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16 February 2014

large dimension trade paperback. 114 pages, contains stories, poems, column, a comic strip and an article.

Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

This magazine goes from strength to strength. I didn’t find a single story that I didn’t think to be good quality, I liked some more than others, but there were none that I disliked. Most of the poems too – and I’m not much for poetry – I enjoyed. None of that ‘let’s be obscure and pretentious,’ just good stories told in rhyme or blank verse. And a number of the stories were, IMHO, suitable as award entrants. My friend tells me that there are awards in small press publishing and I think that several of the stories in this issue should be entered. So, what did I like that much? Let’s start with Robert Redwine’s Missing Mittens. A new and cleverly amusing way to provide a dragon with treasure, and rounded off with an ending too that made me smile. Lyn McConchie’s Realities, unlike many of Lyn’s stories which tend to the optimistic/happy ending, this one was a look at reality and how – and why – many people may prefer their dreams. A sometimes harsh tale, but very well told and sadly believable set in a world where the poor have no back-up benefits. Nativity by Francis Silversmith, was a brief but engaging little gem, while Survival of the Wolf by M.E.Garber was Lyn’s counterpart, harsh but with an understandable and believable theme.

Where’d That Come From? by David B. Riley was quite simply an excellent piece of SF, I may have ended up confused as to what exactly was going on with time and other dimensions, but I liked it and my confusion may have been the point, the main character worked by intuition without quite knowing how or why herself and it’s reasonable that this transferred. The point is that I finished the story with a sense of pleased satisfaction. The Dear Cthulhu column by Patrick Thomas made me laugh, Other stories I really liked were Cunjerred by Sarah M. Lewis, Gentle Push by John C. Conway, and Clean Ricky by Steve Mitchell. I particularly enjoyed the poems The Expanding Universe by John Hayes, his personalizing of elements was delightful, and Granpa’s 682 by Karin L. Frank, is all too true, (or will be, has been, – whoops, caught in a mobius loop there for a moment.) The back and front cover art by Laura Givens was gorgeous, it puts a finishing polish on the magazine, while several of the inside illos – such as those by Tom Kelly, Laura Givens again, and Kathy Ferrell, caught my eye as being not only very good, but also art that was appropriate to the story. In short, an superior issue. I found it intriguing too that I have seen a number of the names in this magazine appearing in other small press magazines and anthologies. They produce uniformly good work and time and time again I see work that is inferior in many major anthologies and magazines. Perhaps it’s my taste  in the SF/F field that makes me think this, but I know other readers that agree. Anyway, keep up the good work.

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