Four reviews this week:

Fiction

The 4:15 Appointment” by Rafeeat Aliyu (Omenana)

November 2014; 5,200 words. A fascinating story that combines a fantastical element with more mundane commentary on class. As Taiye massages her client Lila, her hands go through Lila’s flesh, setting off a chain of events. Taiye comes to know Lila, her powers, and the world she’s involved in. Aliyu reveals and withholds informational strategically; I found myself barreling to the end of the story because I was so keen to find out what was happening. What a powerful opening to Omenana‘s first issue; I plan to read more in the future.

You, an Accidental Astronaut” by Sonja Natasha (Mothership Zeta)

February 2016; 1,000 words. A gorgeous flash piece full of fantastic lines: They strap an hour’s worth of oxygen to your back. It’s not murder if you have a chance, even if it’s one in a million. And perhaps my favorite paragraph, though the next one comes close too:

You’re extraterrestrial and extradimensional, and you think you’ve got this celestial thing down when you’re gilded in gold from another sun, when you walk on water gelled together from the force of a planetary spin, when you’re all alone in the pilot seat, and you’re still thinking about that girl you used to know, and you’re like goddamn.

I can’t say enough how much I loved this piece. It tumbles over itself in this great rhythm that echoes the narrator’s emotional state; it’s full of all the wonder of the universe while simultaneously being an intimate story about love and the fear we face when we’re vulnerable with another person. Sonja Natasha’s debut pro piece leaves me yearning for more, and I hope to see more from them soon.

Nonfiction

Hatoful Boyfriend Is the Greatest Pigeon Dating Sim in the History of Human and/or Bird Existence” by Sunil Patel (Mothership Zeta)

February 2016; approximately 1,000 words. I tweeted my appreciation for this piece, but I think it deserves a longer review, too. I’ve written long-form reviews before (cf. the nonfiction section of my bibliography) but I have to say that none of my reviews has ever opened as strongly as this review. Patel guides us through imagining ourselves as a teenage Japanese girl attending a school full of birds, and in doing so immerses us right off the bat in the world of Hatoful Boyfriend. The conversational tone of the review is so great for selling us on the game, and I found myself smiling and going “oh my god” through the whole piece. Excellent piece of review writing. (I swear I’ll review one of Sunil Patel’s actual works of fiction at some point too.)

Too many songs about love, not enough about friendship?” by Alom Shaha

September 2013; 1,200 words. On Valentine’s Day, and as Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week begins, it’s important to read articles that remind us that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love out there. Shaha points out that there aren’t many happy songs about friendship in the anglophone pop music world, and that so much of our media shoes in romantic love seemingly for the sake of it. Yet platonic love is just as fulfilling, if not more fulfilling than romantic love, as I also talked about in my post “All Is Full of Love.” Wonderful post, and the aside at the end about humanism is lovely, especially to an atheist agnostic like myself.