Tor.com, November 2017
“The Tablet of Scaptur” by Julia Keller
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
The two stories offered this month by Tor.com could hardly be more different.
The setting for “The Tablet of Scaptur” by Julia Keller is New Earth, an orbiting space habitat. Through a series of unlikely events, a teenager winds up with a Martian stone, inscribed with writings from the civilization that existed on the red planet billions of years ago. A brilliant little girl deciphers the message, which has implications for New Earth. The style and content of this story seem best suited for young readers who are new to science fiction. Older readers with more experience in the field may find it simplistic and implausible.
“This World is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer is very strange. The narrator relates how a being he calls a “story-creature” invaded his body, leading to a complete transformation of himself and the world. He encounters many other weird lifeforms, which seem to be both plant and animal, on an odyssey through a bizarrely changed environment. The descriptions are vivid and imaginative, but the story’s intent is unclear.
Victoria Silverwolf heard Jeff VanderMeer on the radio a few days ago.