All the stories in the June issue are now available to read free online. Here are my brief reviews for each.
Dominique Dickey writes about a biracial couple of dating teenage boys who take a “Spaceship Joyride” by hot-wiring a school vehicle. When stopped by the police, both are terrified. Also, ll the uncertainties and exciting feelings of new relationships are there. (My rating: 3/5)
Ruth Joffre gives us “Queen of the Andes” where Bolivian climate refugees struggle with the decision to leave a dying planet or stay and preserve the eponymous plant. One character tries to decide if he should take a seed and leave while others consider such a choice a betrayal. An unflinching look at how climate change can influence indigenous people. Yet I still wanted there to be more to the story. (My rating: 3/5)
When you are living on a multi-generation space ark, there isn’t much to do for fun. So, a pair of young people on separate space arks traveling together decide to make a perilous jump between them. This is “Jaywalk the Stars” by Elad Haber. It has a good built up but I found the climax a little banal. (My rating: 3/5)
Wendy Nikel tells a haunting tale in the desert in “The Bone Gatherer’s Lament“. As he travels the desert gathering and listening to the bones, he contemplates how to share what he hears. His solution is creative and beautiful. This piece of flash fiction is lyrical and poetic, a real work of beauty. (My rating: 4/5)
The other flash fiction story is a wonder of storytelling. Rich Larson give us “Always Personal” in only 743 words! In it a detective is investigating a serial killer who uses genetically coded bone daggers that grow inside the victim and kill them from the inside out. A chilling and gripping piece. (My rating: 4/5)
In “Philoctetes in Kabul“, Deborah L. Davitt tells of a veteran of Afghanistan who is forced to leave the Army due to too many concussions. He is not happy with having to leave. As he deals with his PTSD, he has hallucinations that involuntarily associate his war experience with Homer’s Odyssey. The emotion really comes through here. (My rating: 4/5)
When a boy’s father dies, he leaves him a book that is a bestiary of mythical animals that come to life out of its pages. This brings him power and wealth and the ire and jealousy of his neighbors. In the end, the gift protects the boy. “Bestiary viventum” Kyle E Miller is a beautiful story of love and overcoming grief. (My rating: 4/5)
The best story of the issue is the last—”And All the Fields Below” by Sarah Grey. After a sick boy dies, his parents prepare to move out of the home. At the last minute, the boy’s dog runs into the woods, and they are forced to leave without him. He stays because he can still see the boy in his attic bedroom. He breaks into the house to be with the boy. But then the house is purchased by a new owner. What will the dog do? A sweet tale of love and loss that pulled me right in and wouldn’t let me go. I can’t wait to read this author’s next story! (My rating: 5/5)
My average rating for the stories in this issue: 3.75 of 5.