NOTE: This will be a recurring note that will run with every Quick Sips. First, please note that I don’t necessarily mention every story or poem out in an issue. I am giving myself permission to either DNF stories, or else finish and just not comment on them. Please don’t assume it’s because I disliked the work! There are many reasons I might chose not to comment on a piece, and I reserve the right to do just that. Second, you might notice the notations at the end of the micro reviews and wonder what the [c# t#] is. These are for the Scales of Relative Grimness and a full explanation of them can be found through the tab at the top of the page or through this link. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!
Reckoning 5 (15 short stories, 1 novelette, 10 poems total)
- “Salvage Song” by Julia DaSilva (poem) - This piece speaks to me of a kind of...repurposing. A salvaging, as the title suggests, where at the end of things the narrator speaks not really of endings, but of finding ways still to craft new from old, to find new combinations of old words, old things, old loves, to find something still vibrant and defiant and fresh. A great read and opening to an anthology that is a collection of prose and poetry, old words strung together in new ways.
- “From Melismas” by Marlon Hacla, translated by Krinstine Ong Muslim (poem) - This piece carries for me a sense of yearning, a sense of a narrator seeing the world, the damage being done, and wanting a way for people to understand, for people to see. Wanting to believe in the magic of words but seeing also how they fail, how they haven’t saved the world yet, surely, and how that leaves this great chasm of desire, dread, and hope. A great read!
- “No More Creepy Crawlies” by Anthony Pearce (short story) - This story tracks the death of the dirt itself, the death of the bugs, the death of the creepy crawlies that make the soil a living thing. Set in Sydney, Australia, the narrator is a witness, chronicling a decline, a loss, a damage that is spreading like a bruise. It borders on a more non-fiction piece, personal and damning all at once, and it’s a fine read! Soil, Bugs, Suburbia, Environments. CW- Extinction, Climate Change, Ecological Damage. [c2 t4]
- “The Wild Inside” by Angela Penrose (short story) - A story of a man in a situation where the greatest enemy is Wildness, where every plant has to be rooted out of a concrete-encased sanctuary, but where the children often find ways to rebel. It’s a creeping piece, especially when the reasons for keeping the wild at bay are blurred, when what might be perceived as the real danger might be more like a kind of freedom. A great read! Plants, Communities, Queer MC, Family, Malls. CW- Abuse/Physical Abuse of a Child, Infestations, Post-Apocalypse. [c3 t4]
- “you said, ‘they’re making the ground soft’” by Christy Jones (poem) - This piece speaks to me of the loss that comes with impositions, limiting those who can do something others cannot. Forcing them to live by rules that don’t recognize the ways they are different, the ways they might need to live differently. And for me it’s a bit of a heartbreaking read in that, lovely and powerful and sharp all at once. Definitely a poem to spend some time with!
- “On the Destruction and Restoration of Habitats” by Priya Chand (short story) - Another rather non-fiction feeling piece, this one about a person who goes out to root up invasive species, who cuts down trees, does their best to reclaim a bit for native species, though the result, like the methods, are imperfect. It makes for a fascinating and moving read. Trees, Invasive Species, Environments, Plants. [c1 t3]
- “Owl Prowl” by Maya Chhabra (poem) - A really sweet poem that finds the narrator and their partner out in the snowy woods looking for owls. I love the way the poem sets up the narrator’s more indoor lean, how this is all new, but also how they’re open to it, finding joy in sharing this new experience, and beauty in the world their partner introduces them to.
- “Riverine” by Danielle Jorgenson Murray (short story) - A touching and yearning story of a woman kinda sorta married off to a river being for the sins of her father, having to navigate rules she doesn’t understand and a husband she’s not really sure what to think about. It’s careful and it’s slightly creepy but ultimately for me it’s a heartwarming look at care, at two people learning about each other. Rivers, Bargains, Family, Marriage, Transformations. CW- Arranged Marriage. [c2 t4]
- “From the Embassy of Leaks to the Court of Cracks” by Catherine Rockwood (poem) - A strange piece that from the title and the text seems to be about two populations of quasi-ethereal things wanting to band together. Wanting to stop sneaking around and taking from each other, in order to share secrets, in order to express love and subvert the system they might be tired of. It’s certainly a piece worth spending some time with, and for me it’s a fun read!
