Uncanny Magazine provided a ‘Best of 2017’ which seems to contain most of the Hugo-nominated shorts from this year. Nice. You already know my views on Sun, Moon, Dust; on Small Changes Over Long Periods; on Fandom for Robots; Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand; And Then There Were (N-One); Children of Thorns, Children of Water; and Why I don’t Trust Batman.
This is a full-length magazine, so I’m not going to review every story, essay or poem in it, but I will say, I think that’s one of the highest hit-rates I’ve had in an anthology for stories I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. I especially liked The Worshipful Society of Glovers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, which is a lovely, edged fairy tale about a journeyman glover who makes ensorcelled gloves – but lacks the money to make the pair that would prevent his sister’s seizures. It’s very good, and while it does have a sort of happy ending, it isn’t the kind that lets you get away with thinking that magic comes without a cost. Paradox, by Naomi Kritzer, is short but excellent – it looks like pure humour and light time-travel related silliness, but it has a sting in the tail. NK Jemisin’s story, Henosis, is another quite short story, about writing, and awards. It is blackly humourous and very clever. And Sam Miller’s Bodies Stacked Like Firewood is strange, unsettling, and a little depressing, set at the wake for Cyd, who committed suicide. Also, there are all these extracts from a fictitious literary essay positing that F. Scott Fitzgerald had some sort of mental illness that led to time travelling and that The Great Gatsby is full of cryptic references to the Holocaust. And Theodora Goss has a very short story, Seven Shoes, which is a beautiful fairy tale about living and writing.
The non-fiction pieces were all excellent, and clearly heavily influenced by the fun we’ve all had in 2017… so many different stories that were effectively talking about political resistance in different contexts. Particularly wrenching was the essay by Mimi Mondal, which talks about being a woman from a lower caste in India, whose parents raised her in an age when it seemed that the sexism and caste-based discrimination was ending, only now it has come back – and also about the pain and uncertainty of being an immigrant in the US now. Elsa Sjunneson-Henry talks about disability and protesting and resistance, and Dimas Ilaw writes about the political situation in the Philippines.
There were some lighter essays, too, but even these had a political feel to them in the current era – I especially enjoyed Sarah Kuhn’s essay about superheroes and representation (Sarah wrote ‘Heroine Complex’, which I reviewed in my Campbell reading).
Halfway through Semiprozines, and Uncanny is going to be hard to beat – I really liked the vast majority of what I read, and absolutely none of it was boring.