, you can confidently move onto some other short story collection. But if you find yourself intrigued and uneased, there’sContinue reading “‘Song for the Unraveling of the World’ Strange and Compelling”

‘Home By Now’ Paints a Tempting Picture of Remote Living

Over the last couple of years, the fear of catching a deadly disease has brought about a long-overdue shift to remote working for many jobs, and along with that has come a migration away from many big cities. If all you need to communicate with your colleagues is a decent internet signal, why pay forContinue reading “‘Home By Now’ Paints a Tempting Picture of Remote Living”

‘Exploding Teeth’ Nothing Short of En(gross)ing

The Wall Street Journal‘s book reviewer called The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Medical Curiosities from the History of Medicine “a delightful romp,” according to the blurb on the back of the book. While I definitely enjoyed this compendium of bizarre medical cases from a time before germs were a thing anyone knewContinue reading “‘Exploding Teeth’ Nothing Short of En(gross)ing”

‘Elder Race’ is the Best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Little-known fact: Arthur C. Clarke came up with his third law after reading Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race. Okay, maybe Clarke predated Elder Race by a few decades, but the idea that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic has never been truer than it is in this slim little story that is at once aContinue reading “‘Elder Race’ is the Best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy”

‘Echo Wife’ Delivers Chills and Food for Thought

There’s no such thing as the perfect spouse, though many people have tried to mold a person into that elusive flawless companion. When science gets involved, creating that perfect spouse becomes a far more literal task. That question is explored, more than once, in Sarah Gailey’s chilling The Echo Wife, which sunk its claws deepContinue reading “‘Echo Wife’ Delivers Chills and Food for Thought”

Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’

“War is hard on women,” says a character near the end of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, ruminating on the costs the main character has endured the whole novel and will yet endure. The line ran through my head again and again as I read Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, a graphic novel thatContinue reading “Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’”

‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest

I’m from a farming family and I’m from the Western U.S., which means I’ve had more than one run-in with rattlesnakes. Along with ticks, they are the reason for always wearing calf-high boots, even in the summer. Growing up, the family policy was simply to shoot on sight and rid the farm of that kindContinue reading “‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest”

‘This Thing’ Brings Shivers

The first time I brought home a—uh, we’ll call it a “home assistant,” my partner scoffed and said we didn’t need anything like that and we’d never use it. The next morning, he told it to play Gregorian chants, and then interrupted the Gregorian chants to ask about the weather. Now, she’s so engrained inContinue reading “‘This Thing’ Brings Shivers”