Tor.com, January 14, 2019
- “The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir” by Karin Tidbeck (fantasy short story)
2019 is still young and Featured Futures‘ structure is still in flux. But Tor.com has a story to review, so I’m reviewing it.
Skidbladnir is an entity who permeates a concrete building, both of which swim under space like a seal under water while people play board games and watch videotapes on their way to tour or trade. “Engineer Novik” and Saga the janitor are the good, non-imperialist crew and a bird-being and a shadow captain are not good. Saga has discovered that, despite all her dreaming, Space Sucks, but she figures at least Skidbladnir doesn’t. When the entity starts sickening and the building starts breaking, there’s a simple struggle between the compassionate ones and the mercenary ones and then between Saga’s conflicting desires.
January’s almost wombatting a thousand as this is yet another ineffective conflation of SF and fantasy (almost entirely fantasy, yet billed as SF by Tor.com) and is slow and uninvolving, besides. It includes phrases like “only assumed her as a ‘she'” and “though they seemed gossamer” and uses the ol’ “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” when the ship “improbably” does something (when probability, in this kind of story, isn’t even relevant). Some may respond to this tale’s dark whimsy or appreciate its message but it will likely leave most others cold.
 I was intending to cover BCS and Tor.com in these weekly reviews and, if neither published anything in a given week, I would review some classic stories (and had one ready for today). However, Tor.com promised (and now seems to not be fulfilling the promise of) bi-monthly issues and, on top of that, has published a story on a Monday instead of a Wednesday. If the bi-monthly thing happens, then I would review that, review all the BCS issues of a given month near the end of the month when possible, and perhaps keep doing an “all classic” “Weekly Review.” If not, and Tor.com keeps publishing on Mondays instead of Wednesdays, I’ll have to drop a week behind instead of trying to post a review the same day as every Tor.com release. Sorry I can’t give you more definite plans; we’ll just have to see how it goes.