Excellent Storytelling in Speculative Fiction

Uncanny Magazine Issue 47 cover

I’ve been a subscriber to Uncanny magazine for a little over a year now. I just finished reading issue 47, the July/August 2022 issue. It is the best issue since I started subscribing. Here are my favorite stories from the issue.

Every issue of this magazine uses speculative fiction to address the very human issues of today. Sometimes the stories are challenging and emotional. Sometimes they are just a romp. And more often than you might think, they are both. Each issue is reading. Consider supporting these writers by subscribing.

A Contemporary SFF Magazine

Uncanny Magazine No. 45 Cover

I am a huge fan of science fiction. I read many sci fi novels in high school, and recently subscribed to the semi-pro Uncanny Magazine. It publishes every other month and includes short stories, novellas, poetry, and essays on the topics of science fiction and fantasy. The latest issue is number 45, March/April 2022.

In this issue I dogeared five different pieces – two short stories and three essays. Flowerkicker by Stephen Graham Jones (available online April 5) is the story of a couple on a hike up a mountain. She is stopping to view every flower. He wants to get to the top and back before sunset. And they come across something out of the ordinary along the path.

In Requiem for a Dollface by Margaret Dunlap (also available online April 5) a teddy bear seeks the “murderer” of a child’s favorite doll. Upon discovering the perpetrator, he must make a very difficult ethical decision.

The essay Acknowledging Taiwanese-American Vampire Foodies by Jo Wu discusses explores cultural prejudice in the foods we eat and how they affect our attitudes toward those who eat differently. I thought the title absurd, not expecting much from the piece. Instead I found it poignant and insightful.

Resisting the Monolith: Collecting As Counter Narrative by Rebecca Romney is an essay by a collector of feminist science fiction. She traces the history back before Margaret Atwood to the nineteenth century. I added at least two titles to my “to read” pile after reading it.

Wax Sealed With a Kiss by Elsa Sjunneson (available online April 5) discusses the role of letters in general and love letters in particular throughout history and their use in fiction such as The Screwtape Letters and This is How You Lose the Time War. She even explores how her own letter writing helped her get perspective on her divorce.

I encourage anyone with an interest in contemporary science fiction and fantasy to read and subscribe to this excellent magazine.

Not Your Average Love Story

cover of the book "This is How You Lose the Time War"

I almost stopped reading This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar. I am very glad that I didn’t. I found it a little hard to get into. The language is what I would call “flowery” and poetic. And since the story is largely told through letters, learning about the world takes some investment. But the investment is worth it.

The love story is deep and complex while somehow being somewhat traditional despite it being between enemies. I am not a big fan of sappy romantic nonsense (that’s my description for absurd, unrealistic romantic ideas that pass for relationship stories). Some parts of this story gave me that feeling, but for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on I kept reading and lost that feeling.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to explore an unusual story unusually told, this might be for you.