Perihelion Online Science Fiction Magazine December 2015 (emag review).

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‘Perihelion SF’ is an on-line magazine issued on the 12th of every month and this is a review of the December issue. It features an editorial, a couple of factual articles and much fiction. ‘More Than “Zarathustra’ by Dennis W. Green is a piece about the music in Science Fiction films. ‘When Words Divine’ by John McCormick looks at prediction in Science Fiction. Both are worth reading. Editor Sam Bellotto Jr. has a few words about beer (should that be Sam Blotto, Jr.?) and there are some comic strips but I’ll focus on the prose fiction’


The first story is ‘This Is The Hardest Thing I Do All Day’ by Alexandra Grunberg. BB is a small, outdated robot in an office where data in radio waves is transmitted from a black hole is recorded and printed out. Sometimes the printer goes on the blink and shakes and spits out paper or jams, as printers will. BB sticks his arms in and fixes it. Peter works in the office, often at night and keeping an eye on things. All the equipment is old because the company won’t buy new just to record the same old data from a black hole. Peter falls in love with co-worker Rose. The condition of being in love is nicely described by the author. BB might be in love, too. This is a low key tale of the ordinary people who perform routine scientific jobs sometimes.

‘Mycelium’ by Fábio Fernandes packs a lot into a very short story. Ariana, a kinocchio, arrives by nulltime bubble at a mining asteroid and attempts to retrieve data from a research team who have been trying to use fungi for chemotelepathy. The background of human civilisation, virtually wiped out in one fell swoop by some unknown enemy has great potential, especially with the technologies introduced here. This rich vein really could be used for a novel or a series.

‘Sixteen Tonnes’ by Robert Dawson is good old-fashioned SF set in Luna City. Mark and his apprentice Elodie are carving a new tunnel when an explosion traps her under a rock and pins down his air tube so he can barely move. The resolution of this problem nicely ties up some personal and economic issues raised in the build-up of the story. Great stuff. I have a weakness for tales of ordinary working Joes set in the future as not all futures seem to have room for us.

In the first person narration of ‘It’s Not What You Think’ by Davyne DeSye, we enter the mind of Rink, a dangerous psychopath. That mind has been put into a robot body for therapy. Is it the biochemical reactions of her body that make her a maniac? Freed of them, in metallic form with programmed restraints on her actions, will she become less dangerous; even nice? The author, who one presumes is reasonably nice, does a good job of making the angry viewpoint character believable. I’m all in favour of mind transfer to an immortal robot body eventually and wouldn’t mind a pair of bionic knees to be going on with.

The lunacy theme continues with ‘Dreams of Clay’ by J. Rohr. Three scientists believe they can increase human intelligence to another level – ‘three dimensional thinking’ – by using an hallucinogenic but need funding for research. They get it from one of those ruthless big pharmaceutical companies but the test subjects tend to go crazy. The story is told in the first person by Matt Huntley, one of the three, and reads like a cross between Robert Silverberg (when he’s exploring inner space) and Philip K. Dick. Heavy stuff and very well done.

In ‘Mundane Applications’ by Philip Margolies, journalist Ray visits physicist Roberta, whose building a time machine in her garage. Shortly after, they are joined by Isaac, a Science Fiction writer, and Cecelia, a senator. References to Harry Potter and Voldemort, Matt Smith’s Doctor and ‘Game Of Thrones’ give the background as our own day. The smart girls are bitter enemies in this clever story and the men are just helpless bystanders.

Time travel of a different sort features in ‘Cohabitant’ by Eric Del Carlo. In a tough future war, there’s a transtemporal emergency unit which can catapult the psyche of a soldier about to die further into the future where the war has been won. However, whoever receives the past soldier’s psyche has to give up their own life and take care of the one now sharing their skull, a tradition to honour the glorious heroes who gave them peace and prosperity. It doesn’t happen often – the transtemporal experiment was short lived – but it happens to Armando Frank. Two people sharing a body has been done before in SF but this is an original slant on the problem and Del Carlo handles it well. The conclusion is sensible and satisfying.

In a hi-tech future where nearly everyone has implants, the man whose body rejects them will be like a cripple. He might get bitter. Gustavo Bondoni’s ‘My Parking Space Is Near The Door’ examines this situation. I felt some sympathy for the protagonist as the smartphone generation have long since left me stranded when it comes to technical capability.

The fiction winds down nicely with some shorter stories. In ‘Clothes Make The Man’, Dimitri Petrov boards the Earth/Mars transport dressed in ‘cookie-cutter silver utilitards’ which everyone wears. Everyone, except fellow passenger Craig Jackson who sports a blue suit, carries an old-fashioned satchel with unusual properties and declares a fondness for westerns, forbidden in this future under the safe, stifling government regulations. The theme is rebellion against conformity. Author Peter Wood wrote ‘Spaceman Barbecue’ in Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures’ which I reviewed last month and enjoyed hugely. I liked this shorter story just as much.

‘For All Time’ by Simon Kewin is an inter-species love story with a man and an Azurite female who will outlive him by a couple of centuries. He finds a sort of solution to this. ‘People in love do funny things’, as the song said. Quite touching.

Finally, ‘You Belong To Me’ by Tom Borthwick has a technologically modified man looking for someone in a drab bar. It’s a future when nearly everyone has tech modifications of some sort. It set the scene, seemed about to start being a story and stopped. I didn’t get the ending but subtlety often eludes me.

As ever with these small, semi-professional magazines I am surprised by the quality of the stories. Breaking into professional writing has always been hard but even the lesser magazines having stuff this good, it must be very difficult right now. I suppose the number of people attending university has resulted in a vast swarm of well-educated authors.

There are links to four previous issues available if you liked this one and, best of all, Perihelion SF is free! Obviously donations are welcome from grateful readers.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2015

(Emag: Price: FREE! ISSN 2328-675X)

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Category: Magazines, Scifi

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  1. Pete Wood says:

    Thanks for your kind words about my story. I’m glad you liked Clothes Make the Man (and Spaceman Barbecue)

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