“The Samundar Can Be Any Color” by Fatima Taqvi
“Zhuangzi Dreams” by A M Hardy
“The Shoe Shopper” by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar (not genre, not reviewed)
“Infinite Tiny Lives, Infinitely Small” by Shane Halbach (reprint, not reviewed)
“Seed” by N. V. Binder (reprint, not reviewed)
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Two new fantasies featuring female characters, one yearning for a better future and one clinging to the past, appear in this publication of very short stories.
In “The Samundar Can Be Any Color” by Fatima Taqvi, a girl earns a small amount of income by gathering salt, seashells, and bits of metal from the seashore, but she desires knowledge and freedom. A supernatural being grants her three wishes. This leads to a startling transformation, and the fulfillment of her dreams in an unexpected way.
This variation on a familiar theme benefits from its Middle Eastern setting, as well as the sympathetic portrait of its protagonist. The manner in which the wishes are fulfilled is somewhat enigmatic, which may leave the reader less than fully satisfied.
In “Zhuangzi Dreams” by A M Hardy, a woman has braided her hair with that of her husband, which keeps him near her. Eventually, she unbraids their hair, leading to both loss and hope. Much of the story deals with the moths and butterflies that the woman attracts to her home, clearly intended as symbols of transformation.
This is a subtle and mysterious story. Read one way, the husband is dead, and the braid prevents his ghost from leaving the material world. Read another, he is changing from a human being into another form. Although emotionally effective, this quietly haunting tale may be too ambiguous for some readers.
Victoria Silverwolf had to look up a word in each of the titles of these stories.