, June 2021, June 2021

“An Easy Job” by Carrie Vaughn

The Far Side of the Universe” by noc (translated by Michelle Deeter)

The Red Mother” by Elizabeth Bear

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

There are three first publication stories at for June, one of which is a novelette. Once again, has put together a strong package of stories for its readers.

“An Easy Job” by Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn sets her SF short on Balliard, a space station where pirates operate. Graff of the spaceship Visigoth is there to identify the pirate’s liaison for their illegal activities. What no one on the Visigoth knows is that Graff is only partially human. He’s a member of a collective race that records humanity.

It should be an easy job, but things go awry immediately when Graff finds the liaison and realizes that he is part of the collective. There is no chance to keep themselves secret from each other. So, they both know they are enemies and symbiont partners at the same time. Graff has his work cut out if he’s going to find his way out of this predicament.

The story had an alluring pace and suspense to it, keeping the reader engaged until the end. This story was a part of the author’s series of short stories revolving around the Visigoth spaceship.

The Far Side of the Universe” by noc (translated by Michelle Deeter)

Ira is going to the far side of the universe in this short SF story. Her partner accompanies her to the dispatch station, where she will be frozen, and a map of her consciousness transmitted to Cygnus X-1, the first black hole found in the galaxy. There she would ride the Einstein-Rosen bridge to a place beyond the known universe.

At least that was the theory. But the workers at the dispatch station had begun to doubt the ethics of what they did. Was it a coincidence that the money saved from feeding the people sent was equal to the money spent to reverse the Great Decline?

The author’s prose was fast but weighted heavily to merely telling the story rather than showing it.

The Red Mother” by Elizabeth Bear

This fantasy novelette occurs in the land of the Norsemen. Hacksilver, a Viking sorcerer, is seeking his estranged brother to give him some good news. After following his brother’s magical thread, Hacksilver finds himself in Halfhand’s longhouse in a land plagued by a volcano.

Halfhand, Hacksilver’s longtime rival, claims to know where his brother is but requires Hacksilver to slay the dragon causing the eruptions. Not believing a dragon is behind the flowing lava, Hacksilver goes to see if he can magically stop the volcano.

When he gets there, Hacksilver discovers his error about the dragon and soon finds himself engaged in a most unusual battle on behalf of his brother and the people in the area.

This story’s plot was complex and intriguing enough to support the novelette’s length, making it a thrilling tale to read.

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