Uncanny #10, May/June 2016

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Uncanny #10, May/June 2016

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire

“The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard
“The Blood That Pulses in the Veins of One” by JY Yang
“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong
“The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov

Reviewed by Herbert M. Shaw

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire
A misunderstanding in intergalactic communication mirrors a folk song about a struggle for royal favor. Told in first person narrative from the perspective of a scientist whose discovery of an alien race endangers the lives of her children and human society as she comes to realize the consequences of her actions. The Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’Moray” serves as loose inspiration for McGuire’s tale about a society unprepared, and the maternal instincts of the main character come in spades from her retelling.

The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard

When the ghost of a brash face from his past returns, it is up to an island’s mortal protector to right a recent wrong. Secluded to a tropical are where the dead rise at low tide, the protagonist describes his struggle as the sole protector with a wide array of metaphors and similes. Howard takes on the undead by fighting fire with fire in a story about friendships, family ties, and skeleton horseback riding.

The Blood That Pulses in the Veins of One” by JY Yang
Despite death, consciousness survives, and in this case, that consciousness belongs to an ancient being. Yang transports the reader to a world where life and death are mere states of being, where the thinking of a powerful entity keeps aspects of a subject ticking while its physical form lies dead on an examination table. The characters seem to all know what is going on, and the reader is welcomed into their world with the most comfort and ease.

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong
A second-person novella places the reader as the main character to become immersed in the mindset of a person capable of controlling the dead. Some call it witchcraft, some call it a family trait. Through deep understandings of the other character’s perceptions, Wong manages to create a sense of how dangerous and significant your power can be as you lead an expedition to an abandoned mine to rid it of its infestation.

The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov

This issue’s trend of stories involving the undead and death by water culminates in a sort of ‘Freddy meets Jason’ myth held by one person. After a demon killed the father, it is up to the son to prevent it from coming for his newly teenage daughter on the cusp of womanhood. His journey is plagued by a past he cannot let go of for fear that being forgotten will not mean it is gone. As the only male writer in this month’s issue, Markov concludes these stories by unknowingly borrowing aspects of the previous four, those being family values, brash actions, facing the dead, and the ever-present environment of water.