- “You Cannot Return to the Burning Glade” by Eileen Gunnell Lee (short story) - A rather devastating story of loss, of the burning of the natural world, and a narrator bereft, having to face that alone now, though still armed with memories of their time with their partner. A deep and touching read that explores grief and hope, damage of all kinds, and doesn’t flinch from some incredibly difficult situations. Fires, Trails, Cameras, Animals, Birds. CW- Death of a Partner/Suicide, Climate Change, Mercy Killing of Animals. [c4 t4]
- “Facing Medusas” by Liv Kane (short story) - A piece about a woman, a storyteller, drawn toward space, toward the sea, toward a weightlessness that got her into trouble once, that almost killed her, but that didn’t kill her drive to explore, to float, to push into new directions. It’s a bracing and for me hopeful story about daring and adventure, about the strange places between the human world and beyond, and pushing into that space. Wonderfully told! Seas, Jellyfish, Space, Stories, Family. CW- Death of a Grandparent, Animal Stings/Attacks, Poison. [c3 t3]
- “Ash and Scar” by S. L. Harris (short story) - Another wrenching story, this one about health, healthcare, and a tree that might have saved the narrator’s life. For me, the story is about the work of health, especially for those with conditions that can’t be cured, that must be managed, and the weight but also the worth of doing that, for the people are always worth the time and effort, even if our society doesn’t assign them that value. A great read! Trees, Healthcare, School, Family, Insects. CW- Infestations, Chronic Illnesses. [c3 t3]
- “Ginko Biloba” by Riley Tao (short story) - Told from the point of view of the titular tree, this story is about cycles, about people, about life and death and the nature and nurture of it. The joy and the sorrow and sense of time that comes from stepping back and looking at time in millennia. Never dulling fully the acute and lasting impact of individuals, of each new beginning. A lovely read! Trees, Family, Communities, Disasters, Cycles. CW- Death/Catastrophe. [c3 t3]
- “A Song Born” by Remi Skytterstad (novelette) - A touching piece about a boy learning about the erased history of his people, the buried culture, and coming alive with the magic and the power of it. Nicely paced and plotted, it’s a bit grim at times but also alive with music and lights and a warmth despite the cold winter it unfolds in. A wonderful read! Snow, Winter, Reindeer, Family, Music, Religion. CW- Colonialism/Forced Religious Conversion, Murder/Torture, Drowning. [c4 t4]
- “when the coral copies our fashion advice” by Ashley Bao (poem) - A poem as warning, revealing the dire situation with regards to coral bleaching, the reefs dying, the oceans losing something precious. But there’s hope here, of intervention, of healing, or something like it. And I love the language, the feel, the reaching want of the piece. A fantastic read!
- “Wash’ashore Plastics Museum” by Corey Farrenkopf (short story) - A man who run an educational museum with the plastic junk he pulls out of the ocean is at a bit of a loss when he pulls out a bunch of mannequins that have a manufacturer’s mark from a place he can’t find anywhere. It’s a piece tinged with something almost sinister, a growing unease about not just the mannequins but just the weight of all that plastic out there in the water, and what it might be birthing. A great read! Mannequins, Seas, Plastic, Museums, Art. CW- Pollution. [c2 t4]
- “photolinguistics” by Jennifer Mace (poem) - This piece speaks to me of voice and light, the narrator setting up a kind of conversation between planets, between stars, all told with light, reflected and artificial and all together telling something about us, for those who might see and interpret it, at least. A wonderful poem!
- “The Talking Bears of Greikengkul” by Sandy Parsons (short story) - A story that at first seems like it’ll be fun, almost light, but that draws down and down into human trespass against a group of bears, how they were given speech but not really dignity, and where that leaves them and a young woman who has grown her life around these talking bears. Interesting with a chilling end. Bears, Speech, School, Family. CW- Violence/Death, Confinement, Body Modification/Experimentation. [c4 t4]
- “We Have So Little Time Left” by D. Dina Friedman (poem) - Another piece full of warning, showing that a present that doesn’t seem so bad is often used to escape what’s coming, what needs to be done. The piece is pleading and powerful, cutting through the comfort of fantasy to try and confront with the uncomfortable truth of the stakes of climate change. Great stuff!
