Book Review: “Fairy Godmother Advice Column” (published in Lightspeed, issue 143, APR 2022) by Leah Cypess (four stars)

Book Review: “Fairy Godmother Advice Column” (published in Lightspeed, issue 143, APR 2022) by Leah Cypess (four stars)

“If you are able to gain quick access to an affordable therapist, that would be your best option. If not, maybe next time the apple-seller comes knocking, consider letting her in and listening to what she has to say.”

Hilarious column which springs off well-known fairy tales with modern (dare we call it woke) advice to said troubled characters. Short, fast, funny. Enjoy.

“Long-term, I agree that “Tired” must find a way to extricate herself from her family. As soon as she gets back from the ball, she should look into finding a support group.”

Book Review: “Proof by Induction” by Jose Pablo Iriarte (five stars)

magazine cover unrelated to story

Book Review: “Proof by Induction” by Jose Pablo Iriarte (five stars)

(Uncanny Magazine Issue 40)

“Are you—”  “Dead?” His father gestured toward the inactive monitors. “Apparently so.”

As with the best of all genres, science fiction is merely part of the setting for this excellent short story about inter-generational relations. Even after death. Iriarte takes the reader deep into Paulie’s mind, even as Paulie is focused on something else.

“You’re the smartest person I ever met. You would see through any faking.” Paulie blinked. A compliment.

A lot is implied but not stated about settings and technology. And that’s fine.

Did his father feel anything for him like what he feels for Maddie? Deduction is useless here.

(2022 Hugo Awards short story finalist)

Book Review: “Gennesaret” by Phoenix Alexander (four stars)

(Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #246, Mar 1, 2018)

Book Review: “Gennesaret” by Phoenix Alexander (four stars)

‘Theirs is a time of running.’

Excellent short story which develops itself in the telling. The reader enters the story in progress, but Alexander deftly tells only as much as needed, when needed. The climax is foreshadowed; the conclusion sadly appropriate. Good job.

“We can use this in the next campaign poster: the price of freedom. I can see it now.” “What a world we live in.”

Book Review: “Alan Bean Plus Four” by Tom Hanks (Four Stars)

Book Review: “Alan Bean Plus Four” by Tom Hanks (Four Stars)

“Travelling to the moon was way less complicated this year than it was back in 1969, as the four of us proved, not that anyone gives a whoop.”

Short story published in Oct 27, 2014 The New Yorker magazine. Just long enough to make his point; short enough to enjoy at a single sitting. Fun read.

“She is ever doubtful of my space-program bona fides. She says I’m always ‘Apollo 13 this’ and ‘Lunokhod that,’ and have begun to falsify details in order to sound like an expert, and she is right about that, too.”

Humorous apocryphal tale of Hanks and three friends circum-lunar space shot. Shades of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet.

“Yes, I told her, I had gone all the way to the moon and returned safely to the surly bonds of Earth. Just like Alan Bean. ‘Who?’ she said.”

Book Review: “The Thought That Counts” by K. J. Parker (Four Stars)

Book Review: “The Thought That Counts” by K. J. Parker

(Four Stars)

“A life of honest endeavour; well, why not? Everyone ought to try it at least once before he dies.”

Popcorn for fantasy lovers. Engaging short story about getting what you wish for. Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies #250, April 2018.

“If He says it, obviously there must be something to it. No disrespect, but you don’t carry that weight. You haven’t earned that right to be listened to. It’s not the same.” Annoying, because the Him they were talking about was, of course, me.”

(Illustration is cover of Ceaseless Skies #250, not related to this story.)

“Christmas in the Trenches” by Steve Haywood (Four Stars)


An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches” (Wikipedia)

Christmas in the Trenches” by Steve Haywood

(Four Stars)

“I wept that night for Charlie, for all my fallen comrades, for Konrad and for all the Germans we’d killed too. Their faces would haunt me for the rest of my life.”

A well-told very-short historical fiction about an older man reminiscing about the Christmas Day Truce of 1914. Taut storytelling. The more the reader knows about World War One, the better the story works.

“I didn’t smoke anymore, and I don’t think he did either, but that wasn’t the point.”

Book Review: “The Autumn Mist” by Michael J. Sullivan (Four Stars)


Book Review: “The Autumn Mist” by Michael J. Sullivan

(Four Stars)

“Time took everything but somehow forgot about him as if he were a Post-it note stuck to the bottom of a trashcan.”

A pleasant short story which will resonate with older readers. Sullivan builds on the imagined situation behind a song popular sixty years ago. Excellent.

“He had spent fifty years selling insurance, warning people about the dangers that threatened, but he hadn’t been home the night his wife died, and there was no insurance to recover lost time.”

I didn’t get it until late, even though many clues scattered throughout the story. First time read it through, then go listen to the song and read it again. (No, I’m not telling.)

“Reality didn’t allow for fairy tales or happy endings; life had enlightened him to that.”

Book Review: Pile of Bones by Michael J. Sullivan. (Three Stars)


Book Review: Pile of Bones (Legends of the First Empire, #0.5) by Michael J. Sullivan.

(Three Stars)

“Fear, for the most part, is yer friend. It keeps you alive, and stops you from doing stupid stuff like trying to fly or jumping in a fire. But, when yer scared of sumptin’ you ought not to be, well then, there’s just nothing for it but to grit yer teeth, spit in its eye, and challenge your dread to an arm wrestle.” Tura

A short, painless introduction to the world of Elan and one of the major characters of the greater series.

“So odd was this cautionary thought—as no one who knew her would ever accuse Suri of being prudent—that it caused her to laugh. After striking the [bee] hive several times, Continue reading

Book Review: “Redtooth” by Brian Rathbone (Three Stars)


Book Review: “Redtooth” by Brian Rathbone

(Three Stars)

“What did I say?” “You said: ‘I love you all, and I would like to cuddle, but I have a nuclear device in my ear.’”

A humorous science fiction cautionary tale for those who have trouble with auto-completion, auto-translators, and auto-spell correctors. A riff on the intersection between voice-activated assistants and ear buds. This technology is probably not that far away.

“I’m not cheap. I’m just resistant to change.”

Basically an extended gag. The concept is that not all technology advances are improvements, especially to late adopters. Nice cover art.

“The man to your right is a German spy who thinks you’re a CIA double-agent.” “What about the thick-fingered man from the pawnshop? Who does he think I am?” “He’s pretty firmly convinced that you’re an idiot.”

Book Review: “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander (Three Stars)


Book Review: “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander

(Three Stars)

“To see it would have burst your heart, and then they would have eaten what was left of you.”

Something of a farce. Fun to the point of being silly. Like a one-line joke extended into a story.

“Glamour never worked on cats. They saw right through the Princess’s spell, recognized the kindred hunters beneath, and found pressing reasons to be elsewhere.”

2019 Short Story Hugo Award finalist. Published in Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018.

“It was a good life, sprinkled with just the right amount of companionship and just the right amount of solitude, and none of them ever regretted their choices, which was a fine way to grow old if you can manage the trick.”