Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction:Metaphorosis, Apparition Lit, and Mysterion

Metaphorosis 2/2022
Apparition Lit 1/2022
Mysterion 1-2/2022

I’ve enjoyed every issue of Metaphorosis Magazine that I’ve picked up, and I always regret not getting to all of them. The February issue features two debuts, starting with “Freely Given” by Connor Mellegers. In Jean and Ev’s society, giving larger gifts grants you vastly increased social status, while laboring for wages is looked down upon. Joan sets up Ev to get false credit for an enormously lavish gift, catapulting him into the top tier of their small society, which he initially revels in. How can Ev repay a gift from someone who is so invested in undermining the gift-based economy? The setup is convoluted but intriguing. Next Thomas Ouphe brings us “The Diary of Thisne Ome”, which also looks at younger members of a small society. Here Thisne lives in a world where setin river monsters can sometimes attack people and even transform them. Her diary is full of small town/school-based jealousies and rivalries, but her fascination with the setin is leading her in a dangerous direction. This story mixes light and dark aspects quite effectively. Another story I enjoyed was “A Lie in the Sand” by Devin Miller. This is a sweet story about an ap­prentice bard given the task of getting back to her ship on the other side of a magical sand castle city. The situation brings back many of her insecurities about outsiderness, so how can she overcome both the physical and emotional obstacles to win through?

Under guest editor Lauren Ring, Apparition Lit in January also introduces two new voices. The stories in the issue as a whole are anything but straight­forward, and “The Goblins of South India” by Naethan Pais is no exception. Told in the second person, “you” are a woman living in a magical India where goblins and other mystical creatures are real. Your sister Ásta is cursed and isolated by disease. You care for her after your mothers pass on, but finding a way for both of you to escape her isola­tion may require those goblins. In “Silver Bells” by Jaime Marvin, Laura has banished herself to a dimension where it’s always almost Christmas, a self-punishment after her cousin Kathy (with a K) got sucked into a vortex. She blames herself and is stuck in that liminal state of waiting. What or who will be able to get her un-stuck? I’d also like to highlight “She Calls” by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas. A young woman in Mexico is enthralled by a green-haired girl with intense black eyes, who may be an incarnation of Chalchiuhtlicue, a water goddess. The narrator has a strange relationship with water, having almost drowned as a child, and that combination of desire and fear permeates the narrative.

Mysterion, publishing speculative fiction that “meaningfully engages with Christianity,” is always interesting to drop in on. In the January/February issue we get “The Gift of Tongues” by Annaliese Lemmon where a young woman who can communi­cate with animals is having trouble learning Spanish for her upcoming mission. She’s visited by a magical creature offering the choice of Solomon, to trade her current gift for some other ability, permanently. She’s a bit wiser than many would be when facing such an offer. In “The Remnant” by Cathy Smith, Ginny is the transhuman android that Virg created to care for her son with Down Syndrome after her passing. At David’s funeral Ginny is faced with choices about her future in the absence of her original purpose, look­ing at the remnant of “normal” humans who fill her church and people who have fully digitally uploaded, like her friend Rodger. It’s an interesting perspective. Lastly, new author Marshall J. Moore brings us an alt-history USA in “Moral Panic 1986” where the FBI is investigating a family because one of the kids was found with a Christian pamphlet at school. The power structure inversion is nicely creepy, although I felt unsatisfied by the ending.


Recommended Stories

“A Lie in the Sand”, Devin Miller (Metaphorosis 2/22)
“The Remnant”, Cathy Smith (Mysterion 1-2/22)

Karen Burnham is an electromagnetics engineer by way of vocation, and a book reviewer/critic by way of avocation. She has worked on NASA projects including the Dream Chaser spacecraft and currently works in the automotive industry in Michigan. She has reviewed for venues such as Locus Magazine, NYRSF, Strange Horizons, SFSignal.com, and Cascadia Subduction Zone. She has produced podcasts for Locusmag.com and SFSignal.com, especially SF Crossing the Gulf with Karen Lord. Her book on Greg Egan came out from University of Illinois Press in 2014, and she has twice been nominated in the Best Non-Fiction category of the British SF Awards.

This review and more like it in the April 2022 issue of Locus.

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