- “Mummies” by Steve Rasnic Tem (short story) - A story about climate change and the shadow of death, and the feeling that sometimes people hold onto possessions as a way to hold onto life after death. It’s a stark, in some ways almost numbed look at a person facing old age at what might be the end of the world, trying to live, to hold to something, but knowing that it can’t be things. A lovely read! Mummies, Books, Dogs, Family, Possessions. CW- Climate Change, Death, Suicide (mentioned). [c3 t4]
- “All We Have Left Is Ourselves” by Oyedotun Damilola Muess (short story) - A story of a future where hope is a fleeting thing, where disease and danger walk hand in hand with the need to scavenge to stay alive. Amidst that, though, it’s also a heartbreaking story of friendship, art, and resilience in a place twisted, polluted, and corrupted inside and out, where still, somehow, moments of kindness and beauty persist. A wonderful read! Photography, Scavenging, Scrap, Friendship. CW- Sickness/Disease, Death of a Friend, Pollution/Contamination. [c3 t4]
- “Voice of God” by Joseph Hope (poem) - A piece that speaks to me about, well, voice. About faith and silence and interpretation. About hearing God’s voice in sometimes chaotic, sometimes senseless noise. And wondering if it’s more of the pattern that the point, God’s voice echoing in a kind of warning that things are getting too loud, that the world is getting too clogged. Whatever the case, though, it’s a fantastically rendered poem!
- “SPF” by Justine Teu (short story) - A story of a slow and relentless apocalypse as witnessed by a woman not looking to run from it or ignore it. But still having to deal with the day to day tragedy of it. The losses. The deaths and disappointments. The way it keeps circling back to an ex who just wants to stick his head in the sand. Not that anyone, ultimately, can avoid it. A wrenching and powerful read! Cities, Friends, Weddings, Relationships, Baseball. CW- Climate Change, Death. [c3 t4]
- “After Me, A Flood” by Rae Kocatka (short story) - A difficult and emotional piece about a girl who becomes something of an immortal, a part of the planet she’s on, a part of so much of its progress and its pains. Trying always to reach for hope but ground down, cut apart, nothing ever really changing until at last she finds a way to express everything she’s feeling. It’s a sweeping, profound read definitely worth spending some time with! Disability, Mines, Planets, Family, Machines. CW- Body Modification, Death of a Parent, Death/Murder, Destruction. [c4 t4]
- “letters from the ides” by Jennifer Mace (poem) - A piece that speaks to me of facing hard truths. Endings. But not giving into the pressure to just let it slide, to just accept the future as inevitable. The piece might be a bit about finding comfort even in the struggle but it’s definitely about choosing the struggle and choosing to act collectively for a good, for a future. A great read!
- “The Restoration” by Karen Heuler (short story) - A great way to close out the issue, with a look at a world rebuilding and rewilding after what seems like a close call and global catastrophe. Now seeders are going out to reintroduce plants and animals, working larger and larger, trying to find balance and a check on humanity itself. A wonderful read! Plants, Animals, Seeds, Travel, Rewilding. CW- Extinction, Climate Change, Post Disaster. [c2 t3]
My first time checking out this publication and this issue, this book really, is a lot about disaster and climate change. About the desire to look away from difficulty, to avoid making the hard decisions, the actions that seem futile in the face of so much. Futility can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, and the works here look at that, look at how people can slip into complacency, but can also break out, push back against it, and start to do things. It’s a big collection full of some wonderful stories and poems, and I heartily recommend checking it out!
