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

Tor.com -- September 2019

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Tor.com, September 2019


The Hundredth House Had No Walls” by Laurie Penny

The Vetting” by Michael Cassutt
Zeitgeber” by Greg Egan

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

There are three first publication stories in the September issue of Tor.com, including one novelette.

The Hundredth House Had No Walls” by Laurie Penny

Penny’s light-hearted short fantasy has the King of Myth and Shadow bored with his easy life. Anything he wants he conjures through telling a story. Now, after five centuries he sets off to find something less predictable.

When he finds a singer, the Princess of Everywhere and Nowhere, he is instantly smitten. But will this independent minded spirit be impressed by his living stories full of wonderment?

The story’s easy pace and whimsical prose made for a pleasant read, though the plot was a tad predictable.

The Vetting” by Michael Cassutt

Jeff Bruno is an immigration lawyer in this SF short. Though weak from chemotherapy, he is doing pro-bono work for people trying to enter the United States through LAX during the new immigration crackdowns.

While working with a Syrian trying to enter to continue his scientific research, Jeff learns that the emigre is working on post-death experiences and quickly becomes fascinated. Then LAX goes on a lockdown because terrorists are trying to kill his client.

This was an entertaining story, a little light on the speculative elements, but a worthwhile read, nonetheless.

Zeitgeber” by Greg Egan

This intriguing SF novelette is set in today’s world when children begin to succumb to a mysterious illness. Over time, something moves some children’s circadian rhythm by twelve hours, and then slowly changes it by a few minutes each day. With children impacted at different times over many months, they fall into different groups defined by their times of sleep and alertness.

Emma, a precocious seven-year-old, welcomes the change. And the truth is those impacted show a greater satisfaction and alertness for learning. When criminals claim responsibility and demand a ransom for putting everyone back, the debate begins on whether that is a good idea or the children’s happiness is more important.

The story’s pace was good, and the plot explored many interesting topics. Overall, it was an engaging read.