Cabinet of Wonders: Nevertheless, She Persisted

… and Other Ways Women Rule

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

This week, women are depicted with agency and complexity (surprise!) Be it an ill-advised but wholly satisfying obsession with sex, a monster-slaying talent for badassery or the timely triumph over a rotten-hearted emperor, these ladies are making their own mistakes, choosing their own adventures and slaying their own dragons. Go forth and conquer, all our femme friends; these stories are for you.

A Review of The Stone Lover by Marta Randall at Lightspeed Magazine

The queen’s sexual appetites were well known even when Agathon was still alive. At least, her courtiers whispered, she couldn’t have her stone lover killed when she tired of him. As it happened, he pleased her so much she retired to her private rooms and had her meals delivered to the door, no farther. She barred her personal servants and slaves from her rooms, save for the one girl who kept the fire burning under the statue and made sure the pipes were clear. She filled the lamps and emptied the chamber pot, slept curled inside the statue’s base, and Phyrra soon forgot she existed. Read more »

A Review of Entropy in Bloom, by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Review by William Grabowski

We’re not Post-Apocalyptic, we’re Post-Yesterday.

It’s tempting and easy to compare writers, but this habit often is unfair to both object and subject. Example: thematically, and stylistically, the work of Jeremy Robert Johnson can be compared to that of John Shirley, Chuck Palahniuk (who lauds Johnson as “a dazzling writer”), or even Harlan Ellison. Since no writer emerges from the muck fully formed, comparisons are useful in the same way that someone might say, “If you like coconut milk and Thai peanut sauce, then you’ll probably like baked peanut chicken.”

Johnson rightly calls Entropy in Bloom a “4K Criterion Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray of my short work,” culled from We Live Inside You and Angel Dust Apocalypse, plus a never-before-published 25,000-word novella, The Sleep of Judges. Brian Evenson contributes a reflective intro. Read more »

Cabinet of Wonders: Phantom Limbs, Terrible Neighbors &…

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

From the “Monsters” series by Fortunio Liceti, 1665, public domain

Phantom Limbs, Terrible Neighbors & A Half-hearted Love God

Enjoy variety and freshness in stories that flow along at a quick clip. This Cabinet features a serious contemplation of the fluidity of memory and time, explores the weird inherent in the manufactured perfection of suburbia and ends on a high, humorous note as Cupid tries to get his game back.

A Review of Phantom Pain by Eileen Gunn at Lightspeed Magazine

For no reason Ed could figure out, he was lying in bed, an ordinary bed in a nice house. No jungle, no rain, no library. He smelled ether. A blonde woman was rubbing ether on his left foot. It was icy cold where it hit the skin, and the heavy, sweet smell of it cut into his head. It hurt like hell, or maybe it was his leg in the jungle that hurt like hell. That’s Katie! he thought, looking at the woman. That’s Katie, but she’s blonde. A thin little boy and a round-faced girl were watching silently. He was not in his proper body: He had only one leg. Why is Katie rubbing ether on it, he wondered. What happened to the other one? Read more »

A Review of Fever Dream: A Novel, by Samanta Schweblin

Review by Lauren Colie

There’s something in the water…

The vacation began as many do: with warmed and glistening skin, softly-scented sunscreen wafting in the breeze and a child’s energetic romp through the yard before lunchtime. Amanda and daughter Nina settled in for a week of relaxation in a rural rental, with Amanda’s husband set to join them the next weekend. Amanda, a city girl from the capitol, sensed another outsider when she met Carla of the gold bikini and chic bun and extended friendship to this temporary neighbor.

Through the pungent haze of cigarette smoke, Carla shared her story of loss. Her son, David, took ill after an accident she felt was her fault. She enlisted help from the woman who lives in the greenhouse because a doctor would have arrived too late, knowing her choice was risky. David was never the same.

All this, of course, you read from a great distance, a voyeur eavesdropping on the spirits of David and Amanda as he helps her navigate her fevered memories in the gray miasma of in-between. Timelines warp, logic stutters and some grand truth bubbles elusively, just beyond reach. Read more »