Welcome back for 2016’s last edition for SQ Mag. We’ve been busy bees the last couple of weeks: the Story Quest Contest has begun (don’t forget to submit); our new submissions are currently open; Star Quake, Best of 2015 has been finalised and submitters notified.
We’re excited to open for serialised fiction again, and we have also opened for general submissions. To ensure that we are getting a mix of wonderful authors previously published with us, and new talent, we’ve got two areas for submission.
While there is a new method in place, which I think will make the whole experience better, there will be some tweaking of the process as we go on—we will make sure we don’t need to take long hiatuses and also so we can get our responses back to authors sooner. It’s part of big ideas, crucial to preparing for bigger and better.
Nettie Lonesome follows her senses to a small town, to accidentally embroil herself in family politics and pettiness. Lila Bowen brings us into a world of fantastic intrigue, navigated as only a skin-walking vulture can. -SY
A story set in the world of The Shadow
A bird’s sinister shadow sweeps over a small town nestled between jagged mountains, rippling over neatly painted buildings and swept porches and a dusty thoroughfare. The bird has passed a dozen such goddamn towns, shiny as eggs in rough nests, but it hasn’t stopped a single time. Until now.
Something down there must’ve caught its eye.
Circling widely, the ungainly critter lands in a dirty yard by a clothesline. It’s not quite a vulture but close, ugly as sin with a bald head and a great mass of twisted tissue where one eye should be. It doubles over, quivers, and…becomes a girl just as rough and ugly as the bird. She goes by the name Nettie Lonesome, most of the time. Lanky and rib-bone thin, frizzy black hair thick with grime. She coughs into a hand, then quickly covers her chest, looking about shiftily to see if anyone noticed. Within moments, she’s stolen a faded shirt and pants off the line, slipping into them like a fish sliding back into the water. They’re fit for a child, and her bony ankles and wrists show, but at least she’s covered. At least she looks like a boy again.
Reviewed by Damien Smith
Disclaimer: I have known Alan personally for a number of years, but this does not mean I will be unreasonably harsh on his work. I did not receive anything other than an uncorrected proof copy of Crow Shine for this review.
Alan Baxter has been doing the rounds of the Australian Spec Fic scene for quite some time now, and regularly pops up in top-class short story publications. With the recent news that his Alex Caine trilogy is going global, it would be easy to forget about Alan’s widely-scattered and occasionally very hard to find shorter works. Crow Shine represents Alan’s first, very attractively-covered, short story collection and gathers together sixteen hand-picked tales from over a decade of works, along with three original pieces.
Sri, left stranded after an accident she believes her fault, lives a meagre existence, attached by need to the Haree she calls Chit by her need to breathe. Tyra Tanner leads us down a path of blame and retribution, alone on an alien world. -SY
Three years she’d waited for this.
Sri touched the tender sprout with the reverence of one witnessing a miracle. Under her fingernail, the small green gemstone glowed in the membranous bark. Unlike trees from Earth, the trees here on Jau grew from the seeds of gems, their luminous veins pulsing with uncontested signs of life.
Sri rose and followed behind Chit—always behind Chit. The remainder of the forest was nothing but burnt stumps: the trees inner gemstones sat exposed and dim in piles of hardened ash. She weaved carefully through the stumps, lest she accidentally step on a young shoot growing from the ashes of her mistakes.
Three years ago, she’d burned this place. Everyone she’d known had died.
The sea peeled back from the bay, sucked by a force stronger than tides. Laid bare beneath the sun, fish glittered and flopped, and deep furrows in the naked ocean floor traced the line of the currents. The horizon bulged. Ahli gaped, as cries went up around her.
Her father, Yune, dropped the net they were piling into their little round bowl-boat. He grabbed her shoulder and pointed inland.
The sight of his normally cheerful face twisted into a mask of fear gave her a speed she’d never possessed.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
Every October, I try to find a good spooky read that will keep me looking over my shoulder while I’m munching on too much Halloween candy. This time, I gathered up a list of recommended reads and randomly chose one: Slade House by David Mitchell. Though I found the premise to be intriguing, sadly it didn’t give me any goosebumps, nor did it keep me flipping the pages, anxious to read more.
A few minutes of rain. Downward, a heavy punch that won’t last long. It bends you by degrees. After a quarter of an hour where it seems the rain may have exhausted itself, conditions are suddenly, once again, infiltrated by horrible and the rain continues its composition. Your behavior, how you put together your motives, wishes it were out in the country, or you were inside, somewhere dry and lacking this forecast of tears.
Forced by a solution she couldn’t paint, Claire—rushing from her spinster-packed dollhouse—set to sea. Claire sudden, work (the firmament of the loom, her attachment to DUTY) waiting to consume, out of time under a mast with no swerve immune from risk, and no easy. Wind—happening—difficult, exhausting—andherumbrellaisgoneintomisfortune. Claire’s future (short on clarity) does not see the automobile, sudden, chasing work.
Dead skunks (and other wilder fare) glare on backcountryroads…town and country no one writes songs to what’s chopped down.
2nd umbrella (group): Read the rest of this entry
Reviewed by Lee Murray
Remember your first ghost story? You probably heard it late at night. You were in your pyjamas, maybe snuggled in a sleeping bag on the floor, the story told to you in a rasping eerie voice while torchlight glanced off the ceiling. For me, it was during a power cut, the ghostly story told by my dad against a backdrop of flickering candlelight. I don’t know how he managed it, but as Dad reached the story’s terrifying conclusion, the lights went on. It was miraculous, as if some supernatural being had been listening in and flipped the switch at just the right moment. It also flipped the switch for me on ghost stories. And a similar phenomenon affects the main character, Joe, in Sue Copsey’s middle grade novel The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek.
The man Denara had her eye on is missing, and she may have made a catastrophic mistake. An old legend tells of an aged helper of the mountain, so Denara decides she has no choice but to fix it. Tom Howard weaves a seaside community, beaten down by time, unawares of looms behind them. -SY
The unexpected silence woke her. For the first time in Denara’s life, no raindrops fell on the roof tiles over her head. She left her bed, pulling her homespun robe around her, and made her way to the kitchen. Her mother, tall and thin, stared out the window at a morning sky lightened much too early.
“The rain has stopped,” said Denara.
“Don’t worry,” said her mother, returning to washing the breakfast dishes. “I saw blue skies for two hours when I was your age. It’ll start raining again in a few minutes.”
Denara scooped chunks of fish out of a bubbling stewpot into her bowl, appreciative of the stove’s warmth. “Would you like some breakfast, Mom?”
“Why did the rain stop?” Denara asked, pushing the bits of fish around in her bowl and hoping her mother had a logical reason for the rain stopping.
“I don’t know,” replied her mother. “It might have something to do with the low tide last night. Your father said he’d never seen the ocean that far out.”