This edition we have a slate of newcomers to SQ Mag. We begin with a conspicuously different and bizarre tale from Rob Francis, Detestiny. I will never look at a prize the same way again. Lo, Behold These Many Gods and Mike Abramson will lead you across the galaxy, to individual truths. In Daemiel Watches, Cynthia J. McGean explores the discarded, the dark recesses of our past human follies and foibles. And speaking of follies, Purity by Les Zigomanis envisions the age-old worry on unplanned consequences. Beth Deitchman bedevils us in La Voshnikaya in a most alluring way.
When I saw the clown hatch from the egg, it all made sense. Of course they weren’t human. Who the hell would grow up and decide to become one of them? I can’t say that it all fit together—zoologically speaking—of course, but then I don’t know much about all that. There’s all sorts of weird shit out there, and when I won the big black shell at the showground I knew there would be some kind of trick to it. Who gives away a fifteen-kilo egg as a prize in a guess-the-jellybeans-in-the-jar game? Calling it a ‘fortune egg’ did nothing to further its appeal. I didn’t even want the bloody thing. The show hands had to push it to the car in a wheelbarrow.
So in the garage it went, covered with an old dust sheet. I would’ve forgotten all about it, but about a week later I went in to get some wax to buff my Mini Cooper. As soon as I got through the door I heard a loud tapping from the egg. Pulling back the sheet, I saw that it was already cracked. As I watched, a section of shell was pushed out by a meaty paw, and a pudgy white face thrust itself into the gap. Its lips and eyes were black, its ears red. It looked like an obscene baby.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
Urban fantasy is one of those genres that is pretty saturated right now. Therefore, finding a real gem among the vast sea of titles is quite the challenge. When asked to review this one, I was a little leery that it might be one of a myriad of similar stories, but I’m happy to say that Vigil definitely stands out from the crowd.
A Franciscan monk slips among the stars, in communion with other species, spreading his word. Where the journey will take him next, he knows not, nor what awaits at the end of his road. Mike Abramson brings us on a journey of discovery. SY
To step out upon the plane of the universe is a consummately spiritual experience; and deeply terrifying.
The universe is infinite. A human being is finite but connected to infinity through consciousness and the ability to conceive of something greater than self. In this burgeoning age when humans have spread their seed among the stars, a few among us have not forgotten our past. We cherish and safeguard the treasures that made our species who we were—a young race filled with promise and hope for the bright tomorrow which has arrived; but at what cost?
I, Gerome DelCanto, am a Franciscan monk, and my role in life is to bring the Cosmic Christ to the universe.
An old world sacrifice means Daemiel can eat. But the eyes watch and the child squalls, awakening memories in Daemiel long forgotten. Cynthia McGean draws us into long forgotten traditions in this dark, fantastical tale. -SY
High on a cliff, a man and a woman stand beneath a lone tree, its center sliced with an ancient, charred wound. The clouds roar. A distant flash of light shoots across the sky.
In her arms, the woman cradles a small blob with red hair. “How will this put things right?” she asks the man.
“It will quiet the gods,” he says. “Just leave it!”
The bundle in the woman’s arms screeches. “Hush,” she whispers, frantically bouncing the little shape. “You’ll make them angry.”
Reviewed by Damien Smith
Some three years ago now I recall seeing an open submission that blew my cynical mind. The Jim Henson Company (yes, THAT one) was teaming up with Grosset & Dunlap with an open call for submissions to find an author for a new novel set in the Dark Crystal universe. Brief visions of puppet-inspired literary glory flashed through my mind before the reality of the hugely restrictive (read: perfectly reasonable) submission time frame and the prospect of competing against a myriad of writers with, well, talent for this sort of thing brought me back down to Earth. Fast forward to a few months ago and, having completely put it out of my mind, this lovely if brief volume crosses my path.
Philip felt Ellie’s grip tighten around his hand. Opposite them, almost lost behind the enormity of his comma-shaped desk, sat Arturo Maldonado, a small, balding man in an immaculately-pressed pastel grey suit.
‘I must admit,’ Maldonado said, ‘we here at the Directory are largely unimpressed when couples participate in unsanctioned conceptions. It speaks to us of a certain…irresponsibility.’
‘Doesn’t it mean something that we’ve come forward?’ Ellie asked.
‘That depends upon your motivations,’ Maldonado said.
‘Us conceiving was-was…an accident.’ Philip bowed his head. The whole office—with its white carpet, white walls, and glass furnishings—was pristine. ‘But we’ve taken—’ He gulped, and forced the tremor from his voice, ‘—we’ve taken responsibility. We didn’t go underground, didn’t try and have an unlicensed baby.’
Reviewed by Lee Murray
New Zealand author Richard Parry has been on my radar for a while now. A former finalist in New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards, he’s part of a friend’s critique group, someone who lives only a few blocks away, and, as it turns out, once worked with my brother. With those close yet nebulous connections you’d think our paths might have crossed at least once, but in fact we have never met other than via our novels. Recently, I read two of Richard’s titles: Night’s Favour and Night’s Fall (June, 2016).
The Russian ballet is in town performing Swan Lake. An understudy watches the Prima Ballerina from the audience with awe, and she is not alone. The performance floors the audience, in ways it is not supposed to. Beth Deitchman brings the house crashing down in this paranormal tale. SY
The opera house hummed with opening night excitement. Voices rose in animated conversation, punctuated by bursts of laughter. Beautifully dressed people stood near their seats, scanning the auditorium for their friends, their eagerness to see the great ballerina palpable. The men cut gallant figures in their tuxedos and crisp bowties; the women dripped with jewels, hair coifed to perfection.
Although my seat awaited me above, I lingered near the dress circle railing. From my vantage point, I observed with amusement the dance of interactions—a nod here, a smile there, the flourish of a fan, the flash of opera glasses. Below us the orchestra warmed up, its well-ordered cacophony of trills and glides cutting through the symphony of voices.
I turned my gaze to the heavy gold curtain where a spotlight played against the plush fabric. Backstage, pre-performance preparations would be underway—a last-minute costume check, a final stretch, a quick review of choreography. I almost regretted having the night off to watch the ballet from the theatre.