Reviews

(bolding is always mine)

Postlude to the Afternoon of a Faun (in F&SF, Mar/Apr 2019)

I am happy to have read this. It is a story of a faun, thousands of years old, a creature of myth, if you perchance missed that in the title. It’s set in St. Louis, though it spans several other American cities in the retelling, and mostly occurs in the present. There is a rich history hidden away in the letters, stories of battles between hope and love, and their opposites, hatred and despair… Of the battle between the puritanical removal of all things that bring pleasure, and the music that sets free the souls of mankind. There is, perhaps more prevalent, the passing of this music from the old to the young, and the growth of the young into maturity. The themes are poignant, timeless, and beautiful. There is a little bit of divergence from the train of thought, meandering at times. Overall, it is well written, and there are few faults to be found within. The mythological elements are not overdone, and enhance rather than distract from the beauty of the tale. Highly recommended. — Seraph, Tangent Online

___

★★★★☆ Sad but Sweet with Never a Wrong Note

(with spoilers)

I like the way we gradually learn that Mr. Dance is much more than merely a musician, more than merely a great musician, more than merely human.

He starts the story in a very dark place, slowly dying in his isolation, mourning all he’s lost, And then Eric shows up with Mr. Dance’s lost magic clarinet. It tells us a lot about Mr. Dance that he doesn’t outright try to steal the clarinet, particular when we know he thinks the clarinet can heal him.

It’s a nice twist that it doesn’t work that way. Even when he drives Eric away, the clarinet won’t speak to him. Only when he helps Eric find his way do things start to happen, and it’s from Eric’s playing, not his own. Even then, the healing doesn’t touch his legs, which was what he wanted the most.

Before he can heal his body, he has to heal his soul, and his interactions with Eric show that happening, bit by bit. In retrospect, he must have known this on some level or he never would have started teaching again.

At his reunion with his old friends we see how far he’s come, particularly when Eric makes his comment about Billy Sunday and he manages to just roll with it.

In the final scene, where Mr. Dance is playing the replacement clarinet and Eric is tentatively playing the original, it’s very moving that the new clarinet is starting to glow with music because that’s just as it should be. The old clarinet is part of his past, and he can’t have that back, but he can have a brilliant present, if he works at it. — Rocketstackrank

When I started reading this story, I was a little concerned that it might turn into a pretentious and self-involved piece, of interest solely to jazz musicians who read fantasy in their spare time. Thankfully, the story is far more inclusive than this, tackling universal concerns around identity, loneliness and how we find our place in the world. Mr. Dance and Eric both come across as kind and generous but also vulnerable, so it’s a delight to see each of them help and in turn be helped by the other. This is a genuinely uplifting story and suggests a bright future for its author.— sfcrowsnest

Jerome Stueart’s story is filled with longing, loss, love and music. The history of Mr. Dance, his circle of friends, and the brutal evangelist who stole the Shaft from him decades ago unfolds smoothly, interspersed with scenes of the fumbling Eric trying to learn jazz. Although Mr. Dance is focused on gaining back his instrument, he can’t help but see that Eric is struggling too; as Eric says, he is good at football but doesn’t love it; he loves music but fears he isn’t good at it. Both characters feel trapped by circumstances and by their own choices.

The secondary characters, like the nymph Patti and the band members we meet at the end, are well-drawn. Mr. Dance’s origins are explained in the story’s title, but they truly don’t matter. This is a story about mentorship, loss, and redemption … and ultimately the power of music. The fact that the music embraced by the fauns, satyrs and nymphs is not some ethereal pan-pipe arrangement but actual jazz makes the story sweeter and more wicked. Recommended for people who like mild sexual innuendo (the banter in the bar, you guys!), great stories about teachers and students, and music. ~Marion Deeds, FantasyLiterature.com

____

I somehow missed this story when it was originally published last year, but I am so very glad I read it recently. I’d describe the story, but the author himself sums it up best in this fabulous interview,

A jazz-playing faun finds everything taken from him a hundred years ago could be his again, if he’s willing to take it from his own student. He struggles to find another way. These two characters are trying to change their lives for the better, and finding it almost overwhelming. It has Jazz, Mentoring, and Hope.

