Phantaxis: Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine May 2017 # 5 (emag review)

July 28, 2017 | By | Reply More

‘Phantaxis’ is a magazine of Science Fiction and fantasy short stories and novelettes. I found it doing market research and bought it to read on a well-known book website. The electronic version is cheap for 224 pages of good stuff.

Really good stuff, to be fair. The first novelette, ‘Thinking Outside The Flock’ by Sarina Dorie would not be out of place in professional-paying magazines though it sounds a bit daft when described. Well, very daft. It’s set in a future where mankind has fallen on hard times and is ruled, not unkindly, by giant alien chickens. I should say sentient beings who resemble chickens. Lacking manual dexterity but big on brain, they worked in partnership with another race to get here. Our young hero is a human named Quetzalcoatl and, in rituals organised for men and girls, he is pursuing the goal of every young human male. He’s trying to get laid. However, I do not wish to trivialise the intent of this wonderful story which slowly fills in the background and raises the stakes for a gripping conclusion. It was absolutely terrific.

Near the end of the magazine is another great novelette or possibly novella by R.K. Duncan entitled ‘The House Of Guan.’ It has an oriental setting complete with elaborate rituals. Ma Jian gets mixed up in the dynastic squabbles of a great House when the father dies and the evil son sets fire to the will which left everything to his heroic sister. Ma Jian is more of a poet than a hero and his struggle to do the right thing without getting killed makes for a tense tale. The yarn is littered with small Haiku style verses which are not at all bad.

The content in between these two pieces would be hard pressed to match them and, to be honest, doesn’t quite but it’s still quality fiction. ‘A Cloud On Fire’ by Jason Lairamore is about a Rifter named Tervel Lampkin. He’s a sort of travel writer who takes his ship through wormholes and then sends live reports back home to the waiting Worm Sport audience. The top Rifter is Mars-born Regen Barl and they’re all in competition to find the jackpot, living intelligent aliens. This was entertaining.

‘The Eschatologist’ by Joseph Aitken is a black comedy about salesmen who deal in death. The first person narrator makes an appointment to see one and the story is basically their conversation which takes many interesting turns. Clever and original.

Robert B. Allen’s ‘The Binding Of A Thread’ is a love story spread over several centuries. ‘Communion’ by William Suboski is set on a primitive world where a desperate man takes his frozen dead daughter in search of a fabled witch to bring her back to life. It’s touching with an interesting background.

‘95 South’ by N. Immanuel Velez maintains the quality of this issue. Avery is driving away for a few days off when he sees a light in the sky which descends into the woods. Nobly, he goes to investigate, fearing it might be a crashed aeroplane. He finds a strange hovering ball of light with a spinning disc in its centre. He takes it home. This is another heart-warming tale of family values.

‘Don’t Dimension It’ by Richard Zwicker is one of those dimensional/time travel pieces where the author has fun with far out Science Fictional possibilities. After some mishaps, Christian Towne finds himself in a place where time runs backwards so everyone’s getting younger. At one point he is ‘suspended in mid-air like a comicbook thought balloon‘. Zwicker has an anthology out and I liked this so much I added his ‘Walden Planet And Other Stories’ to my wish list, partly because I have soft spot for Walden.

There are three flash fiction stories, too, but they were in a format unreadable on my device. I’m not a big fan of flash anyway. I am a big fan of short stories and novelettes and was very pleased with this purchase. My only quibble is that the flash fiction and author bios were too small to read on my kindle.

‘Phantaxis’ is a great buy and worth every penny. Recommended.

Eamonn Murphy

July 2017

(pub: Phantaxis. 224 page emag 3476kB. Price: £ 2.68 (UK), $ 3.47 (US). ASIN: B0714JQZ6W)

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Category: Fantasy, Magazines, Scifi

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