It is always good to see a magazine publishing new writers and encouraging those at the start of their careers. It is also a delight to find new work for established writers. In this issue, the lead story comes from John Shirley whose extensive publishing career began 1979 with the novel ‘Transmaniacon’.
The excellent novelette published here is ‘Sacrificial Drones’. The events in this future world have threads linking them to those in the past of Jacob Maweela. He is a driven man, determined to help those who cannot help themselves. It interweaves a lot of current issues taking a sideways look at such things as climate change, corruption in the Rare Earth industry, insects as food. It also tackles gender issues and rejuvenation as natural parts of society. This issue is to be recommended if only for this story.
There are however, other stories that intrigue. A number of writers have explored the idea of sentient space-going craft. In ‘Though The Heavens Fall’, Louis Evens has given these ships a hierarchy and a protocol to adhere to. Carmine is an elder and a judgeship and comes across two other ships entwined in a dispute about a runaway cyborg. It is Carmine’s solution to the situation that is the thrust of the story.
Synaesthesia, the interpretation of sound as colour, is an accepted phenomenon and relates to how the brain interprets the signals it receives. In the world created by Bennett North in ‘The Shotgun Lucifer’, the people register sound as vision. Without sound they are unable to ’see’. The thrust of the story is the meeting between Vee and Delia. The latter can see in what we recognise as the normal way. The delight of this story is the way the two ways of seeing the world are contrasted.
Difference also lies behind ‘Child Of Two Worlds’ by Vida Cruz-Borja. Both a sorceress and a wise woman laid claim to the infant Adelfa. They came to an arrangement whereby the child spends half the week with each of them and would choose her path at sixteen. She is pressurised by both women and needs to find her way out of the dilemma.
A lot of the stories in this issue focus on the choices that women have to make. The world in ‘Optimist Cleaver’s Last Transmission’ by J.C. Hsyu is a bleak future but the story is about the character rather than the setting. Optimist Cleaver is a courier with messages being passed from hand to hand – literally. This time she is being given the run-around and being lured into a fight with a figure from her past.
Juniper, the female narrator of ‘Crypt Currency’ by Sara Ellis is a supplier of items needed by sorcerers for their spells. It often involves grave robbing. When she is hired to steal a whole body, she discovers this is part of a slave trafficking set-up. This is a story of morality and hope as Juniper battles the odds to rescue the victim.
As the end of the year approached, many magazines include a seasonal story. In ‘Santa Knows’ by Jo Miles, technology has caught up with Christmas. An app called Santa Knows has spread world-wide and is scaring children. It gives them naughty points for things they do wrong and seems to be spying on them. When letters from children start complaining to Santa about this, the Santa’s decide they have to do something about it. It is a light-hearted story with a warning for those who think apps are a good idea.
There are other stories in this issue, including flash fiction, and poems as well as the usual columns with Jerry Oltion’s science column discussing the colour blue.
(pub: Spilogale Inc. 260 page A5 magazine. Price: $ 9.99 (US), $10.99 (CAN). ISSN: 1095-8258)
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