Outposts Of Beyond April 2018 (ebook review).

April 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

I bought this issue because it contains a story by Mike Morgan and an interview with him. I’ve enjoyed a few of his yarns in the past. Happily, there is some other good stuff, too.

‘A Prophecy And The People’ by Beth Powers is a fantasy that plays with the usual tropes. The Bard is at an inn telling townsfolk the prophecy about a chosen one who will free them from the fire king’s rule. He will be of humble birth but a vision of a maiden will launch his career as a hero. It’s ‘Star Wars’! Actually, it’s almost every epic fantasy. This story develops a different approach to tyranny and there’s plenty of action. The background could be used for a novel or ten in which a man of humble birth rises to challenge the fire king. I hope not.

‘Kuro no Ken’ by Mike Morgan starts off looking like a standard fantasy, albeit set in Japan, with our heroine Igarashi Satsuki chasing an evil wizard into a huge graveyard. She carries her cursed Black Sword, the Kuro no Ken. If it cuts you once, you are doomed. Soon enough, the reader discovers that this all takes place a few years in the future, someone mentions the folly of Brexit, when magic has been unleashed on the world and is causing chaos. It’s the Age of Asmodeus and, in the interview with him, author Mike Morgan states that he has written several stories with that setting. This one stands alone just fine and the author, who lived in Japan for a while, gives it verisimilitude with plenty of Japanese words which you may not know but that make sense in context.

I enjoyed the interview with Mike Morgan but that’s because we have a lot in common: born in Britain, comic fans, selling short stories to small press publications, not of the right temperament to pen a novel and bluffing one by doing a series or two against the same background. He’s a better writer, though.

‘The Turning’ by Lisa Timpf is about humanity being assessed to join an alien alliance. Camispe Alvar works with Commander Dubia on the job but doesn’t like him. She quite favours our species but Dubia is wary of our volatile emotions. They set up a special test for war hero Gene Taymor that’s based on an old Earth story. This would have pleased ‘Astounding’ editor John W. Campbell, Jr. because it portrays humans as dangerous critters that other species should beware. It pleased ‘Outposts Of Beyond’ editor Tyree Campbell because it has a dog in it. He’s a sucker for dogs. Writers, if you want to sell Tyree a story, put a brave and lovely dog in it. I liked this one but I’m a sucker for dogs, too.

‘Bellatrix In The Night Sky’ by Kendall Evans starts with the sky falling, not on Chicken Little but on a rich old going senile sculptor, who won a big money prize when he came up with a solution to the Sky flakes problem. This was ingenious and reads like Science Fiction with time travel and carbon filaments but has an unexplained hole in it. No one mentions the sun and that spoiled it for me.

Stories of survey teams on alien planets are always welcome and that’s what Regina Clarke delivers in ‘Sweet Bells Jangled’. Karin heads up a group of disparate, realistic and interesting characters exploring tunnels lined with luminous rock that Earth needs. They work for a corporation: ‘Middle managers who had never left home or faced anything more complex than cutting a budget, at which they usually excelled.’ Good suspense with a satisfactorily scientific denouement and love thrown in. What more could you ask? The title is from Hamlet: ‘Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh.’ I wondered how many titles are taken from Hamlet and found this wiki page for more information, in case you wonder too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_titles_of_works_taken_from_Shakespeare

Sitting beside the stories is plenty of poetry with Science Fiction and fantasy themes. In fact, Alban Lake Publishing has a passion for poetry regardless of rhythm and rhyme. I’m a simple, insensitive soul so it’s not my sort of scene but if you like it, here be hordes.

To sum up: if you like poetry, if you like decent, old-fashioned SF and fantasy tales of the kind that was published in the 1940s and 50s, stories not steeped in misery, stories with a beginning a middle and an end and characters you care about then ‘Outposts Of Beyond’ is the magazine for you and there’s a nice dog in almost every issue.

Eamonn Murphy

April 2018

(pub: Alban Lake Publishing. 30,730 words. Ebook: Price: $ 3.99 (US). Paper: $ 9.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-37041-041-5)

check out websites: http://store.albanlake.com/product/outposts-of-beyond-april-2018/ and www.smashwords.com/books/view/808970

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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