Two Moons: Stories (2018) by Krystal A. Smith, published by BLF Press, founded by Stephanie Andrea Allen, Ph.D, is the simplest joy you can give yourself, especially if you are Black and a lover of speculative work. A few years ago, it was rare to find a gem such as this. You had to hunt for it. But now, especially with more focus on the work of Octavia E. Butler, there have been more ways Black writers are creating weird worlds.
Smith’s work is different from than something Butler might work with, taking on a dreamy, serene style. Butler, I would say, is more interested in terrifying her readers, which I’m all for. But I also like how Smith is using this genre to explore something new, and just as I would recommend anything from Butler, I would definitely recommend this as well.
As I was reading, I felt like a child, remembering when I would question everything, asking my father in the car if the moon was following us. Here, in the short story “Two Moons” named after the collection, Smith takes this curiosity and creates a love story between the moon and a woman. It’s a story about distance, barriers, and longing to reach past those barriers.
All these stories seem to be around this idea of passing obstacles, difficulties, and Smith crafts a way to navigate those barriers through imagination. There are stories about shapeshifters and coming face to face with a chatty and obsessive heart, repeatedly stating, “you are loved. You are enough. Between your head and heart you will feel right much. But you are loved in this universe and in the next. You are enough,” when a woman decides she is tired of being vulnerable. There are also stories about goddesses that give life in the most unthinkable ways and goddesses that literally sprout life through nature.
Smith seems to be allowing her readers to search, to run wild, and to fall in love for what reaches toward us. Smith has also found a way to make dreams beautiful again, by telling her readers in the first story, through the 3rd person ‘you,’ writing, “you couldn’t stop your eyes from growing wide or your breath from clogging up your throat and for the first time you believed in space to breathe, in a place you could belong, in magic,” letting her readers escape at a time where we need it most.
Krystal A. Smith is a Black lesbian writer of poetry and speculative fiction. Her poems have appeared in Tulips Touching (2011) and recent short stories have appeared in Summer Love: Stories of Lesbian Holiday Romance (2015), and Lez Talk: A Collection of Black lesbian Fiction (2016).
Cover Art: Mirlande Jean-Gilles
Cover Design: Lauren Curry