“The One Who Isn’t” by Ted Kosmatka
Reviewed by Robert L Turner III
There is little I can say about “The One Who Isn’t” by Ted Kosmatka without spoiling parts of the story. A child dealing with some sort of memory problem finds himself in an isolated room. As he interacts with his caregiver we learn the deeper context. The story is framed in repetitious mythic format where storytelling becomes part of the plot as well as a formal structure for the needed repetition in the story. Kosmatka has done an admirable job of blending fantastic tropes and science fiction into a story which hints of a much richer world, one which is symbolized through the window in the story itself. I think this piece has potential to be expanded slightly and to become something extraordinary.
“5×5” by Jilly Dreadful recounts the infatuation of a scholarship student with another camper who has developed psychic ice cream as part of a science camp for advanced students. The story is thin, with more late twentieth century cultural references than anything else. Further, I am unsure if the writing is deliberately poor in an attempt to reflect the style of the teenage protagonists, or is the writer’s actual voice, but it is off-putting. Finally, the reveal at the end is both trite and heavily telegraphed. Overall, the piece is a waste of text. As a final note, after reading the linked author’s spotlight, I think the story was meant to be a serious piece. This is a shame, since it reads more like a parody of geek culture than a celebration.
“Magnifica Angelica Seperable” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is written in the style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the feel is certainly like that of some of his short fiction set in Macondo. The story deals with the deity Magnifica Angelica Seperable, and her determination to overturn the patriarchal culture of the town she created. She does so by waking the women of the town from their stupor of obedient wives and allows them to be their full selves. The men of the town are at first disquieted, but soon become content with the changes. Overall, this short story is decent. The GGM derived style is well done, with the phrasing and pacing fitting well into the Magical Realistic setting. The greatest weakness is that the message is overly obvious. While entertaining, the story has no subtlety.
“Some Pebbles in the Palm” by Kenneth Schneyer is a meta-narrative on writing and living, in which he rehearses the lives of three men, or the same man reborn, who live decent lives, feel bad for the oppressed, don’t do much, and then die. The story is trite, moralistic, and boring; a deadly combination. I would accept this from a sophomore, but expect more from a published piece.
Robert Turner is a professor and longtime SF/F fan.