So here we are at the final edition of 2015.
I can’t believe what a year we’ve had. We’ve been chuffed for all the nominations for awards that our writers have got, and to have been a part of that process. For 2014 stories in our mag to have been recognised in several different countries, in several Best of Year anthologies, is truly humbling for us.
The magazine is undergoing a bit of a renovation in its processes, in its quality and content. Evolving is a quite challenging process and we’re keen to be better.
I feel like this edition is not any different. It came together, not with any particular aim, but this edition has drawn together a collection of female voices in a variety of worlds. It has a finishing understated hopefulness that I feel is a wonderful rounding off to the year.
Mimi shouldn’t be walking; androids on their own, without a distinct purpose, frighten humanity. From one misadventure to another, Mimi brings out the best and worst in people. A poignant look at humanity and its fears in a time of technology. SY
Mimi is walking along the path that separates the park from the river, enjoying the whispering spray of rain on her face and the smell of wet grass. The concrete is wet beneath her feet, the occasional wind-blown leaf damp and clinging where normally they crunch underfoot. She is lost in the sensation of cold, of slickness against her skin. Her fault, in a way: lost, and daydreaming, drowning herself in her surroundings instead of maintaining constant awareness. Pleasure is the enemy of survival, at least for those like Mimi. Vigilance. Caution. Wariness. These are the safe words, the keys to survival. Mimi knows the lessons, knows the cant and recital. And still, caught between rain and river and park, she forgets.
They corner her where the path skirts an ancient tree, hair-pinning around its thick, gnarled trunk so that it is easy for them to step out—some to either side— and pinch the path closed like a kinked tube. Mimi retreats before them, until the iron railings pressing into her back are the only thing that keep her from pitching into the water behind her.
Cassie wakes up to find a puppy in place of her partner. This relationship just goes to show that not everything is better with a dog. A bit of strange fiction focusing on what can’t always be fixed. SY
When Cassie woke, she smiled at me in a way she hadn’t in a very long time.
“Hello,” she said in a condescending baby voice.
Even worse, she pulled me onto her lap and scratched me under the chin. I felt the full sensation of my form. My body was much smaller than it had been the night before and her hands running up and down my back let me know I was also much hairier. I looked down. I had paws, tiny yellow paws. I tried to look behind me, it was harder than expected and I ended up running in circles on the bed until I heard Cassie laughing. I had a tail, a tail that wagged when she looked so happy. It was strange, and I didn’t know why, but it appeared that I had turned into a dog
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
When The Ghost of Matter popped up in my social media feed, shared by New Zealand writer friends as one of the soon to be released Paper Road Press Shortcuts series, both the title and the hauntingly stark cover intrigued me.
Marina is the good girl, the prodigal daughter, but finds it hard to fit in. On a late night excursion she makes some older friends by an old war relic who aren’t quite sure why she’s there. A story mixing new world and the unsung heroines of the past. SY
Ghosts are like war, inviting curiosity until either is experienced. Then people realize why both are better avoided. I was twelve when I found one, and then the other.
The gun pointed right at us. Its long, slender barrel gaped open at the end, large enough to swallow my arm past the elbow, if I risked inserting it.
Our little group filed from the bus behind the teacher and toward the museum. Girls chatted. Boys punched or otherwise abused one another while rushing inside.
“Hey Marina,” one of my classmates said while holding open the door with three other girls. “Guess what?”
“Go away.” She closed the door in my face.
Pranks are hard to avoid when denied even time to react.
In part two of Stolen Moments, Mantisia learns all she can of magic from the doomed Sarbeth. Mantisia has a plan to free him from the bargain with the eternal Valinah, maybe at the cost of her own short life. The conclusion of Lindsey Duncan’s mythic fantasy. SY
Mantisia, Age Twenty-Three
We came to the city of Sherig two days later. Sarbeth had ten tomes of magic with him; I had memorized every word. I had never concentrated on something so intently, and the gestures of power flowed through my veins. I could lift small objects with a thought and create illusions that danced in the darkness.