Stueart beautifully captures what it feels like to listen to music and to play music, alone and with others. The magic of it, the power of it, and the emotions it can kindle and fan in your soul. Lovely, beautiful tale and it is definitely worth buying this issue even just for this one story.– Maria Haskins,  Curious Fictions.

The Angels of Our Better Beasts (collection of stories):

fabulous ideas and even more fabulous characters….  Not a single story in this collection disappointed me – which is rare, as I’m sure you know if you read short fiction… easily one of the best collections by a single author I have ever read.Brandon Crilly for Black Gate Magazine

The Angels of Our Better Beasts is fantastic, evocative fiction that will make you laugh while you think… The variety is great, but Stueart’s keen sense of humanity, and the role art plays in our relationships, is the key strength. Few times have weird fiction actually evoked real emotions. Fittingly there is a bonus too, since the author provides his own illustrations throughout.–Seth Lindberg on booklikes.com

Individual Stories

One Nation Under Gods ( in Tesseracts 14: Strange Canadian Stories)

The author of “One Nation Under Gods”, Jerome Stueart, emigrated to Yukon from the States in 2007, and his former citizenship is evident in the themes and content of his story. I’m not biased in its favor because of my nationality, nor simply because its dark vision seems in concord with my fears. This story succeeds, in my eyes, because of his detailed worldbuilding, the realistic relationship between the narrator and his sister, and his cultivation of genuine menace, an evocation of the way people can be treated as things. In the world of this story (which in outlook and some tropes puts me a bit in mind of Steve Darnall and Alex Ross’ 1997 comic Uncle Sam) concepts like Freedom and Patriot are incarnate as deities, administered by priests and priestesses, and the Statue of Liberty herself is known to walk abroad. The history of the gods is the history of the country, and its people are required to memorize that catechism or pay with their lives in particularly grotesque ways; if a child fails the standardized test which is a mandated rite of passage, he or she is transformed into a public object, anything from a soda shop to a garbage can. Stueart skillfully incorporates the conflict between individuality and vested religious and political powers; the way those powers can intertwine and what that merging means; the clash between idealism or perception cultivated through propaganda and reality, between history as the study of people in power versus the study of the people’s past; and the transformation of people into instruments, people into numbers.—Val Grimm at the Portal.

How Magnificent is the Universal Donor (in Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead)

…left me breathless….reads like a medical thriller….  “How Magnificent is the Universal Donor”  does what few short stories manage. It remains strong on all fronts. Well developed characters, a clever and unorthodox world and enough suspense all result in a must-read page turner. It’s a true gem that fulfills the anthology’s theme and delivers a lot more. —  http://templelibraryreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/anthology-review-evolve-final-part-8.html

Two of the most powerful stories were placed in the final part of the anthology. In «How Magnificent is the Universal Donor» Jerome Stueart there are virtually no vampires (at least those that originate through Stoker’s Dracula). The story can be attributed to pure science fiction, and this is the definite plus.Ray Garraty, Endless Falls Up, 

The Moon Over Tokyo Through Leaves in the Fall (in Fantasy)

This is precisely the kind of story–melancholy, sedate, focused on its protagonist’s angst–that I tend to recoil from, if only because they crop up so very often.  Stueart, however, makes this all too common approach his own with a combination of strong writing, a compelling main character, and an interesting and original SFnal McGuffin (I’d wonder about the presence of a clearly SFnal story in Fantasy Magazine‘s archives, but there are at least two other stories there which are purely mimetic, so).  Yumi is the much-younger wife of Matsui, a maker of piku-wines–wines that cause their drinkers to experience complete immersion in another person’s memory.  The marriage has been floundering for some time, as Matsui’s tastes and opinions become those of an old man’s, leaving behind a woman with whom he’d previously had much in common, and Yumi finds a focal point for her frustration when Matsui becomes obsessed with his latest creation, a recreation of one of his memories which features a woman whom Yumi becomes convinced was Matsui’s lover.  The contrast between a technology that allows one to experience another’s memories with the growing alienation between the couple is obvious but well-done, and as foreign as they are to each other Stueart makes sure that we understand Yumi and Matsui’s frustrations.  This is a quiet piece–the quietest on this list–but also an effective and moving one.http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2009/12/2009-year-in-reading-best-short-stories.html

Why the Poets Were Banned from the City (in OnSpec)

