Kzine Issue 28 Kindle Edition (e-mag review).

‘Kzine’ is a little short story magazine made in England. Here’s what you get in issue 28.

Fantasy first. Malame escorts Horflog to see the Old One after which he is sent on a mission to Surpleice, the capital of Aldrag the Benevolent who wishes to become a God. The Old One has the power to create belief. ‘The Belief Ritual’ by Edward Ahern has a fascinating cast of characters and a rich magical background, so it keeps you engaged. My only regret is that they were all so rotten there was no one to like. But real life is like that sometimes, especially politics.

‘Chinaman Jack And The Case Of The Awfully Slim Fellow’ is one of those Victorian romps in which a group of fellows sit around in their club drinking whiskey and listening to the hero recount his latest adventure. Chinaman Jack is a famous occult investigator and the awfully slim fellow seems to appear in photographs looming over the family who are his victims. Author Paul Dicken nicely captured the language and tone of the era in this effective pastiche.

‘And Let England Shake’ by Ken McGrath is in the same vein with the modern twist that the heroic character is female and her companions are male partners. Miss Joanna Featherstone has escaped from her Victorian kitchen to deal with the Orbital Rift Divider Engine, aided by Jeff Greene and Professor Walter McGonagle. The adventure starts at the Great Exhibition and involves mysterious and powerful Grey Men. Airships feature. The world needs saving and only Joanna has the bolas to do it, along with some daggers. Pure entertainment.

Featuring slightly different spelling, William McGonagall shows up again in ‘The Muse Loves A Tryer’ by Maureen Bowden. Here it’s the real McCoy, the great Scottish poet most infamous for ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’. Tessa and George Aubrey run a small auction house and think their fortune is made when young Owen Lovatt turns up with an original manuscript by McGonagall. I won’t spoil the plot, but it has fantasy elements and is both amusing and satisfying, with a message perhaps for poor struggling artists. Author Bowden is sound on economics: ‘The recession held us all in a grip as tight as a banker’s smile’. She’s good on poetry, too. Tessa thinks Shakespeare’s Sonnet 135 is borderline porn and, having just read it, I think she’s right.

‘Intrusive Thoughts’ by Don Norum works by staying tight to the character’s point of view and following his thoughts in a stressful situation. Seminary student Jacob Mehring is in a difficult position when a woman knocks at his door. She seems to be distressed, and he feels duty-bound to help. It keeps you guessing.

‘On The Internet No One Knows You’re A Werewolf’ is an honest title for the story by Danielle Jorgenson Murray because it’s all about the Internet versus real life. Alysha has been bitten by a werewolf and will change for the first time at the next full moon. She needs to join a pack. But Alysha is a blogger, pining for likes and follows, so she launched a site called ‘Starter Pack’ giving advice to new werewolves. In this setting, the creatures are part of everyday life, even to the extent of a legal right to time off when the moon is full. An entertaining ponder on peer pressure and fitting in. It’s great to be old and long past all that.

Graeme Hurry is one of those editors who can work wonders with a small budget so, as ever, ‘Kzine’ offers quality entertainment at a bargain price. Not every story will hit with every reader but, overall, it’s a good selection and for less than the price of a pint. Furthermore, you can read it after 10pm. Hurray!

Eamonn Murphy

October 2020

(pub: Kimota Publishing. 93 page e-mag. File Size: 2416kB. Price: £ 2.15 (UK), $ 2.74 (US) ASIN: B08JSQY8BL

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