Short Story Review: Each to Each by Seanan McGuire


  • Let me start by saying that the June issue of Lightspeed rocks and contains some of the best short stories I’ve read in a while and it’s all contained in one spot – just brilliant stuff from authors such as Seanan McGuire, Kris Millering, Heather Clitherone, N.K. Jemisin, Rhonda Eikamp, Gabriella Stalker, Charlie Jane Anders, Maria Dahvana Headley, Amal El-Mohtar, Elizabeth Porter Birdsall and K.C. Norton.

I cracked the book while sitting in the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Ashville, North Carolina – second floor overlooking the street on a rainy day. While sipping a café latte, I read Each to Each, by Seanan McGuire, a 36 year old Californian who won the 2010 John W Campbell Award for Best New Author for her urban fantasy/detective story entitled, Rosemary and Rue. She also writes stories under a pseudonym of Mira Grant, including a political thriller/zombie trilogy receiving a 2013 Hugo Award nominee, one of 5 nominees she received that year.

Her writing includes a myriad of short stories, over 25 novels, novellas and non-fictional books including 4 filker albums. Filker is stylized folk music written with sci-fi or fantasy lyrics.

Each to Each is the first story of the anthology and with the opening line, you know you’re in for a treat,

”Condensation covers the walls, dimpling into tiny individual drops that follow an almost factual pattern, like someone has been writing out the secrets of the universe in the most transitory medium they can find.  The smell of damp steel assaults my nose as I walk the hall, uncomfortable boots clumping heavily with every step I force myself to take.  The space is tight, confined, unyielding; it is like living inside a coral reef, trapped by the limits of our own necessary shells.  We are constantly envious of those who escape its limitation, and we fear for them at the same time, wishing them safe return to the reef, where they can be kept away from all the darkness and predations of the open sea.”

McGuires’s style is rich in details. You feel as if your being pulled along through the story. So often with Science Fiction and Fantasy, the author must prepare the reader with enough details about the background and the environment they’re reading about that it takes many pages of details to prep the reader. In McGuire’s case the story unfolds as she provides those details allowing for a smooth transition from page to page and you’re never left wondering how something came into play.

Part of Science Fiction is belief – belief that what one is reading in some way is real. And I believe that the Navy had an all female mermaids squad in their service – ready to deploy.

It’s a story about finding yourself struggling with the desire to become a part of the sea and leaving behind human nature, the motives of those in power as they mod humans into super-human and ultimately how the female gender struggle with their identity in a world run by men and the fight of the human-turned-mermaid sisterhood to survive.
I loved the story and all of its implications.  It’s a wonderful story for those who believe in possibilities that aren’t so remote as we think.

  • Series: Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014
    (Women Destroy Science Fiction special issue) (Volume 49)
  • Short Story Title: Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1499508344
  • Cost: $12.34
  • EBook: $3.99

Link to the Short Story: Each to Each