Tag Archives: BFS Journal

BFS Journal – Spring 2012

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

It is a paperback book I received yesterday as part of my membership subscription to the BFS.

British Fantasy Society Journal – Spring 2012

Published by the BFS

Editors: Lou Morgan, Guy Adams, Ian Hunter

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my other real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

As is common with all my real-time reviews, I shall only be reviewing the fiction and poetry. There is much else in this book I anticipate enjoying.  My previous real-time review of a BFS publication: BFS Journal (Winter 2010).

The authors as they appear in the Journal: Jonathan Oliver, Zoe Elizabeth Barrett, Kelda Crich, Neil Fulwood, Rhys Hughes, David Glen Larson, Grant Quimper, Marie O’Regan, John DesPlaines, Fiona Moore, Allen Ashley, Garry Kilworth.

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don’t you like the bird man? – Jonathan Oliver

“At the convention the two of them had picked up several awards for A Murder of Crows and now they were at Midtown Comics, drinking complimentary booze and meeting the fans.”

A story worthy of  the legendary long-running 1990s magazine: ‘A Nasty Piece of Work’ – in plain prose an  exercise in extrapolating from the creativity of seamlessly blending art and story: that, then, here, blends further into real life: a story of a monstrous bird man, and the writer’s wife’s regression to abuse in her childhood. Honestly nasty, but leaving a thoughtful aftertaste regarding life’s hidden motives and waking undercurrents  deriving from sometimes meaningless, sometimes meaningful nightmares. [I  became muddled about section breaks when coupled with page breaks on at least two occasions and I also spotted a loose comma. Having already riffled through the rest of the book, I noticed that the ‘don’t you like the birdman’ title is shown on the second page of the Rhys Hughes story.] (29 Apr 12 – 9.20 am bst)

morningmares (poem) – Zoë Elizabeth Barrett

in darkness, deep as death,”

Graceful horror lines that seem the perfect coda to the previous story: inasmuch as haunting by day blends with hunting by night: those waking dreams from nightmares being factored into real life…and vice versa. (29 Apr 12 – 9.35 am bst)

shadow whisperer at black hole hotel (poem) – Kelda Crich

“Don’t look into ink-space face.”

A woman born from the actual paper text’s dark enjambement: from TS Eliot, Bob Dylan, with a touch of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel?  And, thankfully, more I can’t quite pin down. Sinewy – and good. Wouldn’t work psychologically as well in ebook format, I feel.  [‘Add you life’ –> ‘Add your life’?] (29 Apr 12 – 12.25 pm bst)

the call of chavthulu – Neil Fulwood

Sorry, I’ve tried to read this but – probably due to my own shortcomings – I cannot read pages and pages of a story in such mock-dialect. I just can’t do it. It may be brilliant – should one be able to get past that hurdle. (29 Apr 12 – 12.55 pm)

jenny khan – Rhys Hughes

“‘When I go to Parliament,’ said Jenny, ‘I’ll abolish clouds. And I’ll live on cakes and peanuts! And when I’m full, I’ll jump up and down until I’m sick and start eating again!‘”

The older I get, the odder. But never as creatively and constructively and dyslogically odd as Rhys Hughes or, at least, Rhys Hughes’ work.  This is genuinely one of his greater pieces (and quite different from, if the same as, most of the other works I’ve read of his); good job! It takes up about 30 pages of this Journal. Worth every page.  It starts off with Jenny as a wonderful new take on Jane Turpin (by Evadne Price), a young girl version of Richmal Crompton’s ‘Just William’, but better.  And it evolves into a major satiric, Lewis-Carrollian ironic-fantasy: absurdist, hootingly funny, with at least half serious undercurrents about Parliament and voting, and power, and monarchy, and the Middle Class, and Machiavelli: with so many wonderful new Rhys-Hughesian conceits: eg: Alky / Alchemist, Jingo /Bingo, buying years for the amount of their numerical ‘name’: with all manner of larger-than-life characters and references like the one to the Guy who tried to blow up Parliament: and Whovian statue-blinks, Whovian mayhem in Westminster, slime things underground etc. Even a version of Facebook for Dictators. And much much more. The prose is plain and short-paragraphed (not usually to my taste), but the ideas scintillate. And it’s thought-provoking, too, if you have any thoughts to be provoked.  It even has childish conceits, to go with the more clever ones, like not finding any kangaroos in a kangaroo court. And the ending is not bathetic. It’s almost touching.  (29 Apr 12 – 3.05 pm bst)

As for the book’s gestalt, the ‘Jenny Khan’ absurdist syndrome is perhaps, inadvertently, a subtle symbol of the woman about to emerge from the Crich poem and feistily resisting any girl’s ‘abuse’ backstory touched upon by the Oliver story. The politically correct incorrectness of Hughes’ quantatative teasing. (29 Apr 12 -3.25 pm bst)

doorways (poem) – David Glen Larson

“But he being me didn’t know.”

What I call a plainstyle poem, yet skilfully carrying a metaphysical punch – derived from the ‘Dark Tower’ doorways between universes – with an interesting twist.

