Strange Horizons, April 13, 2020
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
The fantasy world presented in “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea-Fish” by Jo Miles is a surreal one. Beings who resemble walking, sentient bushes must regularly ingest fish raised in carefully controlled pools of tea in order to avoid dormancy. An accident kills all but one fish. The protagonist must ingest it and stay awake, caring for the next batch of fish to come, while the others of her kind go dormant. In addition to facing a threatening invasion by parasites, she must also face the possibility that dormancy will erase her daughter’s memory, or even kill her.
The author displays great imagination, and is able to make the reader care about characters who are very different from human beings. Even for a fantasy story, the logic of the background is questionable. One has to wonder how such a bizarre and precarious ecological system came about, and why it hasn’t already collapsed.
Victoria Silverwolf also writes for Galactic Journey, nominated for a Hugo for Best Fanzine this year.