Reviewed by Kris Rudin
“For Lost Time” by Therese Arkenberg is an atmospheric fantasy that reminded me a bit of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, in that the magic involved is organic and not like what one sees in Tolkien-esque or Harry Potter-like stories. It’s quite refreshing to read an original fantasy that doesn’t fall back on the usual tropes. The story is set on an unnamed world, where some sort of catastrophe has decimated the major cities. People have become exiles and have created new cities, but most still long for their old cities. Aniver is one of those, and since he is a wizard, he has a plan to restore the cities, but it involves meeting up with the Queen of the Dead. Arkenberg does a masterful job of setting up the culture, and the journey to the Land of the Dead is appropriately dangerous and costly. The whole story felt somewhat dreamlike and unworldly. Kudos to Arkenberg for her originality and deft hand at creating such a mystical story.
“Day of the Dragonfly” by Raphael Ordoñez is a familiar tale, but set on a very different world. It is basically the tale of a knight-errant on a quest to save a beautiful princess from the clutches of an evil dragon, but this is not the world of Medieval England, and the knight-errant is not a high-born nobleman. In this story, the Dragonfly of the title is our knight, and he is a low-born aboriginal. The sister of the damsel in distress, Yani, sets out to hire Dragonfly for the quest. The first half of the story is their adventures in just getting back to Yani’s land, and then the story concludes with the epic dragon battle. What sets this story apart is the world in which it takes place. There are hints of Blade Runner (a rain-soaked city, a noodle shop) and a little bit of Mad Max (without the cars) with roving gangs of thugs. The world is very imaginative and original, which helps somewhat to make up for the well-worn plot and obvious ending.