Monday, January 26, 2015

Quick Sips - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #165

Just when I thought maybe I was all caught up, Beneath Ceaseless Skies came along and reminded me that it comes out twice a month. So two new stories! And this issue is much more standard with its story lengths than last time. Two novelettes just waiting to be read. They both end up being about a pair, a man and a woman, traveling together. I rather prefer the depiction in "For Lost Time," but both are interesting in their own right. Let's go!


"For Lost Time" by Therese Arkenberg (7638 words)

It's not every day that you read a story with an asexual main character, but I feel that this character did a nice job with Aniver, who is traveling with Semira to try and bring back the cities of Aniver's homeland that have become lost in Time. Aniver is driven, perhaps a bit desperate, and definitely cares for Semira, but there is nothing sexual about their relationship. He's simply not interested in sex. Which is great. The only part that I could see as being maybe a little...well, a reason I would hesitate to endorse it fully is because there might be the implication that he was sexual and used that part of himself in his magic. Now, it sounds like he's always not been interested, but going off of how the magic in this story works, it's not for-sure for me. Still, it's a nice story about trying to recover something that is lost, and the strength and power of friendship. I like that, like that Aniver and Semira are so close and can stick by each other through so much. I like that Semira is taking on this task because it's right and not because it's her home that was lost. All around it's just a good story, with enough action and magic (Aniver's confrontation with a GIANT DEATH ON HER THRONE) to keep things moving right along. The "ending" of the quest isn't shown, but in some ways a very important part is already over. They choose to go on, and that choice is what defines them. Solid work.

"Day of the Dragonfly by Raphael Ordoñez (9737 words)

Even longer than the other story, this one takes place in an even bleaker setting, one that is dirty and that seems overrun by strange creatures and gods and cults. It's told a bit like a fable. A young woman, Yuni, goes in search of a man named the Dragonfly, who turns out to be the last of his people, a young man named Keftu. She needs him to save her sister from a giant worm that came from the moon. If he succeeds, he will get to marry said sister. It's a fairly standard setup, but the setting is interesting. Yuni turns out to be the sort who constantly gets him in trouble either to deal with her own growing feelings for him or, more likely, to toughen him up so that he can save her sister. The action is fast and violent and well done, and the visuals are interesting. The resolution and the ending didn't come as a surprise, but for someone looking for a male adventure story then this is a solid effort. Perhaps not really to my tastes, it does everything it sets out to do with skill, and is a fun enough read.


  1. Thank you for the thoughtful review, Charles!

    Insofar as Word of God(dess) confirms anything (and I understand if it doesn't, though this is the canon I'll be working from in further stories with these characters), Aniver has always been asexual. When he says appealing partners have "so far, proven utterly elusive," it's intended to suggest he's been looking for much longer than his quest for Nurathaipolis, or indeed his practice of magic in general. While making him the ace character of the pair does fall into some cliches (we aces are often viewed as the super-studious kind who have channeled our 'energies' elsewhere), I really liked letting Semira go out and have a good time with a man who isn't the story's designated hero, which is also something female characters rarely get to do.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up! I was leaning that way, but having not read the other stories with Aniver (at least I thought I saw links to other Aniver stories at BCS) I didn't want to assume. So thank you! And I did like that Semira was out enjoying herself and there was no guilt/shaming going on. It was a fun story. Thanks again!