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16 February 2016

Old age is a disease cured by death.
Youth is a disease cured by old age.
Neither youth nor age appreciate the cure.

And january is often a time when a lot of anthologies are published, so that work you sold to them months ago finally sees the light of day. This January was no exception with SISTERS appearing in Theme anthology (Whortleberry Press) STRANGE CHANGES, A P.R.I.M. JOURNEY in THE WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR Ed. Robert N. Stephenson. And, rather faster, GRAVE MATTERS appearing in DEVOLUTION Z magazine.

The weather here began overheating at the start of the year. Usually we don’t get it so hot until February, but most of January was 30 degrees plus and I loathe it. Of course, it’s my own fault, I should buy an air conditioner. Instead I swelter. Why? Well, I look at the cost of an air conditioner, work out how many new books I could buy for that amount and – I buy books. And unless I get an unexpected and very good deal on a cheap used air conditioner, I suspect I never will own one. There’s an upside to this however. I don’t notice the heat when I’m writing. So far this summer I’ve written a LOT, and I expect to write a lot more. Swings and roundabouts.

7 February 2016

E-book, 12 stories.
Wow, that’s all I can say. Wow. I’m a sentimentalist for media. I cry in sad movies and reading sad books and stories. And the first one of these got me right where I live. (I have Grown Old In Service To My Country by Cary G. Osborne.) For two reasons. One was that a couple of years ago I volunteered to go to Mars. Yes, a five year round trip, but on my own and I would have gone if selected too. But the project folded. Reading this story I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad about that. But the story itself has real power, and the ending rang like a bell. Doc and the Crash Landing by J. A. Campbell is a great tale, aliens looking for auto parts, and a guy and his dog. A dog that hunts vampires and werewolves and chats to squirrels, with a horde of squirrels that, after consultation, save the day. Yes! David Lee Summers’ Arachne’s Stepchildren was a carry-me-along story, the end is open but that way is right this time. There are so many possibilities inherent in the plot that to have shut the story down using only one wouldn’t have worked. And I can’t help wondering, what could he do with this as a book?
Then there is Kanti’s BlacK Box by Nicole Givens Kurtz, a story that reminds readers that under an alien skin there may still beat a heart-analogue that has similar emotions to ours.., and Red Ashes by Sam Knight had a surprising finale to an absorbing story. Altogether this was a solid, well’chosen anthology. While I liked the stories I have mentioned better than others, there was no story I disliked. And there aren’t many anthologies about which I can say that. It’s excellent that this is the second of the editor’s anthologies I or a reader friend could say this about and I look forward to more. Recommended.

3 February 2016

softcover, anthology, 22 short stories on title theme.
Reviewed by Steve Johnson.
Another nice offering from Whortleberry Press. Some great stories in this one with one of my favourites only three in. Blue Grass Dreams Aren’t For Free by Gerri Leen is a very good tale of human/horse reversal, although not perhaps as you’d expect. Lyn McConchie’s Sisters too wasn’t what I’d expected, but I really liked it, and The Food Chain by Edward Ahern sent shivers down my spine. I also really enjoyed Tom Howard’s The Last Man, (a creepy little piece) Survival of the Fittest by Jack Hillman, (also creepy) and The Man Who Was Only History by J.J. Steinfeld which acts rather like a punch in the guts. (I don’t like that version of the future, but boy is it powerful.)
I found that the two stories I didn’t enjoy as much were both set very solidly in American backgrounds, (so much so that I doubt someone not that conversant with such backgrounds may, as I did, not quite understand or appreciate them. This is not the author’s fault, it’s merely a fact. Nor is it a mistake for an editor to use the works, since she is American and the anhtology would primarily be sold there. But as someone on the other side of the world, I didn’t get a lot of the nuances and was aware of it. That said, with 22 stories, and only two that didn’t do it for me, that’s an excellent result. Chuck’s tag lines put a nice cap on the anthology too. How to sum up a story in a phrase – and he’s good at it. Recommended.

It’s the time of the year when my consumer/recycling articles start appearing in our Saturday Supplement for local paper Dannevirke News. Less going on, available space needing to be filled, so THINGS TO DO WITH LEMON BALM appeared Jan.16th, COMMON BUT DEADLY HOUSE PLANTS appeared Jan 23rd. And WHAT’S NOT GOOD FOR YOUR PET (Plants) appeared on Jan.30th.
One day when I have sufficient of these written I’ll take the time to edit, sort, rearrange, and do them as a small non-fiction book for consumers. Until them it’s fun doing them anyhow.

The hens seem to have gone into overdrive since the start of the year. Last evening I went out to collect eggs and came back with 16, that’s for the past two days. I eat maybe 2-6 a week, and I’m getting around 4 dozen, so, yes. I’ve been gifting friends with eggs. They’re happy about that, so am I. But I know that sooner or later the hens will all moult simultaneously, and there’ll be no eggs for some time. Life is very poorly adjusted.

When I was 20 ‘security’ meant very little to me
When I was 40, it meant walking home after dark with a friend.
When I was sixty it meant living next door to a pitbull that loves me, and would arrive in one flying leap if I screamed.
If I make it to 80, I suspect it will mean very little again if I’m still living far out in the country. Or far too much if I’ve moved into town. Conclusion, urban living makes you nervous.