Uncanny Magazine Issue number 9 March/April 2016 (emag review).

March 17, 2016 | By | Reply More

The modern view of fiction is that a short story is best told from a single point of view. ‘Love Is Never Still’ by Rachel Swirsky not only has multiple viewpoints but they include a man, a statue, other inanimate objects and Greek gods.


Galatea is the name a sculptor gives to the beautiful lady he is carving from a piece of ivory. When he falls in love with her, he prays to Aphrodite to bring her to life, which doesn’t work out as well as he hoped. The point of view skips between the sculpted and the sculptor, each normally having a paragraph or two. Then it expands to include Aphrodite, married to Hephaestus but occasionally enjoying the favours of Ares, god of war. Increasingly, the gods are drawn into the story which is essentially about love. A very unusual piece of work but as cleverly paced as a best-selling thriller and beautifully written. Two cultural items sprang to mind as I read: the first was ’I Pity Inanimate Objects’ by Godley and Crème and the second was ‘And Now for Something Completely Different’ by Monty Python, because in narrative technique, style and vision, this certainly was that. I was unsurprised to read in the closing notes that the author has won two Nebula Awards. There’s an interview with her later this issue in which she describes how this story went through many drafts. Well, it came good in the end.

‘The Shadow Collector’ by Shveta Thakrar is another fantasy in a similar style, though it sticks with one point of view character. He is Rajesh, who grows girls from flowers in the Queen’s garden. The Queen likes to play her wooden flute and Rajesh has a bad habit of stealing shadows from people, birds, squirrels and anything else. He’s been doing it for a while and now has a fine collection of silhouettes. A whimsical sort of tale but nicely written. The progress of the plot is as stately as the prose but it does have one and a neat ending, too.

Max Gladstone contributes ‘Big Thrull And The Askin’ Man’. It opens with a narrator describing Thrull as the ‘biggest, greenest, meanest, nastiest, and dirtiest of us all’ and requesting you to sit down and pour some hard stuff while he tells you about Thrull and the Askin’ Man. Thrull is a female who sleeps on a thorny bed and eats bones as well as meat. Askin’ Man was small and slick, with leather shoes and a briefcase and clockwork innards. He asks for a drink of water. Then if he can stay and so on. Most of us have met an Askin’ Man at some point in our lives. It was a nice little fable.

Cresa puts out food for a wolf whose ‘scrawny and boyish in his ill fitting humanity’ which was bestowed on him when he was forced to leave the tower. As the plot of ‘The Wolf And The Tower Unwoven’ by Kelly Sandoval develops, we find out there’s more to Cresa than first meets the eye.

‘Uncanny Magazine’ was all fantasy up to this point but ‘The Artificial Bees’ by Simon Guerrier is a Science Fiction story about a robot visiting a garden and the gardener on a future Earth. To describe it in any more detail would be to spoil it. Suffice to say that it was charming and thought-provoking. Simon Guerrier is also interviewed in this issue about this yarn and his franchise work on ‘Doctor Who’.

As they pulled him out of the oxygen tent, Mister Jones asked for the latest party. The orderlies took him to a television room where they gave him a birthday cake as a lot of decrepit old people sat around watching. On television, there was fighting. ‘Look at those cavemen go!’ said someone. They took him to bed. When he woke, the lights were low. Fans of David Bowie should find some of the words above familiar.

In ‘Just Another Future Song’, author Daryl Gregory has the late lamented singer in a fantasy world or perhaps a virtual reality, struggling to regain his memory and escape from residential care. There’s a Pinter-esque sense of menace to the ‘care’ home and a satisfying conclusion. It was originally appeared in ‘Glitter And Mayhem’ in 2013 but this is certainly a timely reprint.

There is quite a lot of non-fiction. Jim C. Hines thinks we should be less tolerant of old racist authors like H.P. Lovecraft and that historical context is no excuse for their attitudes. Kyell Gold thinks we should be more tolerant of people who dress up as their favourite furry fantasy characters. Why not? This made me think of that ‘CSI’ episode where Grissom investigates a convention of furry folk. It also reminded me of an interview with Michael Moorcock in which he referred to talking animal fantasy as ‘Pixieshit’. Michael should be more tolerant. Javier Grillo-Marxuach writes about how famous George R.R. Martin is nowadays, so busy doing talk shows that he may not have time to finish his ‘magnificent octopus’ to quote Baldric from ‘Blackadder’. Surely Blackadder should have been more tolerant of Baldric: historical context is no excuse.

Mark Oshiro writes about the blurring of boundaries between fans and professionals as fans become professional at writing about writers and their writing. Some, like him, even making a living at it. Well, with such a lot of fiction about, not to mention films and television, there’s bound to be an increase in the non-fiction written about it. We should all be more tolerant of people writing about fiction. Reviewers, especially, need more love.

I approached the poetry warily as much modern stuff seems to lack not only rhyme and rhythm but meaning, too, at least for an old fogy bought up on the classics. Happily, ‘Foxgirl Cycle Song:1’ by C.S.E. Cooney had rhyme, rhythm and made sense. I certainly won’t mess with Foxgirl. I hope she gets her own comic and television show with a Foxmobile and a Foxcave and everything. The other poetry made sense and did nothing for me but the fault is surely with my own insensitive nature and not with the authors worthy work.

This was my first issue of ‘Uncanny Magazine’ and I enjoyed the experience so will probably do it again. Comparisons are odious, they say, but for the quality of the stories it’s on a par with the venerable ‘Magazine Of Fantasy And Science-Fiction’ and higher praise than that I cannot give. The non-fiction was tolerable.

Eamonn Murphy

March 2015

(pub: Uncanny Magazine. Black & white Kindle edition. Price: £2.61 (UK). ASIN: B017AT4OFU)

check out website: http://uncannymagazine.com/issues/uncanny-magazine-issue-nine/


Category: Fantasy, Magazines, Scifi

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