Rich Horton Reviews City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro and The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald

City of a Thousand Feelings, Anya Johanna DeNiro (Aqueduct) February 2020.

Another entry in Aqueduct Press’s long and always challenging Conversation Pieces series. This is a novelette, City of a Thousand Feelings by Anya Johanna DeNiro, a trans woman whose work I’ve long liked and have missed. This story doesn’t quite work for me, but it’s fascinating and well written, with some spectacular imagery. It’s opens with two trans women, part of a group planning an assault on the title City, which has excluded them. The assault fails, and years later we meet the main character again, who has become a sorceress in a tower, and who is reluctantly lured back to the struggle against the City by her former lover, whom she thought dead. The sword-and-sorcery flavored ideas here are wonderful, but for me the story itself never quite coheres. But it remains a work worth reading and thinking about.

The Menace from Farside, Ian McDonald ( Publishing) November 2019.

A lovely and very fun novella that was published late last year. Ian McDonald’s The Menace from Farside is, as the overt Heinlein reference might suggest, a YA-ish piece, set on the same Luna as McDonald’s Luna novels. The story is told by a teenaged girl named Cariad Corcoran, who is talking to a robot therapist. (This reminded me of John Barnes’s great novel The Sky so Big and Black!) Cariad, we learn, was much distressed by upheavals in her bio-mother’s “ring marriage” (another Heinleinesque touch), which led to her get­ting, all unexpected, a new “sister,” Sidibe Sisay, who is, apparently, glamorous as all get out. And can fly! (Yes – Heinlein!) So Cariad comes up with a plan to reassert her place in the family – an expedition, with Sidibe and with her other “siblings” Jair and Kobe, to the site of Neil Armstrong’s first footprint. All this is cool and exciting – until things go pear-shaped. I loved Cariad’s voice, I loved her manifest imperfec­tions, I loved the in-cluing of social differences in this society, and I loved the thrilling adventure. One of the best novellas of 2019, for sure.

Rich Horton works for a major aerospace company in St. Louis MO. He has published over a dozen anthologies, including the yearly series The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy from Prime Books, and he is the Reprint Editor for Lightspeed Magazine. He contributes articles and reviews on SF and SF history to numerous publications.

This review and more like it in the April 2020 issue of Locus.

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