I was excited to see Behind the Sun, Above the Moon on NetGalley and delighted to receive it in exchange for an honest review.
A Queer anthology inspired by magic and the cosmos, a vast and beautiful place where planets, stars, comets—entire galaxies, even—live without borders, specifications or binaries. Stories span science fiction, science fantasy, contemporary, fabulism and magical realism, and celebrate Non-binary and Transgender characters.
I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I requested this because Anna Zabo is one of the authors I am diving into this year. I was also intrigued by an anthology of non-binary and transgender characters. I enjoyed all of the stories that I read, but I did not read all of the stories in the anthology. I am having a period of high anxiety and in this state, I react more strongly to body horror. Fortunately, there are content warnings before each story and I skipped the ones that said body horror. They may or may not have ratcheted up my anxiety, but I appreciated the option to skip them.
The stories I did read all deal with the permeability of boundaries. In J.S. Fields’ “Awry with Dandelions”, Orin (xie) and Mette (she) have a magical connection that puts them in each other’s dreams for a few seconds each night, leaving them feeling physically ill and exhausted. Mette figures out a way to sever the connection, but it must be done in a specific place and time. There’s a heist like feel to the adventure as well as a melancholy about separating from someone who has shared your mind.
In S.R. Jones “The Far Touch,” Kel (he), an astronaut, returns to his planet to join his coven for a ritual. Like humans on Earth, the dominant species of his planet seems to be hurtling destruction of the planet. Even back on planet, Kel feels an awareness of the ground under his feet and the space above him. It’s a beautiful meditation on connectedness.
My favorite story was Anna Zabo’s “Weave the Dark, Weave the Light.” Ari (they) is a fire witch who feels like a failure. They go ice skating and while out meet a mysterious and dangerous stranger who appears human, but is not.
But Ari had a heart of knives and a soul of fire. Of course they’d follow.
Ari and Jonathon start an affair that isn’t, they agree, a romance. I’ve read a lot of bad BDSM romances, and I have rarely believed that the author had any idea what they were writing about. Without speculating about Anna Zabo’s private life, they write about bondage and pain play with a realism and ecstasy that I have rarely encountered. Ari and Jonathon may not have been in a romance, but “Weave the Dark, Weave the Light” is a romance with a lovely Happily for Now.
“Tell me about stars.”
Jonathan did, with words that made sense and ones that didn’t, and then whispered truths in a language Ari didn’t know. About loneliness and eternity. Falling to earth. The song of the universe that still echoed in Jonathan’s ears. Ari shuddered and listened. Cold fire wrapped into their marrow, and that at least they understood.