Further book credits: Design: Cavan Scott – Cover Illustration: Chris Roberts  (30 Apr 12 – 8.20 am bst)

mother’s boy – Grant Quimper

His hand fell onto the wooden grip of a carving knife and he paused for moment to enjoy the soft feel of the handle on his fingers.”

A striking vignette, starting, at relative length, with almost an ‘anti-novel’ precision of descriptive tactility in the making of a cup of tea and other kitchen activities: for example the quote above, where the softness of the fingers are deftly transposed psychologically to the hard handle. He makes the tea, thus, while listening to the screams of his mother before going off to help her. And ending with a “Nasty Piece of Work” slaughter in a Swiftian ‘Modest Proposal’ mode, the carving knife left for the source of the brood…  Effectively sick.

[I wonder whether it is worth my while continuing to seek a gestalt in this book’s fiction / poetry, as is my wont heretofore in real-time reviewing. I think this is the first time where I’m processing works scattered about a book rather than grouped together. In my similar regular real-time reviews, i.e. of Black Static, Interzone, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction, BFS Journal: Winter 2010 etc, the fiction is grouped together whereby the gestalt  can seep from one to the other, unlike here. That’s not a criticism, of course, but an observation. Or it may be simply an excuse from me for struggling here to find the usual, almost ‘occult’, gestalt that has always emerged with sweet synchronicity when processing discrete items of fiction that had been deliberately grouped together edge to edge! 😉] (30 Apr 12 – 3.15 pm bst)

listen – Marie O’Regan

‘Then came the wind,’ he said, and the children instinctively moved closer together as the room seemed to fill with whispers borne on the breeze,”

[On reflection, maybe the book’s fiction gestalt was destroyed by my omission of an earlier story –] … yet here I seem to be back on some sort of serendipitous course, with Storyteller O’Regan’s Storyteller starting to tell his story about the wind [I am currently reading Stephen King’s new book ‘The Wind through the Keyhole’ and the latest homework task for our local writers’ group has to have the title “The Wind Whispers” –] and here the children gather around O’Regan’s Storyteller, abandoned in all good faith to this ‘enjoyment’ by their parents in the library. The children’s good faith, too, to listen – to suspend disbelief. One boy in particular grows more and more discomforted by the tenor of the story as if he is the only one present to spot the evil Pied Piper disguised as the Storyteller. A sudden change of point-of-view to the Storyteller then discomforted me – until I realised this was a skilful way to convey the fact that Story now faced Story in some battle: in a world that needs evil so as to create the good by contrast with that evil. The prose is satisfyingly dense, longish-paragraphed: yet it slides easily through the ‘assumed’ reading-ears carrying the transcendent story deeper and deeper into you – with toing and froing – and later the subtle influence of other horror figures but upon whose side they fight is uncertain.  Very effective story indeed reaching an ending that is at first inscrutable – but, on reflection, I think I know what it tells about a child’s life, the future dangers any child faces and the people whom to suspect or whom to depend upon. Very powerful and poignant climax, by innuendo: a final teasing hug for the reader before you depart the layers of storytelling. Listen and thou shalt hear. (30 Apr 12 – 8.20 pm bst)

the  wheel of whumpus (poem) – John DesPlaines

“For inscribed there…are the names of every bad boy and girl”

I think this is a gem of a new old-fashioned nursery-rhyme with a “morality-compass” message threading the near-nonsense verse. It means more than it says and resonates with the girls and boys in the audience of the previous story. Back on track-o with a perpetuo mot-o. (1 May 12 – 7.55 am bst)

the kindly race – Fiona Moore

‘Isn’t that the guy who directed Death in Venice last May?’ she asked.”

An engaging, poignant, well-written, humorous, slightly SF RomCom: with a well-characterised friendship – stretching over many of the years of our recent past – of a lesbian woman and a gay guy who are involved with artistic projects (collective drama etc) many of which are all Greek to me. Deals with exploitation of self and others: dealing with ends and means: immortality and Ishiguro-type clones, sexual politics, business ethics. Loved it. Like ‘the wheel of whumpus’, a morality-compass.  Like the audience and storyteller in ‘listen’, the gullibility of “longevity, not youthening“: and a superb ending that reminded me of a side-show climax of a Freaks film: factored into by an earlier telling reference (hidden in the text) to the poem ‘Tithonus’ by Tennyson that I’ve just re-read. I’m off to get my Greek haircut now. (1 May 12 – 9.30 am bst)

faerie mails – Allen Ashley

“I have read you over the ether and I know we can connect.”

A wittily dotty series of phishing spam emails that remind me of Ramsey Campbell’s instigated real-time thread ‘Amazing Rubbish’ here and some of the devices in his book ‘The Grin of the Dark’. Also resonates with the phishing promise of immortality and its implicit traps from the previous story.  Just fill in the dots. Rumpelstiltskin had a thing about Greek haircuts, too, I guess. All upon the weirdmonger ‘wheel of whumpus’ that is the internet. (1 May 12 – 10.00 am bst)

the fabulous beast – Garry Kilworth

It seemed as if the edges were melding together, […] …texts on the hides. I studied the edges of the scrolls and found their rippling hems locked together like pieces of a jigsaw.”

