I'm looking at two stories from this month's Glittership. There were three originally on the schedule (I think), but the third story (which doesn't seem out yet) they're running is a reprint of a story that I've already reviewed, R.B. Lemberg's "How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War." It is still amazing. If you want to check out my original review, it can be found here. That still leaves an original story and a different reprint to tackle, though, and they are delightful, filled with monsters and villains and humanity, food and taste and hunger. These are stories that offer nicely complex flavors that deepen the more you peel away their layers. They're fun and it's powerful and I should just review them already!
"for she is the stars, and the sun revolves around her" by Agatha Tan (2996 words)
This is an adorable story about two women finding each other and finding in each other something that they both need, all while not being entirely honest about who they are and what they do. For the main character, Vanessa, life is a series of stresses because there’s someone constantly running around and causing her trouble. In need of a distraction, of something good in her life, she strikes up a relationship with a women she met at a cafe, Elle. What follows is cute and fun and also a nice lesson on not giving the reader the entire story. The piece does a great job with twisting genre expectations, though, developing this story centered on the relationship between these two women and Vanessa’s surprise that they aren’t exploding apart and the slowly dawning realization of what Vanessa does. [SPOILERS] The setting is carefully and slowly revealed, showing that superheroes and villains exist in a sort of balance. And I like that here the “villains” aren’t necessarily bad people. Or, well, they are, but there’s a core of humanity to them, and in some ways it seems that they do things knowing that they will be thwarted. That however much they like trying to destroy Australia it’s really not their goal. That they like the game, the level of play, the hope that maybe there will be more. And for Vanessa I think the story does a great job of showing how she’s looking for something and maybe finding it in Elle but how that blows up in her face. How lying and hiding from the difficult situations in her life is doing her no favors. And the ending is equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, because while it carries a certain doomed finality it also shows that the relationship between these people is deep and it won’t necessarily fizzle out that easily. At least, I hope that their stories continue, and that they can find some measure of happiness. It’s a wonderful read!
"Cooking with Closed Mouths" by Kerry Truong (4500 words)
Okay, so I like SFF stories about cooking, so this piece is a special treat for me, a tale about a nine-tailed fox in human form and their vampire ward living in America and trying to make things work. It's a story that takes a very interesting and nuanced approach to humanity and difference, taste and sight. For both Ha Neul, the fox, and Hana, the vampire, humanity is something they're removed from. They are predators now, designed in many ways to feed on human flesh and blood. But there's more to them than that, and wrapped in the tragedy of Hana's victimization and Neul's desire to understand humanity, their story becomes one of being alien, of trying to fit in through mimicry. Which is further complicated, then, by Neul being nonbinary and possibly acearo, not "fitting in" along those lines as well. Viewed through that lens, hunger and taste take on deep and fascinating layers, and I love that the story complicates itself in that way. That Neul worries that they are missing out on something because they don't taste, because their hunger is so different from the people around them. And yet they can still make friendships and a family with Hana, can still learn new things and be curious, something that is typically posited as central to humanity. Basically, I love how the story shows how, in some ways, Neul and Hana are _more_ human because of their differences. That these are not lacks so much as they are aspects of who they are.
And it's a cute story on top of all that, about Neul trying to learn how to cook without having taste, how they are able to get better in order to do something nice for Hana, and how even then things don't end quite the way people wanted or expected. It's a tender and lovely story about found family and about the desire to fit in. It's a story very much about the different kinds of hunger and taste, and just because a person doesn't have a certain kind, that doesn't make them inhuman really. It doesn't make them a monster. It's a great read and you should definitely check it out!