Reckoning 4 is a collection of creative writing like a cry of grief for what we have already lost. But it is also comfort, retribution, and the re-creation of exquisite hybrid forms rarely before imagined. Read on for more about the stories we loved from Reckoning’s 2020 volume.
With our first two books in print or at-the-printer, and our next two on the decks (surprise! book #4 will be announced soon!), we’re looking to the climate and social justice related books we love, reading them backwards in a ring of fire to conjure up more environment-focused submissions for Stelliform Years 3 and beyond. Just kidding, we’re sharing them here so you can get to know us a little better — what we love and what kinds of stories we’ll likely publish in the future.
It’s important to carve out these spaces where the reader can sit for a moment — within a bigger problem always, but for a moment focusing on a small world that the fantastic creates for us. The feelings around climate change are big and oppressive and overwhelming and I’m not entirely interested in recreating that experience in Stelliform books. The world is doing that for us already. Instead, I’ve been delighted to read stories that shape a smaller but still inter-connected experience. Read more about that in this post.
Seanan McGuire’s “Hello, Hello” is a science fiction short story which bridges the gaps between several human and inter-species categories to illustrate that while future technologies will facilitate communication in ways that we cannot now imagine, technology alone is not enough.
N.K. Jemisin’s “The Ones Who Stay and Fight” is the opening story in the author’s short story collection, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month. The story introduces the collection, as does the book’s title, as a work of fundamentally utopian sff.
“The Ones Who Stay and Fight” was written in conversation with “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s own challenge to utopia, published in 1973. “Omelas” has been discussed extensively (a recent article on “Omelas” and its utilitarian implications for our own times can be found here) and this review will side-step a comprehensive comparison of “Omelas” and “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”. Instead, the focus here is on Jemisin’s story, its conception of systemic violence, its implicit sense of justice and hope, and how Jemisin’s vision applies to the fight against climate change.
Osahon Ize-Iyamu’s “More Sea Than Tar” in Reckoning 3 is about a Nigerian family struggling against the currents of modern life in a flooded and slowly disintegrating town. The main character, Uti, must navigate opposing family dynamics in order to find his own way of living.
Tlotlo Tsamaase’s novelette “Eclipse our Sins” is a dense and lyrical story in which a young girl searches for the reason her family members are falling ill in a world in which Mother Earth seeks revenge for a multitude of sins committed against her.
Tsamaase’s future is one in which those effects against the earth are tangible. For example, xenophobic or sexist thoughts emerge into the air as smog, contributing to ecological destabilization. The protagonist, and many others in the story, wears a respirator which protects her from the material effects of anti-social elements; but requiring this protection is a burden on the poor who must not only regularly replace their respirators to survive, but are also dependent on proprietary medicines.
This story from Reckoning Magazine packs a ton of heart and hope into a diminutive novelette. It also packs eldritch horror into the unsuspecting body of a young girl whose family is responsible for the dam and diversion project which dramatically altered the ecosystem of its small-town setting. Lanny Boykin is a shape-shifter; but she is not the only shape-shifter in the story.