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Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #270

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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Issue #270 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies online magazine, featuring stories by Natalia Theodoridou (To Stab with a Rose, to Love with a Knife) and Alix E. Harrow (Do Not Look Back, My Lion).
Kindle Edition, 31 pages
Published January 23rd 2019 by _Beneath Ceaseless Skies_ Online Magazine

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Nataliya
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hugo-nebula, shorts
This review is for the Hugo-nominated short story Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix Harrow:

It’s a story set in a typical warrior culture, although matriarchical and with traditional gender roles flipped (women are warriors, men are mostly doing domestic duties) and designations of husband/wife referring to domestic duties regardless of gender.

It’s a country devoted to the god of war, glorifying conquest and battles above all.
“Distantly, over the too-loud sound of her own shuddering heartbeat,
...more
Dennis
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
***Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow***

A husband’s struggle with her wife’s unwavering sense of duty towards the Emperor and her ceaseless war-making. (no misuse of determiners – they are all women)

Even when Talaan is pregnant with their fifth child, she feels the need to return to the battlefield. It is her duty, for she is a great warrior and "a soldier does not ask for a good Life, only a good Death."

Well, Eefa only wants a life, and a family.

A fantasy-tale of death and birth, of wa
...more
Rebecca | Velvet Opus
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Eefa has been a good husband, she knows, but now she is running”

Alix E. Harrow’s short story and finalist for the 2020 Hugo Awards, is a fantasy without gender based roles or naming conventions; a ‘husband’ is one who stays at home, a ‘wife’ is one who goes to war. Strong-willed husband, Eefa, marches to protest the Emperor's ceaseless war-making, trying to save her child from certain death...

”But when enough people tell the same story enough times, it begins to come true”

I’ve admired Alix E.
...more
Cathy
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Review for Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #270, January 31, 2019

High fantasy, war, genderfluid characters. Death and blood and endless war. Loss, betrayal, hope.

“Betrayal is a fearsome armor against love.“

The world building was pretty good, but I did not connect with the characters. I liked the ending, although I did not really agree with the choices everyone made. It got me thinking though, so I can see why this is nominated for a Hugo.

Can be read for
...more
Silvana
Rating and review only for Alix E. Harrow's Do Not Look Back, My Lion.

Well, since this is the only Hugo's short story nominee I have yet to read (though I have downloaded it in my Kindle for months), obviously I have to read it asap.

At first, I felt like reading one of Kameron Hurley's stories, really, with all the group marriages and fluid gender roles, but Harrow has her own distinct style that's more subtle and melancholic. She succeeded in weaving a story with a sympathetic character experie
...more
Peter Tillman
My review is solely for "Do Not Look Back, My Lion," by Alix E. Harrow, a Hugo nominee for best short story. So far it's unpromising. Bad Emperor, tough mom. Kid going to war: “A soldier does not ask for a good Life, only for a good Death,” Talaan intones. Blah blah blah.

So far, I'm not seeing anything that makes me want to continue. Too bad. I did like her debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, last year, a very fine portal fantasy, that my GR friend Tadiana said is "perched at the to
...more
Kalin
Jun 24, 2020 marked it as part-read
Alix E. Harrow's "Do Not Look Back, My Lion" is (no pun intended) a harrowing story about war and the stupidities involved. Two representative excerpts:
She lies in bed, tasting bile in her throat, thinking all her tired thoughts about the fucking Emperor and her fucking endless war and the terrible, unpayable cost of it all. And this is only half the price. Their enemies pay the heavier half, and this terrible red equation is called victory.
She knows by Talaan’s stiffness that she is awake, too.
...more
Jana
Mar 11, 2019 added it
Shelves: 5-stars
Review is for "Do Not Look Back, My Lion," by Alix E. Harrow. Rating: 5 stars. Review posted at Fantasy Literature. ...more
Lamadia
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I felt so much from this short story. I liked it better than her novel even. In such a short space, I felt like I understood so much of this very different world, and it was all presented so skillfully that I didn't notice the exposition. My imagining the thundering advance of large pregnant warriors makes this a different story to other high fantasy stories for me. ...more
Justine
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read for the 2020 Hugos. A really interesting story about war and motherhood. Lovely writing, as you'd expect from Harrow, that plays with gender and gender roles. ...more
Jessica Haider
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
3.5 stars

This is the 4th Hugo Short Story nominee that I've read this week. This character-driven high fantasy short story is written by the same author as the novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January, which I really enjoyed. I am not a big high fantasy fan so this took a bit of effort for me to get into. This book is focused on 2 primary female characters Eefa and Talaan who are married and have 4 children together. They live in an empire ruled by a female Emperor. Talaan is constantly going to
...more
Kerry
One of the short story nominees for the 2020 Hugo Awards.

