Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
This year I had the pleasure of attending several events as both a patron and volunteer at The Vancouver Writers Fest, the annual celebration of all things literary on Granville Island, in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It is one of the city’s highlights for the fall and the largest literary festival for British Columbia.
A simple snowshoeing trip leads Jack and his daughter Keelin to a payload of money. How has it lain so long undisturbed in the wilderness? Best leave mysterious money caches. Unfortunately, human greed is such a grasping need. SY
The woods were quiet as Jack and his ten-year-old daughter trudged down the trail. A blanket of fresh snow draped over the forest, cleaving to bare branches and evergreens. Lost in contemplation of the woodland, their peaceful sojourn seemingly left behind adversity from the outside world.
While unloading their snowshoes from his aging Volvo wagon, little Keelin had hesitated about heading off into the shaded woods. Jack encouraged her to forge ahead. And as they busied themselves fastening the snowshoes to their boots, she appeared content about the venture.
Jack could only hear the sound of their snowshoes crimping the trail and an occasional swishing of Keelin’s snow pants as they plodded forward. Keelin quietly plugged along beside him, up and down steep hills, and around bends flanked by bubbling brooks and old stone walls.
Reviewed by Damien Smith
I’m going to be old and grey by the time I make a dent in my ever-growing “To Read” pile, but occasionally I seek some distraction from my line up because I feel like reading something specific. At the start of the year I had a sudden yearning for some decent sword and sorcery, which had been missing from my line up since I finished rereading The Complete Conan (highly recommended, by the way, but not what this review is about). A friend mentioned a book Throne of the Crescent Something by someone I’d never heard of as a decent yarn, so I thanked them and then promptly forgot the name of both author and book.
It is a hard task to live up to all that is asked of us, our names and our parents’ expectations. Casimir is worn down with world-weariness because of it. He’s hearing a voice, calling on him to be more. As the flagman signals, will Casimir continue to obey? SY
Casimir Pulaski Williams felt no particular relief as his dusty compact shuddered its way along the four-lane. Another day was finished. It had been no worse than most. Meaning only that he had felt useless, trapped and bored.
More of the same.
Another thread in the small gray fabric of his life.
Once, Casimir told himself, he had been proud.
Proud of his mother. Of her steady, uncomplaining nature. Of her perseverance. And of her determination to make their lives secure. Even, at some point, proud of the name she’d given him.
Too much carbon in the atmosphere and humans, in all their arrogance, thought they could fix it. Their solution now threatens all life on earth. A human look at impending apocalypse and the frailty of humanity. SY
Even the custom optics didn’t show Clarisse the subtle spectral difference between the Crust and the uncoated surfaces along the fynbos. She thought she could detect a slight glistening in the leaves of distant myrtle trees, or a liquid shimmer in the low yellowbush and bredasdorp along the border of the Olifants River, but there’d be no way to tell until it was too late.
“It’s ungodly quiet.” Peter Marsh squinted into the distance, shielding his eyes with a slender brown hand. Clarisse had always thought him a bit effeminate, but she’d seen him with at least seven women in the last few days, whooping it up in town as the world slowly ended.
She wouldn’t have pictured Peter as one of the ones who’d celebrate the catastrophe. With his pinched features, dark brooding complexion, and fussy habits, she’d always imagined him going out with a whimper, not a bang. He seemed more the bookish type, not a pre-apocalyptic Don Juan.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
How do you beat the devil and live to tell about it?
Craig Russell explores this mythical question in Black Bottle Man. Though targeted to the teen/YA audience, this metaphorically rich fable is a pleasure for any word-a-holic to read.
A foreigner in the Isles, returning. They leave her to herself, in the place where there was plague, except the young poet. She is happy in her solitude but he seeks her out. There is a value to politeness and leaving well enough alone. SY
She came back to the Isles in the spring mist. She was left on a pebble beach by a ship from the south, which sailed off without even stopping to resupply. A nearby fishing village took her in for a week, after which she went quietly away and the next anyone heard was that she had made a home in what remained of a hamlet abandoned a hundred years ago or more. And there had been plague there, so no one cared to visit, although she did come back to barter southern coins for food.
Eventually people stopped caring. Foreigners were all mad anyway. Who knew why any of them did anything?
The stream was the same, clear water spilling foam-flecked between brown stepping stones. There were foxgloves still, and green hollows below undercut banks, and here and there the bronze of dead leaves shed by the beech trees coming into their spring growth. Mist crept like a white ghost over the grass.
Soldiers are drawn from the incarcerated to fight against the fast and bloodthirsty Trayg that threaten to overwhelm their world. When they offer them advantage in the form of upgrades, the prisoners would be fools to reject any help. In the war against invasion, isn’t any advantage worth testing? SY
Darrin shifted in his bunk, struggled against coarse blankets. Sleep teased the corners of his eyes. Thick drowsiness crept under his skin.
She pooled, bright white and red, a head splitting star in congealed blackness.
Slick moonlight beaded in her hair, blood drops bright on her blouse. Her last, surprised breath as she crumpled in his arms.
One night six years ago. A night he used to not care about. It wasn’t even the worst he’d done.
He swung his feet onto cold floor, planted his sweaty face in his hands.
The end has come. All Hack’s machinations hang on this moment. All Jeannie Tuttle can think about is her mother, dying in the sterile hospital bed. How will it all end? SY
IX. March, 1990
Hack hangs over the hospital bed, spectating, unseen. The subject’s mother lies motionless, her bleak aura reflecting her health. The subject herself kneels before the woman, that jade energy pulsing brilliantly. Her cries upset the nether, like cartoon lightning bolts rising from a wound.
Waiting patiently in his secret space, Hack studies her burning aura, the love pulsing there, ripe as a honeydew: she is ready for harvest. All that lies between him and the energy is a psychic barrier: Free Will, a wall impenetrable by even the mightiest magician. But that will soon be no more, and of her own volition.
I always love the beginning of the month that we release SQ Mag. It’s full of enthusiasm and excitement. Always keen to find out which stories you loved and what you thought.
It’s been a busy month for SQ Mag. We’ve released our 2012 anthology, Star Quake 1, learning a lot in the process. Thank you to all our selected authors for your patience—we know it’s hard when the prospect of your name in print looms. Thank you Jeffery Doherty, for you work on making our cover “just right” and for the elegant and spooky graphic that you gave us originally.
Please support the e-zine by grabbing this great anthology as a gift, or for your own bookshelf. We can keep running only with your patronage and donations.