“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim
Review by Michelle Ristuccia
In “Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim, wind-up toys live out their lives according to the number of turns the maker gives them each day; more turns of their key means more energy before they wind down, no longer able to move. Narrator Zee recognizes the advantage of her tightly wound spring, which allows her to visit the circus and interact with interesting characters while her father cares for grandma and grandpa. Deciding to join the circus is easy; caring for others with her extra turns is harder. A touching life-story centered around the idea of disability and the selfless work of caregivers, Yoachim describes well what it is like to have fewer spare “turns” than those around you.
In “A Place to Grow” by A. T. Greenblatt, Lillian stands up to her uncles as they disassemble their latest creation, another glass-bottle world forcing order against the terrifying vacuum of nothingness. Like the long line of attempted worlds that came before, this one fails to satisfy their longing for their original home. Lillian and the other villagers, unburdened by bittersweet memories of the uncles’ home and Lillian’s deceased mother, are tired of trading one world for another, but it is up to Lillian, who has inherited her uncles’ world-making talents, to break the cycle without sending them all into the void. This is surreal cross-genre fiction that strikes at the heart of loss and the struggle against the void.
Michelle Ristuccia enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to read and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best inspiration and motivation. You can find out more about her other writing projects and geeky obsessions by visiting her blog.