The Future Fire #2021.57 (5 short stories, 4 poems total)
- “Wives at the End of the World” by Avra Margariti (short story) - A beautiful and wrenching story about two wives and their way of coping with the end of the world. The loss. The death. By focusing on them, their journey, their love, by making that it’s own goal, a tour of their greatest hits, and from the grimness there’s something joyous and bright and wonderful! A fantastic opening story to the issue! Marriage, Queer MC, Amusement Parks, Travel. CW- Death/Dead Bodies, Disaster, Bullying (implied), Depression. [c4 t3]
- “The City, My Love” by Alexandra Seidel (short story) - Another touching and lovely story, this one unfolding from the point of view of a city, caring for and loving their citizens. Dealing with the pains of loving people and having to let some of them go. It’s wonderfully told, warm and alive and with a sense of scale and time that is powerful and sweeping. An incredible read! Cities, Buildings, Queer Characters, Family, Ancestors, Rockets. CW- Death. [c2 t3]
- “A Subtle Fire Beneath the Skin” by Hayley Stone (short story) - The story of a being who can manipulate language, poetry, prose, in order to sway people’s minds and turn the tides of war. Or at least that’s the plan until she discovers that she’s being used, and there might be a better use of her power than fueling more death and misery. A tightly-paced, nicely world-built story, with anger and greed giving way to something like peace. Great stuff! Poetry, Letters, Novels, Ink. CW- War/Violence/Death, Suicide. [c3 t3]
- “Autonomous Dispatch” by Anna Ziegelhof (short story) - A piece steeped in trauma where two people who have escaped a harrowing place have found each other in a new city, in new lives with new names...until someone finds them from their old prison. And the piece explores anger and vengeance, compassion and healing, in some interesting and profound ways. A wonderful read! Cities, Deserts, Sign Language, Names, Chosen Family. CW- Abuse/Torture/Medical Experimentation. [c4 t4]
- “Faulty Genes” by Hanna Soyer (short story) - This piece looks at diasbility and intimacy, trust and the many lenses through which people can view themselves, their bodies, and their relationships. It’s a complex read and a careful one that follows the narrator engaging with her desires, her fears, and the ideas that can’t quite be banished, that linger, hungry, in the periphery of her life. A powerful read! Disability, Aliens, Family, Dreams. CW- Abductions/Torture/Blades, Ableism. [c4 t4]
- “The Flier and the Sheltered Maid” by Ana Gardner (poem) - A beautiful piece about support, about finding the strength and confidence and aid to step out of a suffocating situation and enter the greater world. And, more, to roll that into a drive to help others in that way, paying forward the care and love that keeps people alive and free. A great read!
- “Alien Armada” by Mary Soon Lee (poem) - A nice twist on the alien invasion idea, where aliens arrive and humanity quakes and postures only to find that things aren’t what they seem. And I love the way it takes the wind out of humanity’s sails, that as much as their might be relief, there might also be disappointment that these aliens didn’t come to destroy anyone. A wonderful piece!
- “In Dependence” by Oluwatomiwa Ajeigbe (poem) - This piece takes on the difficult and loaded legacy of colonialism, featuring a narrator born after colonization has apparently been thrown off, but where their grandfather still knew that the wounds were there, the history there, and that some things shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s a bit of a grim piece, but a vivid and powerful one as well!
- “Apotheosis” by Nicole LeBoeuf-Little (poem) - A moving and rather tragic piece to me, one that speaks of longing and a kind of layering of injustice, stories that become immortalize, that trap people in roles they didn’t want, that didn’t fit, that don’t properly represent them. For all that, though, it’s also a beautiful poem about stars and life and death and stories, and a great way to close out the issue!
The latest from The Future Fire brings a nice range of stories, dealing a lot with characters who have been impacted by things outside of their control. Dealing with the end of the world or having escaped a brutal place. Being used for something terrible, or having to come to terms with disability. The works are careful and complex and difficult at times but show characters carving out their own agency, their own lives, even as they face danger and hardships. Plus, you know, lots of poetry! Always a good thing!
Samovar 04/26/2021 (2 short stories total)
- “Mysteries of the Visiocherries” by and translated by Rio Johan (short story) - A weird but rather delightful piece, told as something of a found-text account of a bio-engineer and his work with a visiocherry, a fruit that’s supposed to deliver inspiration but which actually does something more grim and unsettling. And despite the horror aspects of the story, for me there’s a lot of humor, too, something rather hilarious about the visiocherry even as it’s doing some terrifying shit. A rather delightful read! Plants, Fruit, Inspiration, Bio-Engineering, Police Repots. CW- Mind Control, Fires/Explosions/Suicide, Slavery. [c4 t4]
- “Second Death of the Father” by Cristina Jurado, translated by Marian Womack and James Womack (short story) - A dense, suffocating, grim story that follows a woman whose father dies but sticks around to haunt her. To stay with her, drawing her more and more into a kind of numb horror that’s difficult at times to confront. The piece is chilling and sinking, the prose doing a great job of showing this descent but also wow, it’s not a happy piece. A devastating read! Family, Dreams, Visions, Hauntings. CW- Death/Cancer, Depression, Transformation/Gore. [c4 t5]
A new Samovar means two new translated stories and they are rather powerfully done, if also very very different from one another. I feel almost lulled by the first story, which touches on horror but retains a kind of playfulness that cuts that a bit. While the second one is just a powerful slap to the face, a force dragging down into a grim place indeed. But both are wonderfully accomplished, and it makes for a balanced, interesting issue!
