Darja Malcolm-Clarke provides “The Beacon.” It is the story of an alien race of creatures who resemble rodents and the central character’s attempt to deal with the fact that the sun has poisoned her milk. She argues with her (male) wife and sets off in search of an answer, perhaps in the form of the mysterious “fatherteat.” It was interesting to see some traditional human SF tropes used with a different species, and the story provides some intriguing twists on gender. Ultimately, though, I found the somewhat unpleasant and obnoxious central character a little off-putting, and it was hard to care overly much about the dilemma.
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“The Taste of Wheat” by Ekaterina Sedia
“The Beacon” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke
Reviewed by Ben Payne
This issue opens with “The Taste of Wheat” by Ekaterina Sedia. A young woman in a village is prone to collapsing and slipping into dreams, where she encounters a Buddha and his dogs. When her grandfather dies, she turns into a mouse to search for him. This story is well written and interesting, but I’m afraid I lost the thread about halfway through. If there is some kind of metaphor operating, I’m afraid it eluded me, and the story ultimately became just a string of weird incidents which culminated in an even more mystifying ending. Which is a shame, because the story seemed to have something interesting to say. Perhaps another reader might find the meaning that passed this one by.