Uncanny, issue 1

Amazing cover by Galen Dara
Cover by Galen Dara

Title: Uncanny, issue 1
Editor: Lynne M. ThomasMichael Damian Thomas
Magazine
Genre: weird fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, fantasy

I helped kickstart this magazine so of course I had to review the first issue of it, that’s how it works right?

Let me start by squeeing about the cover. Please press it so you can see it in full size. The artist is Galen Dara, now there is someone to nominate for the Hugos next year! Seriously space unicorns now makes sense!

The fiction

If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” by Maria Dahvana Headley
I listened to this on the podcast. Man this was a weird story and the interview actually only made it weirder. I am not sure that I liked it but it was strangely captivating. In the interview the author said that she had trouble finishing the story – sadly I kind of think that showed. I don’t particularly like fiction where it is hard to figure out what is real and what isn’t so I am quite biased in that regard. I don’t think this was a story for me, but I don’t think it was bad.

Migration” by Kat Howard
Once again I find it interesting that the first issue of this magazine have so many themes of death and endings. This story is about a woman who do not want to be reborn, she is tried of the endless cycle of life – now that I write that it sound very Budish, but that is not the vibe I got from the story. She is dying in the story and searching for a phoenix to carry her soul. It is a beautifully written story but it didn’t really touch me. But I don’t think I have the right experiences to connect to the story.

Late Nights at the Cape and Cane” by Max Gladstone
This was one weird story. I felt like being dropped in rather deep water with a lifeboat just out of my reach. It very much felt like a mix Wreck-It Ralph and DC villains. It is set in a bar linking the multiverse where super villains come for some R&R. The story is about a villain who somehow broke the system. It feels extremely meta and a bit in-jokey – I am just not sure I was in on the joke. I think I was mostly confused about weather I was in a computer game multiverse or in a comic multiverse. While reading it I was entertained but it left me confused.

Celia and the Conservation of Entropy” by Amelia Beamer
I read the first part of the story and then I listened to the rest on the podcast (which is excellent). The voice of the teenage girl in this story is just excellent can recognize a lot of the attitudes from my high school students – though they are older than the protagonist. There is a lot of humor in this story.

“Later, I swear,” I tell her. I don’t want her to think I’m nuts. She’d never believe me about the trucker who ate pie with cheese.

That is just perfect. The technology and the way she takes it for granted is just perfect. It is how most people and especially young people think about the current level of technology – it is natural and everyday – because of course it is. So what is totally amazing to the reader is treated like something amazing by Celia. The story is not only funny it is also full of wishfulness. Celia might tell the story like she is only worried about the science fair, but it is quite clear that she is longing to spend time with the grandfather she never knew. And I will stop talking before I spoil it.
I really liked the story and I highly recommend it. It is funny, clever and quite wishful.

Presence” by Ken Liu
An immigrant dealing with his dyeing mother on another continent. Dealing with not being there for her.
As everything else I’ve read by Liu the story it’s full of emotion, without pulling on your heath strings. This makes the story all the more emotional and powerful.

The Boy Who Grew Up” by Christopher Barzak
I read the first few pages and gave up because Peter Pan has never really been my thing so I wasn’t interested in the concept.

Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors” by Jay Lake (reprint)
This story is about illness, lose and trying to find your roots. The protagonist lost her grandfather recently to cancer and is ill with cancer her self. She apparently has fay ancestors and a fay twin. It is a rather strange story but a story with a lot of emotion and it is a sad story. Like so much of Lake’s fiction it leaves you hanging. His fiction is never about tying everything up a neat bow, rather it seems to be about making the reader feel and think. This story definitely made me do just that – think and feel. To quote myself on twitter: Strange, magical and sad.

This first issue seems to have a theme of lose and about death (physical or metaphorically) about endings. Which is an interesting theme for a first issue, now isn’t it?

Nonfiction

Mars (and Moon and Mercury and Jupiter and Venus) Attacks!” by Sarah Kuhn

Worldcon Roundtable featuring Emma England, Michael Lee, Helen Montgomery, Steven H Silver, and Pablo Vazquez

Does Sex Make Science Fiction ‘Soft’?” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
The short answer by Roberts is no, of course not – it makes it more interesting and real. And I have to agree wholeheartedly. As always Roberts non fiction writing is insightful with a hint of humor.  This was were I went first when I got the issue in my ebox and it was definitely worth reading. The interesting thing about romance is that nobody bats an eye when it turns up in fantasy or in sci-fi movies so why would it be bad in sci fi books? So much of our human interactions are influenced by or romantic feelings about other people… I get why you don’t want twilight-esc romance in all of your sci fi but no romantic relationships at all? Why no? One of my favourite sci fi novels last year (Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi) wouldn’t work without the interpersonal relationships of the crew. Star Wars wouldn’t be the same without the relationships now would it? Ok what I am trying to say in my own long winded way is that I very much agree with Roberts, that no,  it doesn’t make it better.

The Short List – The Ten Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Shorts on the Web” by Christopher J Garcia

Poetry

Kissing song” by Neil Gaiman

The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar
I listened to this on the podcast, but I had a fever yesterday and frankly I was sleepy so I should properly read this again if I am to be fair to it, because right now I don’t remember it at all.

The Whalemaid, Singing” by Sonya Taaffe

Interviews

Maria Dahvana Headley, Interviewed by Deborah Stanish

Beth Meacham on Jay Lake, Interviewed by Lynne M. Thomas

Christopher Barzak, Interviewed by Deborah Stanish

Editorial

The Uncanny Valley – Editorial by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

The stats

Published: November 2014 by Uncanny
Read: November 1st 2014 – January 1st 2015
Format: ebook & podcast

Amazing cover by Galen Dara
Amazing cover by Galen Dara

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