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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Tor.com -- March 2019

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Tor.com, March 2019

Knowledgeable Creatures” by Christopher Rowe

How to Move Spheres and Influence People” by Marko Kloos

Reviewed by Christos Antonaros

Crows that behave as devious as a thug, dogs with a noir attitude working as investigators, and mice carrying the intelligence of an academic scholar or an evil mastermind. All the above intriguing characters make “Knowledgeable Creatures” by Christopher Rowe a unique narrative, which could be enjoyed even better with slow jazz music playing in the background. In this alternate reality, animals have been genetically “awakened” with the ability to speak and think, and they are considered a more than capable workforce. Detective Marsh, an awakened dog, is hired by professor Swallow, a human, who claims that she might have killed a colleague. When Marsh arrives at the crime scene, however, there is no evidence indicating a crime has been committed.

The author achieved an impressive combination of science fiction and noir genres. The mystery behind the incident unravels pleasantly through clever dialog and intriguing, yet humorous characters. With every step towards solving the mystery we read something new about the thought-provoking world created by the author, making this an even more entertaining read.

The next story, “How to Move Spheres and Influence People” by Marko Kloos, takes us to another alternate universe, this time of superheroes, villains, and common people. From being a school pariah and constantly bullied because of her handicap, T. K. suddenly becomes a superhero. Her ability, which is moving spheres of any size with her mind, will make her famous and will label her as an “ace,” placing her in the category of other people with superpowers. T. K. however, realizes that being a superhero makes her just as socially branded as when she was a girl with a handicap.

The narrative is very well written, mainly focusing on descriptive paragraphs and dialog. Through small chapters, we see how society treats people with disabilities, or even—as in the case of T. K.—people who demonstrate an exceptional ability. The author successfully argues that in the end, everyone wants to have a normal life and that to be different does not make someone dangerous.