When I finally picked up the September/October issue of Uncanny Magazine, I was excited. I had been looking forward to reading since early September. Right away I was rewarded with a spectacular story.
Advertising has become so much a part of our culture. In “Can You Hear Me Now?“, Catherynne M. Valente uses that fact to amazing effect. Imagine if a woman in the ads you see was suddenly a real person, aware that they played different roles in each commercial? How would she deal with that? This masterpiece explores that idea while touching on all the real troubles and desires that consumerism covers up. (My rating: 5/5)
I was initially intrigued by the indigenous setting of “We Do Not Eat Much Fish” by Grace P. Fong. A woman called a witch by her father and husband, encounters a fisherman and brings him home to her son with dire results. The story is a bit gruesome for me and doesn’t explore as much as I wanted about the context of a woman taken to strange home by her husband. (My rating: 3/5)
Remember being a kid and peeling Elmer’s glue off your hand in sheets? In Kristina Ten’s “The Curing“, the outcast immigrant kids go a bit further. They cover their whole bodies and peel them off, and the glue copies come “alive”! Now, just one wouldn’t do, right? These kids make multiple copies and absorb all the memories that their copies make. It is a great story with lots of metaphor, subtle, and not too much in your face. (My rating: 5/5)
The longest story in the issue is “The Kingdom of Darkness” by Sarah Monette. In an alternative past, a man protects a demoniac after his witch finder is murdered. I am sorry to say that I could not finish this story. I found myself forcing myself to read it. I didn’t care what was going on. And it seemed a bit all over the place. (My rating: 1/5)
I found “The Girl with a City Inside of Her” by Jeannette Ng to be a little confusing. A girl with a city inside her sits on a stool in the sideshow of a carnival talking to the visitors about her city. The author seems to switch back and forth between the girl literally having a city inside her to it being simply a metaphor. I didn’t really care for it. (My rating: 2/5)
On a doomed mission to look for a replacement planet, a reluctant outfitter does her best to keep the surveyors alive after a deadly pandemic at home. This is “The Coffin Maker” by AnaMaria Curtis, and she really creates a palpable atmosphere. I could feel what was going on in this story. The desperation, the frustration. (My rating: 4/5)
“Four Words Written on My Skin” by Jenn Reese is a kind of a romance with a trope I don’t care much for. A woman follows her wife into the woods where the Fae have stolen her in an attempt to get her back. Their relationship was rocky but once her wife is taken, the main character realizes how important she is to her. That said, it is a good story well-written. (My rating: 3/5)
My excitement at the start of the issue had pretty much petered out by the end. The issue comes to a disappointing average rating of 3.25 out of five. Issue 55 is likely to be the last in my subscription.