I love when I get a review request. I’ve discovered some amazing books and authors this way, and it’s always a thrill to see a request arrive in my inbox.
Life has some amazing coincidences. I recently heard about Planet Scumm, and was considering submitting to them, when I got a request to review their latest issue, #11: Snake Eyes. Naturally I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love science fiction and fantasy short stories, but this issue was put together by a guest editorial team helmed by Hailey Piper.
The issue is beautifully produced with wonderful illustrations for each story.
The magazine starts with a humorous editorial (or transmission from Scummy), followed by the author bios.
The first story in this issue is A Defiance of Violins by Ana Gardner. Set in a dystopian future controlled by The Order, rebels can earn money to re-enter society by becoming guinea pigs for experimental new technology.
The story is well written and engaging and, while I found it covered some familiar territory, I particularly liked the descriptions of the technology and the physical side effects it produced in the main character.
Next up is The Hollow Stars in Heaven by Avery Kit Malone. If you’ve ever wanted to read a monster romance set in a Lovecraftian universe, this is the story for you.
I would classify the third story, Hivemind by LC Von Hessen, as weird fiction. Set in a world very similar to our own, the construction of a strange new building looms as a doom filled analogy for our obsession with technology. This story is so well written that I found it very immersive and visceral, and I think it would be a great starting point for the discussion on the theme.
The Secret of Theta Pi by Stephanie Gray is a clever, and emotional, story about love and support among sorority sisters. While I personally prefer stories that touch on body horror to focus on the victim, I thought the group of caring characters trying to help their friend were well drawn, and I liked the subtle references to their own horrors.
The Long Sleep by Diana Fenves presents a dark future where people spend most of the year in suspended animation. I enjoyed the point of view of the child main character, but I got hung up on the feasibility of the suspended animation company’s business model (this is not a reflection on the story, merely how I tend to obsess over little things).
My favorite story in this issue is Real Sugar is Hard to Find by Sim Kern. It covers a lot in this deceptively simple story of a mother and son searching for ingredients to make a birthday cake. I loved that it discussed mental illness, and I cringed along with the main character at his overly chatty mother (gave me flashbacks). I’m so impressed that despite touching on some heavy subjects, the author managed to keep the story delicious, upbeat and sweet.
A close second place for my favorite story is Ma Dresden by Laura Barker. Set in a dystopian world that I want to know more about, this is a wonderful fairy tale about a woman with scary eyes.
The final story is An Eventual Feast by Lindsay King-Miller, which manages to convey a taut, thriller like atmosphere in the story of the first birth on a spaceship.
The magazine is rounded out with a fun caption contest and the bios of the guest editorial team.
My first time reading Planet Scumm, but it won’t be my last. I look forward to catching up with its back catalogue and reading future issues.
I award Planet Scumm #11: Snake Eyes…