Fantasy Reviews Fantasy Short Stories Reviews: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Shorts: Visible Cities

Visible Cities is filled with mesmerizing imagery of places hidden in plain sight, featuring oddities and alternate realities that defy explanation. I’m new to this world Pollack has created, but I found myself enthralled by this character and her abilities as she tries to find her lost teacher. It’s infinitely inventive writing that will set your imagination aflame.


Rachel Pollack
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2018


A woman discovers she has magical abilities and finds a teacher who shows her how to use them, helping her uncover the secrets of the magical world. When he disappears without explanation, she searches for him within the Visible Cities. The best description for the story is within the various settings. To sum it up, it’s like watching a big-budget alternate reality film with brilliant writing and flawless visuals.


We follow a woman who stumbles into her magical abilities. She makes the novice mistake of second guessing herself the minute her teacher disappears. She is stuck until she’s released by him, even though she’s eminently capable thanks to his lessons. She gets to experience all of these cities and grows as a person by figuring out how to integrate herself within each of these vastly different societies. The supporting characters in all of the towns add to the magic and the almost Alice in Wonderland-like absurdity of these settings.


The settings are the key parts of this story and provide the backdrop for so many fascinating scenes. There are six in total, though there may be more not covered within this story:

  • Shame, a quirky yet dark city filled with criminals whose punishment is to wear their crimes tattooed on their sleeves
  • Age, a segregated city where the young are almost animalistic, cast out in the streets, while those above age 35 live wealthy lives
  • Shadows, a city where all interactions happen between shadows
  • Show, where everything is presented as something it’s not
  • Time, where people try to find meaning in time and worship it
  • Mortua, a city of the dead

They’re all beautifully written and so imaginative. I could spend hours reading about each of these cities – they’re that creative and well-written.


Magic, Alternate Reality

Interested in more stories like Visible Cities? Check out more reviews in our The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction section.

Photo by Sercan SOLMAZ on Unsplash

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