Review – Uncanny Magazine #1

Issue 1

Issue 1

[This post was edited as I wrongly stated that Michael was editor of QDSF. He contributed an essay but is not editing. He did co-edit Queers Dig Time Lords though which is very shiny.]

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I helped to kickstart a new SFF magazine called Uncanny. The first issue shipped way back in early November and I FINALLY got around to finishing it just the other day. My bad.

Because, obviously, Uncanny Magazine is a shiny jewel of wonderousness. There was no way it wasn’t going to be because it’s edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas who have an amazing history of editorship (Is that even a word? Am I just making shit up now?!) and who, from their twitter feeds, appear to be two of the nicest humans on earth. Incidentally Michael has contributed an essay as part of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, a Lightspeed special edition issue that is kickstarting RIGHT NOW. I highly recommend backing it and also reading Michael’s essay in the updates section which had me in tears yesterday.

The magazine they’ve put together is something rather special and most certainly lives up to its name. Each story and poem was pleasantly odd – definitely science fiction and fantasy, but strange and slippery like they don’t want to be held to those definitions too tightly, their shapes shifting and blurred at the edges. Interviews and non-fiction also provided lots of a food for thought. I’m intrigued to see how this style is carried over into another issue and if it continues to shape the magazine’s content in the future.

Individual stories get mini-reviews below. Overall rating: 5 stars.

If You Were a Tiger I’d Have to Wear White by Maria Dahvana Headley 
Weirdly dark tale set in Jungleland, a Hollywood retirement complex for the celebrity animals like Leo the MGM lion. Think of the song The Piano Has Been Drinking by Tom Waits, add in the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas darkness and sleaze, some faded and chipped Hollywood glamour, and then let the animals start talking. Grimy and beautiful and heart-wrenching. 3.5 stars. 

Presence by Ken Liu 
A son cares for his dying mother through the means of a remotely-operated care robot – allowing him to be present, yet absent. In such a short piece Liu manages to cover so much that I wonder how to get it all into a review let alone how he turned it into a beautiful story. The benefits of technology and their amazing ability to connect us across the world whilst simultaneously failing to do exactly that. It is also the story of emigration, of families divided by distance, by culture, and generations. It is beautiful. 4.5 stars. 

Late Nights at the Cape and Cane by Max Gladstone
Supervillains in their off-hours congregate at the Cape and Cane for few beers and commiserations between colleagues. Except this time it’s a bit too real, and one villain has to face up to the consequences of his actions and his emotions. A wonderful bit of superhero life that you don’t usually get to see. 4 stars. 

Celia and the Conservation of Entropy by Amelia Beamer
At first just a cute little story about a girl who manages to time travel back to see her Grandfather when he was writing a book about time travel. The style stays sweet and simplistic but the concepts start making your head loop. But the concepts start making your head loop. pool daeh rouy gnikam trats stpecnoc eht tuB. 3.5 stars

Migration by Kat Howard
A strange and beautiful tale of two dying women in a world where souls are carried to the afterlife and then back to their reincarnated bodies by different birds. The plot is simple but the telling is elegant. 4 stars

The Boy Who Grew Up by Christopher Barzak
A strange little tale about a teenage boy who runs away from problems at home only to find Peter Pan who takes him away in a boat to Neverland. A story of growing-up and the tragedies of children’s lives that make them want to never do that. 3.5 stars

Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors by Jay Lake
A stunning piece from the late Jay Lake that tells of the guardians of the door of death, of cancer, and loss, and is filled with so much anger and joy and passion for the world that I just don’t know how to tell you about it. 5 stars

Additionally I totally recommend Tansy Raynor Roberts’ piece Does Sex Make Science Fiction Soft?. A wonderful look at some of the things SFF could (and should) learn from the romance genre.

Go forth and get it for yourselves – Uncanny Magazine is available for free and for subscribers (subscribers get content earlier – yay!).


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