Mermaids Monthly #4 (1 short story, 3 poems total)
- “The Undersea Crossing Guard” by Lorraine Schein (poem) - A cute piece that comes from the narration of, well, the titular character, a mermaid who is looking out for the rest of the aquatic lives at risk from incursions from the surface dwellers. I like the way it builds up this whole structure of organizations with acronyms, making this much larger than just one crossing guard, but rather the tip of an iceberg of beings joining together to finally push back against the abuses against the oceans the their inhabitants. Lots of fun, and the illustration by Kris Herndon is perfect for it!
- “After Atlantis” by Lorraine Schein (poem) - This piece continues the theme of humans abusing the oceans but takes a more somber tone for me, looking now at a mermaid in a place washed clean of humans but not what humans have left behind, the wounds that the oceans will never fully heal from, the damage that lingers, that remains. It’s a visually rich piece, full of the sights the mermaid takes in, now and in her memories, and the picture it paints is quiet and marred. A wonderful read!
- “The Mermaid’s Dilemma” by Michael Angelo Stephens (poem) - A poem that on one level delivers a punch line that made me laugh, while at the same time sort of drawing things down, making that laugh hurt in ways that I didn’t anticipate. It’s funny, but it’s also deep, complicated, and poignant, a story about conflicting values, narratives, a being internalizing something that shouldn’t hold her down, but can made her doubt and second guess, worry when the values of the land don’t really apply to her, or at the very least don’t have to, but that she’s carrying like a weight. A great read!
- “A Minnow, or Perhaps a Colossal Squid” by C. S. E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez (short story) - Split between a kind of marine biologist and an apprentice executioner who is adept at turning debtors into fish, this story builds a sweeping alternate past that complicates justice and truth, that pushes the characters to challenge the status quo and work for something larger than a crown, greater than an island. And I love the detail, the voice of both characters, unyielding and powerful, reformers who value life even as they’re willing to risk their own to push toward justice. The framing is great, and the result is fun and freeing. An amazing story! Fish, Transformations, Biology, Seas, Natural History. CW- Executions, Non-consensual Transformations, Death, Prisons. [c4 t3]
It’s a big issue of Mermaids Monthly, with plenty of poetry, fiction, art, and even an essay! Much of it is reprinted, though, and with the time crunch I’m under now I’m just going to be looking at the three original poems and one original story, which are still amazing and do a lot of interesting things with mermaids and with the sea in general, showing how humans abuse the oceans, and how people, human and otherwise, are working to push back against that. A fantastic issue!
Pseudopod #754 (3 short stories total)
- “Step Up, Step Down” by Alexandra Duncan (short story/flash) - A creepy little story about toxic cycles. Here a young woman was murdered and is stuck in the place, a kind of hell and prison, and she decides to pay that forward, killing a young man who stops to listen to her. And her transformation from victim to monster is grim and unsettling. Rivers, Trees, Grass, Relationships, Ghosts, Hauntings. CW- Death/Murder, Misogyny, Abuse. [c4 t4]
- “Snip Snip Snip” by Matt Thompson (short story/flash) - Another grim one, this one about a place where people are being visited by the Snipper, who, well, snips off parts of people’s hands and feet. And for me it is an interesting way of looking at how people essentially justify violence/victimization when they feel powerless to stop it, essentially institutionalizing it rather than processing it and supporting the victims. School, Hands, Feet, Punishments. CW- Dismemberment/Amputation, Torture. [c3 t5]
- “My Guests” by Glynn Forsythe (short story/flash) - Bugs! But while the story deals with creepy crawlies, it’s actually a rather sweet take on them, though that might be the way the piece twists horror and expectations, showing the care and kindness of the narrator and the way that it might not be quite so benign as they are experiencing it. A great read! Termites, Skin, Employment, Renting. CW- Infestations, Body Horror, Police/ACAB, Possible Mind Control. [c4 t4]
This issue/episode brings three very brief stories that each take their horror seriously. The first two are much more about cycles of violence and the weird line between victim and...something else. While the third looks at infestation in a rather skin-crawling fashion (literally!). They all do some interesting things, and the issue is a great snack of creepy SFF!
