Reviewed by Damien Smith
For anyone carefully reading the heading up there it will come as no surprise that this is the second in a series of planned annual humorous speculative fiction anthologies. I would not normally review a subsequent anthology in a series; however, there is such a dearth of similar offerings around that I had to put it through its paces.
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
The EMP museum, Seattle
The EMP Museum’s strange architecture, located in the Seattle Centre parkland
When you walk around the huge chromatic and irregular surfaces of the EMP museum, you could be forgiven for thinking it some sort of blob of abstract sculpture to decorate the Seattle Centre parkland, in the centre of downtown Seattle. Designed by Frank Gehry, it has had its share of detractors and admirers, seeing in it the reflection of smashed guitars. Me, I just saw the shiny reflections and was excited by the prospect of the treasure trove inside.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
When I began reading the second book of my friend Ren Garcia’s Elder League series, I expected a good story with all the sci-fi/steampunk fun of the first one, but I didn’t expect the depth of feeling this book contained. If I hadn’t already been hooked by the first book, I would definitely have been hooked with this one.
Part 2 and the extent of Kathy’s hoarding finally comes to Stuart’s attention. Feeling cornered, Kathy starts to push back against her husband’s controlling nature and act in a disturbing way. What spell is the samovar weaving upon her? SY
Stuart caught her staring at her eBay sales when he arrived home early. Before she could shut down the window, he saw the sale notification on the art deco pin she had put up for sale.
When magic is a consumable, how much value does the life that controls the magic hold? When the talent matcher receives a promising new child to assess, she hasn’t even assessed him before the offer comes. Will the price be worth paying if she cannot live with what that means for the boy’s existence? SY
My son tells me to stop dwelling on it. Obsessing, is his word. He scowls when he says it, but he means well. Deep down, he is a kind-hearted boy. I don’t want him to worry about me, so I try to remember to smile when he visits.
Havvie, who’s kept the stall next to mine in Underpass Market for nearly twenty years, says much the same. “It’s not your fault. If anyone’s to blame, it’s that kiddie’s father. Selfish bastard.”
“He thought he was doing the right thing.”
Gary Inglewood has been offered an exciting contract working in rural Queensland, in a small town called Isisford. His family aren’t particularly happy to be uprooted, but at least the locals seem pleased to see them. Nothing much happens in this sleepy little town; except for those events on the religious calendar, of course… SY
Isisford was just what the Inglewood family had expected—a hick-infested hell-hole in the middle of nowhere. Gary had tried to remain optimistic, thinking of it as a close-knit country town a stone’s throw from Longreach—but the stunned look on his face bore witness to his disappointment.
The over-packed station wagon rolled warily along the main street. The Inglewoods had tried to bring all of their earthly possessions with them, but even a spacious car like theirs had its limits.
They passed an art gallery, and its recycled rubbish sculptures—with beer caps for eyes—seemed to watch the family from behind a dirty display window.
When the body is the last frontier for advertising, what will advertisers do to ensure that their return is worth the investment?
I didn’t think our marriage would last after Jake got those ridiculous tattoos. They glowed all night, their messages flickering on the ceiling of our studio apartment: miracle hair growth, free porn, or earn money from home. I’d lay there, my eyes tired from the light. Even when covered with a sheet, I could see them. After all, they were designed to be bright enough to shine through clothing. As the hours of the night passed, the small batteries embedded in his skin lost their power, and the tiny lights dimmed. But by then, it was too late. I hadn’t slept.
“You could wrap your arms in something before you go to bed. Maybe just put on a really thick sweater,” I said, the two of us sitting on the couch, watching TV.
“I’m not going to do that, babe,” he said. “You know I hate anything on my body when I sleep.”
When it comes to the question of what makes us individuals and where we can find that special spark, Josh thinks he has the answer. Dan Rabarts was third placed in the 2013 IFWG Publishing Australia Story Quest competition, winning the judges over with his clear style and dark storytelling. SY
Joshua knew he was guilty. He just didn’t know why.
There had been a time, before the accident, when it had all fitted together well enough. A time when things had made sense. There had been echoes of laughter and the glow that reminded him of late summer, good times remembered but fading. Sitting on the riverbank, sharing a durry, swigging from a glass flask, squeezing his eyes against the burn of cheap raw liquor—the best they could afford—and contemplating everything from the meaning of sunrise to whether or not there really was a Great Hereafter. They had reached an agreement, Joshua and those whom he had once called friends, that what lay beyond was whatever you believed it would be. He had, in the folly of his youth (not so long ago), believed that this husk of blood and bone and brain had the power to summon an afterlife of his choosing, simply by willing it so. He wished that he still held to such frivolous dreams. But he had seen what happens when a man is rent from jaw to spleen. There is blood, and bone, and the reek of copper and shit. He had seen the grey and brown that lurks within the skull, that frail temple that hides man’s concept of soul and lets him believe that after death there is anything more than dust or ash or the long devouring of worms.
I rolled up the piece of paper tightly, until it was no larger in diameter than a fast-food milkshake straw. My favourite doll, Miss Louise, was squeezed under my arm. She couldn’t breathe, but even though she didn’t complain, I still tried to be quick about it anyway. As soon as I dropped the paper into the glass bottle, it immediately uncurled and filled the empty space inside.
Most of what I had written had been obscured by the curvature of the glass, but as I turned the bottle this way and that, I could make out some of the words. Hit. Broken. Scared. Need help. I wrote that bad things would happen if they didn’t act soon, and left my name and address at the bottom.
Ray is a glorified smuggler, who finds himself in an untenable situation that can only be solved with some outside intervention. Full of tricks and betrayal to make the waters murky, Ray’s plan requires all his wits and cunning to get out of the game. SY
The last drops of morning rain skittered past me, chased by sun shining brutal and hot against a backdrop of dark clouds. Gulls crowded the Walmart parking lot where I stopped to make the call, their white and grey feathers highlighting a magnificent post-storm rainbow. The colorful illusion faded as I watched, leaving only birds fighting for crumbs and screaming. Yanking at my thinning hair, I tried to think of options that didn’t end with me dead.
Nope, nothing. Except to turn my back on everything I knew, everything I was, and make a play for a real life. One with Keri.