Why the Poets Were Banned from the City by Jerome Stueart examines the issues of murder, redemption, madness and media manipulation. Literary in style, it disturbs on both a gory, in-your-face level, and on a far more subtle, far nastier level as it examines just how far a person can be manipulated before something snaps.--Horrorscope: the Australian Dark Fiction Weblog 

When a father finds that his daughter has committed suicide with a line from a poem (by Emily Dickinson) clutched in her hand, he seeks out those writers for revenge. On top of creating an intriguing and disturbing future, the story is full of questions and musings on the nature and power of stories. …a powerful look at the nature and strength of stories, and of literature in general, both the reading and the writing of it.Tangent Short Fiction Review 

The story explores the idea that without artistic culture to contextualise our emotions, we can’t understand them. More specifically, the father of a girl who has killed herself can’t understand her suicide note, which consists of a line of poetry. Heady stuff.Neale Monks, SFCrowsnest.com 

Lemmings in the Third Year (in Tesseracts 9)

Jerome Stueart’s wacky, sweet short story Lemmings in the Third Year has received Honourable Mention from this year’s Fountain Award jury. Geoff Ryman and I were co-editors for Tesseracts Nine, which is, I believe, the tenth anthology in a series of original Canadian science fiction and fantasy shorts in English. Congratulations, Jerome! Nalo Hopkinson on “Lemmings in the Third Year”

Jerome Stueart opens the volume with a whimsical tale about Yukon researchers who discover the polar bears and lemmings around them can not only talk but are researching them.Carl Hays, Booklist 

“A stranded research team spends their time in the Arctic interviewing a group of lemmings who, in turn, are studying their predators in Jerome Stueart’s eerie Lemmings in the Third Year…”  —Library Journal 

“Lemmings in the Third Year by Jerome Stueart – in which intelligent lemmings are recruited to help in scientific research, into the feeding habits of owls, feeding on lemmings. A tongue-in-cheek story with the immortal line in response to a lemming gleefully postulating the exhilaration of being scooped into an owl’s talons: “I underestimate their death wish.”… Tesseracts Nine, continues the great Canadian speculative fiction anthology series, with a wonderful mix of stories…. Kudos to both Hopkinson and Ryman, for piecing together a stem-to-stern, satisfying read.”—Yet Another Book Review 

“Tesseracts 9 starts out with a strong run of stories. The opening story, “Lemmings in the Third Year” by Jerome Stueart is an unusual mix of humour and pathos, handled with a light touch and no shortage of feeling. A small group of scientists has been stranded in an alternate version of the Arctic; in this reality, the animals all speak…. Tesseracts Nine is a solid collection of short sf works.”James Schellenberg, Challenging Destiny  

“…the difficulty of teaching the scientific method to talking lemmings is irresistibly told…”–Ursula Pflug, Peterborough Examiner, reprinted in the NY TIMES Review of Science Fiction, Jan 2006

Jerome Stueart’s “Lemmings in the Third Year” is a funny piece about a researcher marooned among talking animals.  —Speculative Literature Foundation 

“…Jerome Stueart’s “Lemmings in the Third Year” manages to be both laugh-out-loud funny and thoughtful, almost painful in this tale of strange talking animals and the scientific method.”Sarah Meador, Rambles: a Cultural Arts Magazine 

Favorite short story read this year? Lemmings in the Third Year, by Jerome Stueart. Its in the Tesseracts Nine Anthology put out by Edge Books.-Bruce K. Derksen, interview with Shimmer 

Brazos (in Strange Horizons)

In Brazos by Jerome Stueart, a god approaches the human narrator with a proposition of marriage between his son, the Brazos River, and the narrators daughter…Most importantly, the author doesnt forget that a story is, first and foremost, meant to entertain; Brazos does that well, too.–The Fix, short fiction review 

Bear With Me (in Tesseracts 11)

“One story with a sure ’nuff Canadian setting is Jerome Stueart’s “Bear With Me”, in which a woman goes to the Yukon to visit her long-distance boyfriend for the first time. And, of course, he’s a bear a real bear, at least some of the time. Stueart plays the story completely straight, and it works well.”Rich Horton, Locus 

Where the Sled Dogs Run (in Queer Wolf)

This well-written first-person narrative gives us a light, witty tone and a likable hero. –Obsidian Bookshelf 

“…a touching and warming tale about acceptance and change.”--Nigel Puerasch, Wilde Oats 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s