PodCastle #676 (1 short story total)
- “#BloodBossBabes” by Rachel Kolar (short story) - This story ranges into some horrific territory as it follows one side of a set of interactions between two women, centered on a blood cult/pyramid scheme that...well, walks that line between humor and horror very well. I love the voice here, the enthusiasm that the narrator has as a salesperson, pushing this new recruit further and further outside her comfort zone. Closer and closer to something terrible. There’s a peppy energy that undercuts the tragedy, the real hunger that doesn’t really have anything to do with cosmic forces and has much more to do with schemes and predators of all sorts. A fine read! Emails, Pyramid Schemes, Family. CW- Body Modification, Blood, Blood Sacrifice, Confidence Tricks, Murder/Death of a Spouse, Cults. [c5 t4]
This latest original from PodCastle steals a tick from sister podcast Pseudopod to bring an extra horrifying fantasy story involving hungry gods and voracious sales pitching. It’s a sharp look at the times and a rather damning statement on the way pyramid schemes operate. A chilling issue/episode!
Escape Pod #782 (short story)
- “Electronic Ghosts” by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (short story) - A rather delightful story about a woman and her mother. About her mother’s ghost--er...uploaded consciousness--er...well, it’s complicated. And the story follows what might have been this very tragic situation and instead finds something less grim to fix on. A haunting that’s not exactly a haunting. A work project gone wrong...or right? Most of all, though, a relationship that might have been severed, that persists. And in that it’s fun and rather funny, lightly ridiculous but also heartfelt, earnest, and warm. A wonderful read! Ghosts, AI, Uploaded Consciousnesses, Family, Employment, Stories. CW- Death of a Parent, Aggressive Capitalism. [c3 t3]
An issue that finds some humor and fun in a rather tragic scenario. That explores the relationship between a mother and daughter and how that changes when one of them...dies. For that, though, the story isn’t grim, and the outcome is rather beautiful!
Tor April 2021 (1 short story total)
- “Annie Without Crow” by Michael Swanwick (short story) - A rather raucous and slightly smutty (in a good way!) story about a being of power who is slighted one time too many and who sets out to do something about it. It’s a time travel adventure featuring gods, Queen Elizabeth, and perhaps the end of life on Earth. It’s also a fun romp circling around desire, boredom, and justice. A thoroughly entertaining read! Gods, Gifts, Curses, Time Travel, Bargains. CW- Misogyny, Rape/Non-consensual Sex. [c2 t3]
There was only one original from Tor in May, though there were a few reprints as well that look quite good. The new story takes on time, relationships, sex, and gods. It’s a bit of a raunchy read, moving quickly through desire and distraction, focusing on teaching some old gods a very timeless lesson about not being assholes. Good stuff!
Works read this year to date: 453 stories, 142 poems (+30 stories, +17 poems)
Well by any standards this was a busy week. A lot of it (and yes, A Lot) was because of picking up Reckoning, but otherwise it’s just that a lot of things came out toward the end of the month. Which doesn’t bother me so much any more, but did stop me from getting into more May releases (everything here is still from April). But it should have also closed out April, so next week should be entirely May stuff, and there will be quite a bit of it (now that I’ve been asking for more review copy it can pile up a bit at the beginning of the month).
In me news, not a whole lot to report. My editorial for We’re Here is done and it’s still really odd writing that, because of how I feel about “best ofs” and because it’s my first time editing so…weird! But I do love what we’ve done and am excited to see the project continue next year. I’ve been reaching out to local news people about my various things this year, too, and am having photos taken for a piece to appear in Volume One, the local arts magazine, and will be interviewed for Spectrum West, the local WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) arts segment. Exciting stuff! So yeah, stay awesome. Cheers!
The Frankenstein Chronicles, seasons 1-2
So I started this on a whim, mostly because I needed something to watch and didn’t think my husband would like it so I could watch it alone. It’s…an interesting monster. Sean Bean plays Sean Bean but in the past and with Syphilis. Not sure I liked that aspect of his tragic backstory (that he passed it to his wife and child, which killed the child and seems to have driven the wife to suicide?). Nor was the Nightingale romance arc all that satisfying for me. Really season one, aside from the decent horror beats, was a mess. The second season I feel improved a bit over the first with the more complicated cast and plot, but also made a number of odd choices that I didn’t really like either. For a speculative historical horror, I think it hits a lot of nice points. There are lots of nods to literary and historical events. The acting isn’t bad on the whole, and it isn’t scared to get weird. It’s just also a mess in terms of overall impact. The quasi-religious, quasi-scientific line it walks just doesn’t pay off for me, neither of them feeling entirely satisfactory or viable. The science is too often the villain, but so is religion, and the people are mostly terrible too. So…a very grim, gritty show, but lacking to me a sort of coherent impact. I’d probably watch more, but if it’s done I won’t be too upset. Indeed.