“Loyalty Test,” by Andrew Gudgel
Featured in Escape Pod 649, October 11th, 2018
An enjoyable yarn. I didn’t see the ending coming—I wonder if I should have? Either way, fun.
“The Golden Key,” by Carlea Holl-Jensen
Appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE #17, Spring 2018, March 20th, 2018; online here March 16th
An interesting piece with a great ending. Seems to be about an emotionally reserved/deadened man rediscovering a sense of romance (I mean, not eros romance, but the romance of mystery and delight). I like the way the romantic title contrasts with the mundane appearance of the key in the story. Maybe the key and box have to appear mundane in order to break through the main character’s reserve? A more conventionally fairy-tale-ish golden key and beautifully carved wooden box might have provoked his skepticism or cynicism, too fantastic to be real.
Holl-Jensen is the editor of a magazine by the same title.
Edited to add: I think this story does something unusual—introduces a character’s typical state (emotional reserve) while almost simultaneously showing how that typical state breaks down in the face of an unusual event. It works for me, even though the character’s typical state is more told than shown.
“Love Like Monkeys,” by Jess Zimmerman
Appeared in Terraform, January 13th, 2017
This story raises a bunch of creepy possibilities and refuses to fully resolve them. Not my cup of tea, although I can see it’s well done.
An interesting review: “What I liked about this story is that it’s a ‘gotcha’ story without a moral. It has the form of one of those irritating stories that the coffeehouse nerd in the brown cardigan writes to try to ‘wake people up.’ […] This story is happy to let it lie.”
“The Wretched and the Beautiful,” by E. Lily Yu
Appeared in Terraform, February 6th, 2017
An elegant story. While I have no doubt about the author’s politics, the story itself makes its point with delicacy, almost ambiguity.
A nice touch: “For this special edition of Terraform, the writer, award-winning E. Lily Yu, artist, Jason Arias, and me, the editor, will be donating our fees to the International Rescue Committee, a group founded at the behest of Albert Einstein, which assists refugees around the world.”
“The Interruption,” by Debbie Urbanski
I like this one. Good evocation of the main character’s rather unhappy life and (subtly, towards the end) the sense of freedom she finds in being lost. Wouldn’t feel out of place in a literary fiction publication.
I like how Terraform embraces stories that, while only science fiction in a loose sense if at all, use technology or science in interesting ways.
“Jonny Appleseed,” by Joshua Whitehead
An interesting look at growing up gay on a reservation. The ending isn’t really the end, of course—the main character is likely to have a lot more problems in his life—but it’s nice: an intimate moment with a boyfriend who accepts him as he is. (I don’t think he ever told Tias about Lucia, but they’re intimate all the same.)