Strange Horizons, June 9 & 20, 2022

[On May 10, 2021 Strange Horizons officially expressed its political support for Palestinian solidarity. The views of Tangent Online reviewers are not necessarily those of Strange Horizons. Fiction critiqued at Tangent Online is, as much as is humanly possible, without prejudice and based solely on artistic merit.]

Strange Horizons, June 9 & 20, 2022

“Objects of Value” by AnaMaria Curtis (June 9)

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

A special fund-raising issue of the magazine offers a new fantasy. “Objects of Value” by AnaMaria Curtis features a woman who transfers memories from one object to another. She lives in a city floating in the sky. It is about to be destroyed, so people come to her to save their memories in objects small enough to carry on airships; or, if they cannot afford the ticket for the ride, in even smaller objects to carry with them while wearing parachutes.

A young man waits for his beloved to show up with tickets for an airship, but the lover never arrives. The woman must figure out a way to have him make use of her extra parachute, without losing his memories of the one he loves.

The premise is original and charming, even if the way in which the memory transfers work is not always clear. The story goes on for a bit after the woman does what she does for the man, making the rest of the text somewhat anticlimactic.

Victoria Silverwolf has never been in an airship or worn a parachute.

♦ ♦ ♦

“That Old Sweet Water” by Rick Hollon (June 20)

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

The protagonist of “That Old Sweet Water” by Rick Hollon inherits land containing a spring from deceased parents. A mysterious person, soon to be revealed as one of Faery, arrives, offering the protagonist the same bargain as they had. The water is something like a Fountain of Youth, bringing back not only the protagonist’s childhood but creatures from ancient times. Although this seems tempting, a clue provided by an old fantasy novel warns the protagonist against accepting the offer.

Vividly written with great sensory appeal, this story carries the reader into its backwoods setting. The plot depends on the content of Hope Mirrlees’ 1926 work Lud-in-the-Mist, although full knowledge of the book is not absolutely necessary to appreciate the author’s point. As a minor technical point, and one that may be somewhat controversial, the non-binary protagonist is always referred to with non-standard pronouns. These occur quite frequently in the text, and readers not used to them may find them somewhat distracting.

Victoria Silverwolf has read Lud-in-the-Mist.