Review: “GlitterShip Year Two,” ed. Keffy R.M. Kehrli

Pros: Delightful queer anthology of many genres
Cons: The typical anthology issue of not every story being for every reader
Rating: 4 out of 5

Keffy R.M. Kehrli edits the anthology GlitterShip Year Two (GlitterShip Yearly Anthologies), containing more than 30 queer short stories and poems. Like most anthologies, some stories will suit certain readers and others won’t (it’s rare to have an editor’s tastes line up perfectly with your own–that’s just the nature of the beast). That’s a lot of stories, so I’ll just touch on a few that left strong impressions. I won’t comment on the poetry–I enjoy poetry, but I just don’t know what to say about it. I will say that I liked the poems in here, and didn’t think there were too many.

There’s a fantasy world in here in which once you cast four spells, you die, because you power your spells with pieces of your soul (Sebastian Strange’s The Last Spell of the Raven). Love that concept! There’s an AI that learns to grieve (Susan Jane Bigelow’s Mercy). Terraforming bugs on a planet that’s being re-made for settlement are the key when Gordon and Henry run into bad guys who threaten their lives and livelihoods (Nicole Kimberling’s Oh, Give Me a Home). I particularly liked a story of the apocalypse as caused by massive water-vapor-sucking aliens in the atmosphere–it focuses on one person’s reaction to realizing the end is coming, and it’s lovely (JY Yang’s The Slow Ones). Bennett North’s Smooth Stones and Empty Bones is a heartfelt story about two young women in love, one of whose mother is a witch.

Tonight after work I’m going to show my girlfriend how to raise the dead.

In one tale, a person takes shelter in a town where the death bell rings before anyone dies–only to have it ring that night (Amy Griswold’s The Passing Bell). I loved Cat Rambo’s The Subtler Art, in which lovers The Dark (a retired assassin) and Tericatus (a wizard) make a bet as to whose art is subtler. It’s absolutely delightful. One story stars a super-villain, Vanessa, as she falls for a young woman, Elle. The end is predictable, but I found that didn’t matter because it was so lovely; I wanted more of this story (Agatha Tan’s For She Is the Stars and the Sun Revolves around Her). There’s a story with super-capable people, and Syl has only tiny powers so far. This story gave me a little bit of a sniffle (Robin M. Eames’s The Little Dream).

Technically it’s laser vision, but Brian calls it her toast vision, because it isn’t good for much else.

In Jennifer Lee Rossman’s Do-Overs, a time traveler tries again and again to woo the woman of her dreams, with mixed results. Very charming! I’ve read A.C. Buchanan’s A Spell to Signal Home before and I still really enjoyed it. A diplomat’s ship crashes on a secret planet. I wish this was the start to a novel. There’s a wonderful story about a clockwork queen and her bizarre little kingdom that I love. It’s told in a number of parts with a ‘lesson’ at the end of each one, and the absurdity and hilarity of the lessons really add to this charming tale (Megan Arkenberg’s Lessons from a Clockwork Queen).

The queerness of the stories comes in different measures and types. Some stories focus on a character’s gender identity or a non-heterosexual relationship. Others just have queer characters–some human, some not–existing in their worlds. All in all I really liked how it was handled. There’s also at least one disabled character (fibromyalgia).

A few stories are a bit surreal, and those aren’t my favorite kinds of stories. Maybe I’m just dull, but I like to be able to explicitly comprehend the stories I read. I enjoy many emotional reactions to the stories I read, but confusion isn’t one of them. Luckily this was only the case in a handful of stories. I found most of the tales in here to be utterly charming.

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