The sign of a good magazine is that it considers its potential readership and tries to include items that will appeal to all those that might pick it up and flick through, catching the attention enough to make the browser want to buy. In this issue, although the focus is, as usual, on the fiction, it is worth noting the other regular columns.
Along with Amanda Hollander’s excellent and atmospheric poem ‘The Drowned One’, there are book recommendations from Charles De Lint and Elizabeth Hand. Jerry Oltion’s science column explains clearly phenomena we take for granted, in this case the possible reasons why a full moon appears larger when it is closer to the horizon.
The cover, by Bob Eggleton, illustrates Phoenix Alexander’s ‘One Day I Will’. If there is other sentient life out in the universe, the imagination probably can’t encompass its reality. In this story, the planet itself is sentient and lonely. It wants companionship. It is hoping that the ship of humans that has arrived in orbit may hold the answer.
Meg Elison’s story, ‘In The Dream’ has an intriguing premise. Amongst the crew on the journey to Mars is a designated sleeper. It means that other members of the crew can stay at their tasks while the sleeper gives them extra wake-time. Normally, all the sleeper’s hours are allocated but, on this voyage, the newest crew member doesn’t take all her wake-time, allowing the sleeper to have some hours awake. The story revolves around the consequences of this.
While these stories are SF, fantasy is represented by ‘The Summer Dives’ by Samantha Murray. In this coastal village, twice a year, the women dive into the sea to catch truths. Often one of them does not come back. There are two aspects to the story. One concerns Brin, born male but needing to dive, the other is what happens to those that don’t come back.
‘Le Sorcier de Lascaux’ by Douglas Schwarz is a contemporary fantasy with historical links. Danielle is commissioned to paint a copy of the cave paintings at Lascaux since the breath of visitors is damaging them. She finds that the figures that she paints come alive. That is fine when they are vegetarians but the carnivore is a danger to people. She has to find a way to banish them.
The rewriting of traditional tales is common in fantasy. In ‘Tangle Her In Quicksilver’ by Gerri Leen is the Snow White story told from the point of view of the mirror. For horror, there is ‘Wolf Shape’ by C.B. Blanchard, in which Isobel believes she has seen a wolf, but no-one believes her.
For me, the most memorable story is ‘The Cottage In Omena’ by Charles Andrew Oberndorf. This is a near future novella with touches of horror. It is also a very human story concentrating on the reactions and relationships between the characters. A range of new diseases have been sweeping the world and, in the USA, travel between states is only permitted for those who have had all relevant vaccinations. That can prove expensive. It is for this reason that the holiday cottage by the lake has been unused for five years. Now, a developer is interested in buying it so Claire visits for one last time and to show the developer round the property.
During the story, the events of the last visit are divulged and the disease that has driven people away. It not only looks at the repercussions of it sweeping the nation but also the role friendships play in the way Claire and her old friend and neighbour, Wendy, react to circumstances and consider different perspectives. The strength of this story is in the characterisation, the disease playing a secondary role.
There are other stories in this issue and the range caters for a wide range of tastes.
(pub: Spilogale Inc. 260 page A5 magazine. Price: $ 9.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISSN: 1095-8258)
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