This was my second reading of this story (I first read it but didn't log it on Goodreads, after finishing The Ten Thousand Doors of January and wanting to see what else Harrow had written) and I think the plot made more sense to me on a second reading, which allowed me to get into the heart of it better. I liked it a whole lot on this read.

There's some clever work with gender here, especially by decoupling the ideas of "husband" and "wife"
...more
Stephen Damm
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bcs, magazines
So, I'm getting back to reviewing this a while after I read it (it wasn't available on Goodreads right away...). So my impressions are a bit fuzzy.

And the theme is war, and loss from war. It's a solid issue, both stories are good. I remember the second one resonating with me more, but looking back at the first one I recall it being good. Although I may have gotten a bit confused about the message. I'm not sure. It didn't stick with me quite as well as the second, but that's a matter of preferenc
...more
Titus Fortner
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A review of Alix Harrow's delightful "Do Not Look Back, My Lion"

A fun short story that examines gender roles and sexual norms and perceptions of strength and weakness and family tensions and the costs of war and the motivations of people to fight them. Well executed in a so few pages..
...more
Elaysee
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elec-own
I enjoyed the voice in the Harrow story, so I looked up what else I'd read of hers. Only one more, which also had a great and completely different voice. Another author for me to keep an eye out for! ...more
Rare
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E Harrow 🔥
Lynn
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Free link to Story: Do Not Look Back, My Lion
(Read July 2020)
Loved the chaotic gender roles. The author brilliantly took advantage of the initial gender confusion so the reader could accept women being the blood-thirsty warriors of a society. Not generally my kind of thing but it made me want to swoon for some reason.
...more
Marco
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review is for Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow.
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Short Fiction category and is, in my opinion, one of the strongest contender to the title.
Eefa is husband to one of her country's greatest, most celebrated warriors: Talaan, also known as the Lion. She performs all the domestic needs a soldier could have. Eefa ra
...more
Kristīne Vītola
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read: "Do Not Look Back, My Lion," by Alix E. Harrow ...more
A.J.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hugos-2020
Read for the 2020 Hugos
Story: "Do Not Look Back, My Lion"

I'm not sure how to review this one without spoilers. It's set in a society that doesn't look much like ours, but you'll figure out the important things about it quickly enough. Or maybe, the society just isn't that important to the plot. (Which, I think makes it important for other reasons.)

So, about the plot. Is it good? Yeah. It's a pretty simple idea: a woman doesn't want her child to be tied up in a never-ending war. She also doesn't
...more
Robbie
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of high fantasy and after a few paragraphs actually considered walking away from this story. However, Harrow did a great job of making it exactly the kind of character-driven, emotionally expressive story that I love. The story is told through the feelings of a healer -- someone whose life's focus is on life and love -- and her response to life in a war-like society. The author created such strong characters and a well defined culture in such a few number of words, which I fou ...more
Norman Cook
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Read online at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2019.
This kind of fantasy is not normally my cup of tea. This story seems fairly straightforward, the conflict coming from one parent trying to protect their children while the other goes out to fight in battle after battle. The ending is certainly poignant. The twist to the story is how Harrow treats gender identities. Both parents are apparently women, but the one who stays home is called husband and the one who goes to war is called wife. The pr
...more
David
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a decent story, but only just a little interesting, and that interest is around how Harrow mixes and stirs hard and soft traits in men and women, and husbands and wives (any combination seems to be possible, though all the characters are cis-gendered). Rebellion against a society continually at war is very thoroughly done, but also very timely, so am not sorry I read it. It's a Hugo nominee for 2019, and will contend. ...more
Andy
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first of the Hugo 2020 short story nominees that I've really felt connected to. Harrow does an awful lot with very little, setting up a very palpable society and running an old style of tale through a more diverse lens. Intriguing and gripping for its brevity, it had an emotional impact. Read in an insomniac 2 am awakening. Good stuff. ...more
Jess
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked a lot of this story, but I find babies being injured really difficult to read which is the main reason I didn’t love this story in the same way I’ve enjoyed other work by Harrow. (The baby is fine! I just hate the thought of people hurting babies because they’re so defenceless.) That said, I did enjoy the way this story tackled gender roles and I really enjoyed Harrow's writing. ...more
William Tracy
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read for 2020 Hugos
An excellent story of a warlike city whose women go to war, often pregnant. There are some clever twists in gender roles, including making "husband" and "wife" not related to gender but to duty. The central theme is of rejecting war and death in favor of life.
...more
Simone
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review is for Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix E. Harrow
David Samuels
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this one for Alix E. Harrow's Stabby-winning short story. Pretty good stuff ...more
Ninja
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Do Not Look Back, My Lion by Alix Harrow.
Women bringing up children in endless war - richly descriptive.
Paul Morisset
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: shorts
Rating for ‘Do Not Look Back, My Lion’ by Alix E. Harrow.
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