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

Tor.com -- December 2019

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Tor.com, December 2019

The Time Variance of Snow” by E. Lily Yu

Dislocation Space” by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Tara Grímravn

For your reading pleasure this holiday season, the editors at Tor.com have selected two stories. Readers will enjoy E. Lily Yu’s reimagining of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, as well as the Cold War SF adventure by Garth Nix.

The Time Variance of Snow” by E. Lily Yu

Long ago, the Devil made a mirror that magnified the worst aspects of those gazing into it. Some time afterward, a physicist unknowingly shattered it and the shards spread through creation, lodging in men, women, and children alike. Much later, friends G and K are relaxing together one summer. After an argument over an ill-conceived joke, K leaves and doesn’t return. G knows, however, that she’ll have to rescue him one day. And so it happens that she does. Setting out on a journey to save him from the Snow Queen, all turns out just as she predicted.

Yu’s story has a beautiful, melancholy timeless quality to it, leaving the reader feeling as though they’re walking through a dream. The language and style are lovely and poetic, flowing nicely from line to line. It is an interesting mix with the physics correlations and modern references, and the footnotes give it a nice sense of realism—I quite liked those!

Dislocation Space” by Garth Nix

The year is 1949. Captain Aleksandra Vasilyevna Levchenko has been held for four years in a Siberian prison camp. Today, however, Stalin’s former assassin receives a visit from two men, Shargei and Termin, from the dictator’s office who have come to pay her a visit. To the surprise of her captors, they’ve been sent to offer her a reinstatement into Stalin’s good graces—possibly; there’s no guarantee. All she has to do is one job. With the threat of what they could do to her family looming over her head, Aleksandra accepts, not at all sure what she’s getting herself into but knowing she has no choice but to follow Shargei’s orders.

Nix’s characterization and world-building are quite good in this story. I genuinely like Aleksandra as the main character. I genuinely like Aleksandra as the main character. The insights into her past, how she ended up working for the Kremlin—all of the details we’re given create a well-rounded and relatable protagonist. I also enjoyed the Cold War setting combined with the anomalous nature of the oddity that was the focus of Shargei and Termin’s attention. I highly recommend this one!