Magazine: Uncanny #8

uncannyUncanny #8

I’m walking through a library, searching for a magazine, but I can’t seem to find one. Stuffed cats wearing hats and boots sit on the shelves of one aisle. Climbers in dark clothing move up the empty shelves of another. I avert my eyes from the next aisle, as a man and woman are undressing there. Fairies flit among the shelves of the next one. At last, I locate a shelf with a single periodical: Uncanny Magazine, issue number eight.

Short Stories

The Virgin Played Bass by Maria Headley.  This story is nonsense, bordering on gibberish.  A puss-in-boots knockoff leads a group of musicians across Europe, running away from some kind of evil army.  At the end of the story, the characters form a tower by sitting on each others’ shoulders, and the top person blows a trumpet, killing the army.

Have you ever read a story and wondered what the heck the author was thinking?  Well, in this case, we get an author interview and an answer to that question!  The story was based on a dream she had, a musician friend’s trip to Europe, a little-known fairy tale, and her thoughts on Christianity, even though she’s an atheist not raised with religion.  In other words, a bunch of things almost no-one but the author could be aware of.  No wonder the finished product is a bunch of scatterbrained babbling.  Why the editor bought this story, and chimed in with praise during the interview, is another question.

Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo.  A thief in an Asian city climbs a witch’s tower.  There’s a bit of a fairy-tale ending.

The Creeping Women by Christopher Barzak.  A family drama with no sci-fi or fantasy content.  At least there’s a murder.

The Sincerity Game by Brit Mandelo.  Two people have sex a couple of times.  Fortunately, it’s not too descriptive — one character is a man, but I’m not even sure of the second person’s sex.  The dude has a tattoo which includes the word “wolf”, so I guess that’s somehow supposed to make this a werewolf story.  If that makes someone a werewolf, what about all those sailors who used to tattoo “Mom” on their arms?

Maybe I should be a consultant for romance writers who want to slide their books into a new genre.  A blockbuster sci-fi movie is coming out?  Your character has a tattoo of the milky way.  Historical fiction is hot this week?  Tattoo of the Magna Carta.  Man, I am good at this!

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg.  Two pen-pals write to each other.  They’re magical craftspeople, so there’s a small fantasy element.

The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan.  A mashup of Peter Pan and James Bond.

I open my eyes and sit up in bed. My sheets are soaked with sweat. Oh, it was all just a bad dream. I laugh at my silly nightmare and go back to sleep. There’s no such thing as Uncanny Magazine.


  1. Thanks for taking one for the team. Really appreciate you confirming that its somehow worse than the cover suggests.

    1. Surprisingly, this is only the second-worst magazine I’ve read during my quest. I haven’t written my review of the worst one yet.

  2. “If that makes someone a werewolf, what about all those sailors who used to tattoo “Mom” on their arms?”

    Oh man, that made me laugh.

    You’d think the Law of Statistics would have at least given you ONE story that was good. Oh well, we all lose sometime, right?

    1. Yes, just think of all those were-moms in the navy.

      Two stories were about average for what’s being published in the mags these days, although that’s not a high standard. Those two were “Lotus Face and the Fox” and “The Spy Who Never Grew Up”. I wouldn’t have thought about either of them after reading if I hadn’t been a reviewer, though.

  3. And the cover says it’s issue eight. Think of all the quality reading you missed. Better head to eBay fast.

    1. I read this a while ago. They’re up to thirteen now.

    1. Ouch for me, because I had to read it, and ouch for the editors if they happen to come across my review.

  4. I’m flabbergasted by the words you typed up. Its wonderful to finally find a good reviewer who doesn’t just give a thumbs up.

    1. There are quite a few readers who won’t type up negative reviews. Sometimes they just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or sometimes they don’t want to miss out on free books from publishers.

      If I put up with a terrible novel or short story, I’m giving it to the author with both barrels. I think it’s important to point these things out, for the benefit of other authors as well as potential readers.

  5. Ha ha ha. Loved it.

    1. Thanks. I have a few more harsh reviews to go, as well as a favorable one.

  6. I recently gave up writing reviews on my blog unless I really love the book. I unfortunately read so much crap or luke warm garbage that if I wrote genuine reviews I would be constantly trashing people. I don’t want that sort of negativity so I am glad somebody alse does it. Personally I have given up on reading book blogs. If a blogger gets free books their subjectivity is immediately in question. Most book blogs are press releases and about as useful as book blurbs

    1. In theory, over time, I should become more skilled at picking reading material, and my reviews should trend more positive.

      So far, that isn’t working out, partially because I keep setting new challenges for myself such as this magazine quest, or looking into subgenres I wouldn’t normally explore.

      Even if I was reading only things that grabbed my interest, publishers sometimes put out misleading marketing blurbs, and I have no problem calling them out on that.

      Before my magazine quest, my reviews were about 50/50 positive and negative. We’ll have to see if that pattern continues when I go back to novels.

  7. I was waiting for the story that made the magazine worth the read. Guess that didn’t happen. Oh, well.

    1. Yeah, it started out incomprehensible, and moved on to dull.

  8. […] weekend, I posted a blistering review of Uncanny Magazine. I used the phrases “nonsense, bordering on gibberish” and “scatterbrained […]

  9. J. D. Brink · · Reply

    I recently had a military SF story rejected by Uncanny. Guess I see why now… Or at least, I can see that maybe it wasn’t in their tastes.

    1. Yeah, I don’t expect your story got much of a look. Let me know if you find a home for it.

      Red Sun has requested submissions from former/current military.

  10. […] Analog, Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and Worlds Without […]

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