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The Homeless Moon

The Homeless Moon
by Andrews, Deluca, Hoffman, Howe, & Ridler
Creative Commons Chapbook, 2008
The Homeless Moon is a chapbook collection of five short stories, all of which could be called science fiction but might also be called new weird, which basically means fantasy, though not quite, it’s like calling horror dark fantasy, I think, somehow… the authors, on the back of the chapbook, call their collection “a cache of eclectic genre fiction,” and that’s just vague enough to work. While I’d hoped the Earth’s moon would be what would connect all the stories, what connects these stories is the Odyssey workshop, a fantasy writing workshop, which the five authors of The Homeless Moon attended. The blurb on the back of the book, begins, “Five Odyssey grads join together like a piecemeal mutant Voltron….”

The reference to Voltron put me off. I am, admittedly, a stick in the mud, but the tendency to refer to a combined effort as being like Voltron signals a dorky sense of humor that I do not enjoy (and even as a young boy, Voltron bored me to tears). Hint of dorkiness aside, I was drawn to the chapbook, a freebie at Readercon (a Boston-area fantasy literature convention), because of the mysterious cover image—a spider-like silhouette shining a beam of light in a field; the moon, slightly obscured by black clouds, low in the sky—and by the title, taken from a story by Isaac Babel: “Over the town roamed the homeless moon. I went along with her, warming up in my heart impracticable dreams and discordant songs.”

And there was also the fact of my ignorance regarding the authors; I’d read none of the five: Michael J. DeLuca, Jason S. Ridler, Scott H. Andrews, Erin Hoffman, and Justin Howe. Ultimately, the first story, DeLuca’s “Construction-Paper Moon,” convinced me to read all five stories—and to write this review.

“Construction-Paper Moon” is rich with snug, childhood-bedroom atmosphere, and seems to take as its leaping-off point those glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to so many bedroom ceilings. The story takes place twenty-or-so years in the future, when Earth’s moon has disappeared, but is primarily about a daughter and her father. The image that stirred me the most: without the moon, the ocean is still.

None of the other stories were as affecting, but only one was bad. My dislike for satire grows with every modest proposal I read, and “Colonized,” by Andrews, which turns the racial tables on a Virginia Tech-like shooting, only reaffirms my dislike. The subject matter is worthy: American’s current fears regarding China, American racism, gun-control, and big-government—but the elbow-nudging satire gets painful quick.

Hoffman’s story, the other moon story, “The Recurrence of Orpheus,” comes in at second place, as its three god-like main characters journey to an underworld to reclaim the moon, because, “[Alexander] rolled it down there a week past solstice, and he won’t come out again.” A myth vivid with images.

I also liked Ridler’s “Impracticable Dreams,” about a magician who must feed his magic hat, and Howe’s “Welcome to Foreign Lands,” a giant-worm wrangling story. The latter annoys a little bit at the beginning, as Howe can’t resist over-describing every minor little thing, but that clears up as the story emerges.

Reviewing a chapbook only available at a weekend-long convention would be deeply frustrating to Open Letters readers, I’m sure; what’s nice about The Homeless Moon’s distribution is that the whole book is available online for free. The chapbook is copyright protected under a Creative Commons license, which means you can legally make as many copies as you please, so long as you don’t sell them or alter the text. The address given in the book—this one—leads you, with one click, to this page. If you want a print copy, you can order it for a dollar.

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Adam Golaski
 is the author of Color Plates and Worse Than Myself. He co-edits for Flim Forum Press, and is the editor of New Genre. Check in on Adam at Little Stories.

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