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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Shimmer #27, September/October 2015

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Shimmer #27, September/October 2015

“Dustbaby” by Alix E. Harrow

“A July Story” by K. L. Owens
“Black Planet” by Stephen Case
“The Law of the Conservation of Hair” by Rachael K. Jones

Reviewed by Kris Rudin

“Dustbaby” by Alix E. Harrow takes place during the dust bowl era of the American Midwest. But Harrow has another, weirder take on its cause. The story follows a young widow who has lost bother her baby and her husband. When she finds a newborn in the middle of her field one day, she begins to understand what is really happening. The story is told with moody, expressive prose, almost giving life to the dust and the wind–very appropriately.

“A July Story” by K. L. Owens is about a man named Kitten, and the house in which he lives, or more accurately, in which he is held captive. The house is a portal to other times and locales, and every few Julys the house stops somewhere and lets him out for the month. This story takes place in a current-time July, where Kitten finds himself on the Oregon coast. Owens does a nice job of teasing the reader as to what is happening, and developing the friendship between Kitten and a young girl from town. The ending was well done, though some questions are still not quite answered.

“Black Planet” by Stephen Case is the story of Em, a teenage girl who finds a black planet hovering above her bed one night. Somehow, she manages to go to the planet, where she explores its dark, gloomy surface. She confides in her nerdy best friend, and the two of them try to discover what it all means. Of course, like all good stories, there’s more to it than this. It’s a story about loss, grief, and friendship.

“The Law of the Conservation of Hair” by Rachael K. Jones is told in the style of a list of scientific findings or precepts. It is a love story, a space-travel story, and an alien contact story all rolled into one. The ability of Jones to tell a good story in this manner is quite impressive. At first, I found it to be just sort of cute, but the more I read, the more I liked it and the more I appreciated Jones’ talent. It is quite clever, and an original way to tell a story.