He was a patient teacher, always gentle with corrections, and he understood the furious pace of my mind. I devoured every scrap of history and lore. The pride in his gaze was a light, and I felt I could speak to him in a look, as I had once imagined Silt did—words of hope, words of discovery and words of the future. It was a future neither of us had, and it bound us.
I had two hours before dark, two luminous hours of freedom. I toured the city, gone mad with sensations. I heard the sussurus of fabric as people drifted past; saw fraying ribbons of paint on signs and wall-murals; tasted brick-dust and baker’s yeast on the air. Every scene—things that flashed past others as nothing more than dim impressions—was an endless story.
Shania Lenton has always had no compunctions about going for what she needed to advance. This time, it means investigating what is holding her back. The past catches up with everyone, but in this science fiction world, Shania brings it on herself. SY
Shania Lenton looked into the ReflectME window on her digital wall. She had her office door locked and to herself. The woman gazing back at her was the very picture of the cool, no-nonsense businesswoman, an image she had cultivated over the last twenty years. Twenty years of victories big and small. Some, she reflected, at heavy costs, looking at her naked ring finger. But success, especially of the scope she had achieved, demanded sacrifice.
Like a trip to the Undercity. But what she had acquired there was worth the breach in civic protocol. Shania opened an inconspicuous-looking micro-refrigerator bottle and shook a thin, metallic capsule into the palm of her hand. She scowled at the way her hand trembled.
The innocuous greeting chime of her personal Intra-Health advisor application reminded her why she was holding a Neuro-Fountain.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
Like most of us, during the month of October, I enjoy spooky stories, movies, and TV programs. I like to feel the goosebumps, to keep looking over my shoulder at every little noise, to be afraid to turn off the light when I’m reading in bed. So this month, I chose a novel that was recommended in a Top 10 list on Best Horror Movies.com. Their listing described the book as “completely terrifying.” I’m sorry to say that the description did not hold true for me.
Little Girls is a modern story about a woman (Laurie) who travels to a rural town to oversee the sale of her recently deceased (and estranged) father’s estate. Her husband and daughter accompany her as well. As the story progresses, we learn that Laurie did not have a close relationship to her father, and left with her mother at a young age. We also learn about a childhood “friend” named Sadie, who wasn’t a friend at all, but tormented Laurie in very disturbing ways. Sadie died a tragic death on the property as a child , and as Laurie goes through the motions of tying up her father’s business, long-buried memories resurface about Sadie. Read the rest of this entry
Hanza makes a little girl’s mistake on the mountain and pays for it with her life. Being a monster is a lonely life, and eventually even the adventurers forget her. A poignant exploration of the intertwining of nature and myth. SY
“One berry for you, two berries for me, three berries for the one nobody can see,” the little girl sang.
Plop, plop, plop, answered the plump, red berries as they landed in her pail.
“Four berries for Mama, five berries for Da, and six berries for Nana so she won’t be sad.”
Plop, plop, plop.
The little girl, called Hanza, brushed a long golden braid over her shoulder and wiped her brow with the back of her hand. It was a good day, with a warm, bright sun and a gentle breeze, and Hanza was happy to be in the forest picking juicy berries, since no one was there to stop her from putting a berry in her mouth for every three that went in her pail. By the time her pail was heavy, Hanza’s sweet mouth begged for a cool drink, so she searched for a stream.
The old man barely has time to get off before the young man takes the bike. Adrift in his own time stream, making his own mistakes, the man only ever seeks to return home. A wonderful take on losing what we don’t appreciate and the perils of science we don’t understand. SY
His parents being away, the youth was lounging in his father’s den, flicking through the dirty magazines hidden in the desk, when there came a crash from the basement, like a drawer full of cutlery upended onto tiles.
Gleaming under the harsh strip-lights, in the middle of the concrete floor was a machine sleek as a space-cycle from Captain Video, something built for heroes.
The old man, who looked like the youth’s grandfather of memory, was struggling to dismount. He pressed a trembling hand to his chest.
Who could he trust with the time-engine now but himself?