(Unsung Stories, September 2014)
[Editor’s Note: This is the second of two reviews of “The Beauty.” The first review by Charles Payseur appears here.]
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
Unsung Stories is a new small press that specializes in weird fiction. “The Beauty” by Aliya Whiteley is one of their first publications, a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy. Nate is the storyteller of a group of men who survived a fungal plague that killed all women in the world. But slowly, Nate discovers that something has taken their place: the Beauty, a group of creatures, part mushroom and part human. One named Bee becomes his lover and the other men start finding creatures to pair with. But this causes tension in the community that’s not easily resolved. The story is wonderfully told, and winds its way into some rather serious matters about sexuality, prejudice, generational conflict, storytelling, and much else. It builds slowly, but becomes an excellent story that is not easily categorized, but is well worth seeking out.