Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel

Julian K. Jarboe
Completed 10/26/2021, Reviewed 10/26/2021
4 stars

This is a collection of short fiction and poetry which won the Lambda Literary Award for Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror for 2021.  The works are beautifully written, but I didn’t get most of them.  It’s the kind of literary work that I would need to study and discuss in some kind of group setting to really understand.  I did get themes of freedom, loss, alienation, and discrimination.  I loved reading it because the word choices and descriptions were marvelous.  But most of the time, I wasn’t really sure what I just read.  There isn’t a lot of plot.  It’s more like feelings and experiences. 

The stories in the book range from urban fantasy to body-horror to light sci fi.  I think the publisher’s blurb says it best: “body-horror fairy tales and mid-apocalyptic Catholic cyberpunk, memory and myth, loss and age”.  The following are some of the stories I found interesting and worthy of note:

The Marks of Aegis – a very short piece about relieving one’s negative emotions and actions

Self Care – A trans man joins a church support group and stays in its shelter in return for doing chores.  It takes place in a coastal city being drowned by the rising sea level.

The Seed and the Stone – When people die, their ashes are used to fertilize fruit trees.  This story felt like the author built a whole world in a short piece, creating a mythology of life and death and keeping the ancestors present.

Estranged Children of Story book Houses – A Changeling grows up in a human family that basically hates her and longs for their own child who was taken by the faeries.  When she becomes an adult, she goes looking for the land of Fae for that child.

Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel – The title story, it’s about Sebastian and his dysfunctional family.  His oldest sister tries to discuss their mother’s abuse with Sebastian and the middle brother Oscar, but they don’t see it.  Because he feels like he has no future and is not worth anything, he decides to take a job on the moon.

I Am a Beautiful Bug! – Sort of a meta-riff on Kafka.  A person gets a surgery to become a bug.  They face abuse and discrimination.  

I give this book four stars out of five.  It’s clearly an amazingly written collection.  I just wish I could see deeper into the stories and could appreciate beyond the prose.  

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