Space unicorns, they did it! Uncanny was Kickstarted earlier this year.
The opening story is by Maria Dahvana Headley – “If You were a Tiger, I’d have to Wear White” – and I thought it was weird and clever and, indeed, uncanny while reading it and then I discovered just how much of it is true. It’s a reporter going to Jungleland (real) to interview the MGM lion (who really lived there, but probably not in a smoking jacket) and who ends up talking to Mabel Stark, the tiger tamer (real). Love and loss and memory; commercialism, culture and the crass.
Ken Liu’s “Presence” is sad and sweet and uncomfortable-making. One of those lovely sf pieces that brings together awesome tech with very real human stories.
“Late Nights at the Cape and Cane,” from Max Gladstone, isn’t really my thing. Nor was “Celia and the Conservation of Entropy” by Amelia Beamer.
Kat Howard’s “Migration” takes a quirky look at the idea of death and rebirth, while Christopher Barzak takes a Peter Pan story I had never heard of and updates it somewhat in “The Boy Who Grew Up.” And the fiction is rounded out by a reprint of a Jay Lake story, “Her Fingers like Whips, her Eyes like Razors” which also does interesting things with death – this time, challenging it, which I can’t help but imagine was inspired by Lake’s own cancer.
There are three poems included – from Neil Gaiman, Amal El-Mohtar, and Sonya Taaffe. I am not a connoisseur of poetry.
Then there’s the non-fiction. I have to say that my one disappointment with this first issue of the magazine is that there wasn’t more non-fiction, which I thought was going to be a bit of a Thing. Anyway, Sarah Kuhn talks by way of cosplaying as Sailor Mars about the reception of geeky women in fan spaces over the last few years, which felt like a round-up of some of the issues for people who haven’t been following it all closely. I did enjoy the discussion of becoming more and more involved in the Sailor fandom. Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Does Sex mark Science Fiction ‘Soft’?” never answers its own question but does discuss the ways in which some in the sf scene have tried to banish stories with Too Much Sex/Kissing/Whatever out of sf… although they wouldn’t be accepted by romance immediately anyway. And Christopher J Garcia’s “The Ten Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Shorts on the Web” is a really great sort of article to include in a magazine like this and indeed makes its online nature an absolute positive. So too does the fact that the interview with Headley (there are interviews with Barzak and about Lake too) contains links to pictures of Stark. Overall this is a positive start to the magazine and I look forward to more.