My second month of reading GigaNotoSaurus keeps things Earth-bound but, a bit like last month's piece, an Earth that is much different from the one we live in. Where steam technology is ascendant and humans are not necessarily alone as the most advanced beings on the planet. The story is compelling and fun and definitely makes me glad that I've started reading and reviewing the publication, which continues to be exceptional!
"The Scrape of Tooth and Bone" by Ada Hoffmann (8783 words)
This is a quite interesting steam fantasy set in an alternate Earth past with a queer non-neurotypical woman out on an archeological dig. And yeah, if that sentence doesn't convince you that it's a story well worth reading, you obviously have different tastes than me. Because it's great. The story just does a great job of really fleshing out the world and making Lilian, the main character, deep and layered and compelling. There's elements of spirituality and communication with ghosts and the past at the same time there's more science and technological aspects that ground the story more to our own past. Of course, there are also dinosaurs and plots and a sweet romance and really, yeah, a lot going on. I quite enjoy the stories choice to make Lilian something of a double agent, something that's established early on and complicated deliciously later in the story. The way in Lilian is both kind of unreliable and yet entirely genuine is charming and endearing and gets across a nice sense of danger and adventure and wonder. She sees the world a bit differently than people, and that different perspective is quite fun.
[OKAY SPOILERS FROM HERE SO YOU ARE WARNED] And I loved the way that the story builds its twist. I said earlier that Lilian makes a sort-of unreliable narrator, and that's because she's less able to pick up on someone lying to her. And yet she is morally righteous and trying constantly to do the right thing. And is shows just how terrible people can be to try and use her, in more casual ways like assigning her extra chores or in more insidious ways like getting her to almost be an accessory to multiple murders. It also shows how much distrust and jadedness exist in most people, people who would then be unable to trust the (adorable!) evolved dinosaurs who arrive only because Lilian decided to trust them. And everything about the story is so much fun, from the budding relationship between Lilian and Hattie to the action when the enemy steamsuit shows up to the way the story builds a spirit world hovering about our own. The setting is vivid and fun and I want more of it, and the characters are cute and endearing and it works. Definitely go give this one a look!