OMG, I think this is my Holy Grail of a gestalt in all my years of real-time reviewing. Why did I mention ‘edges’ of stories through which they seep together earlier in this review? Here this concept reaches something I did not expect when I said that: something so uncanny for me, I think there is a tadness of ‘occult’ about this process, after all! Taken on its own, this Kilworth story is a genuinely original mad scientist story, touching on gaia undercurnents worthy of Algernon Blackwood (cf The Centaur) and the ‘workshop of filthy creation’ in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. On top of that discreteness as a compelling story in or out of this book’s context, ‘fabulous beast’ echoes the immortality theme of the Moore (even explicitly mentioning a ‘freak circus’ in the Kilworth), the ‘birth’  of those autonomous creatures in the O’Regan, and the destruction of the ‘brood‘ in the Quimper: and the emergence of the bird man in the Oliver, ‘the wheel of whompus’ now spinning so hard it brings into explicit being, here in the Kilworth, the very Parthenogenesis theme with which I was obsessed when I started the ‘parthenogenetic fiction’ (and ‘late-labelling’) with ‘Nemonymous’ (cf: for example, ‘Sexy Beast’ by Tony Mileman in issue 4 (2004)).  And the “Zoo” mentioned here echoes Cern Zoo….

This is a brilliant mixed bag of fictions and poems. Tantalisingly unified as well as a variety  of styles and subjects. Whether editorially intentional or not to create this effect, I am awestruck. And apologies again to Neil Fulwood. Who knows what his story may have factored into the edgy melting-pot. (1 May 12 – 11.00 am)

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BFS Journal (Winter 2010) – My Real-Time Review

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.

And it is of  a hardback book entitled the BFS Journal (Winter 2010) published by the British Fantasy Society. I shall only be real-time reviewing, in the order they are printed, the book’s stories and poems (although there are also contained within the book many reviews, articles, interviews etc).  

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

The stories and poems are in two sections: NEW HORIZONS Issue 6 (edited by Andrew Hook): here stories written by Adrian Faulkner, Erik T Johnson, Lori Barrett, Ian Sales, Joel Lane, Marc-Anthony Taylor, Visha N Sukdeo, John Tait, Travis Heerman, Robin Tompkins plus DARK HORIZONS Issue 57 (Editor: Sam Stone; Poetry Editor: Ian Hunter): here stories and poems written by Charles Christian, Robert Mammone, Len Saculla, Ed Shacklee, Carl Barker, Gary Kuyper, Sarah Dalton, Thomas Williams, Nadia Mook, ‘Mighty’ Joe Young.

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Jetsam by Adrian Faulkner
“There was no time for any final words.”
An effectively written and poignant variation on the theme of dying as paralleled by a visit of a family to the seaside.  Its skill is such that it positively affected me today as my wife and I are currently involved with periodically visiting an elderly relative in her last days or weeks….  Thanks. (21 Jan 11)

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Water Buried by Erik T Johnson

“From those windows he could catch the first raindrop of a storm in a spoon, and snowflakes with almost anything.”

A perfect story, in my eyes. Continuing tellingly the variation on death theme of ‘Jetsam‘, here we have the flotsam from an initial intense claustrophobic vision radiating outwards to woods and clock-tower … a vision that one needs to piece together – and the prose begs out for several readings – each time harvesting more upon its tides of attic smells and the autonomous feedback of the text’s own props and a genuine sense of nothingness as somethingness (and vice versa).   “boxes of not sure what that is” – “bottles of traces of nothing” – “sandalwood scent of not-the-attic.” Poignant and haunting. A privilege to read. (21 Jan 11 – another two hours later)

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The Smell of Milk in the Morning by Lori Barrett

“The smell once again reminded her of the strange dream.”

I sense her name is an author to watch.  I really do. This is very creepy. Very feminine horror, if that’s not a sexist thing to say. Picking up on the redolent smells and scents of the previous story, a wife who moves with her husband’s job, meticulously met by a ghost-real thing in the bath, is accosted by a story-ending here that is both shocking and surprising. I hope that is not a spoiler in itself to reveal that the ending is shocking and surprising. Or that ordinary things like supermarkets disguise the next set of initial letters we need to spin out time.

“‘I don’t think they use the the,’ she said.” (21 Jan 11 – another 3 hours later)

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Barker by Ian Sales

“He’s good at not thinking,”

A change in gear – a speculative SF story taking place in, I guess, the new horizons of 1960s USA. Another variation on the dying process. A boxer is chosen to be launched into space as part of the race to beat the Russians for cosmic power….  A claustrophobic vision, this time in a punch-drunk comic-strip rocket. Real history and real names in retrocausality. To my hindsight surprise, I enjoyed it thoroughly as a lighter part of these movements in a dark symphony.

“Time’s been elastic…” (21 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)

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Incry by Joel Lane

“But echoes of the toilet box death kept recurring for me.”

In only 4 pages, this genuine Lane-like gem helps me piece together the book’s gestalt (in a similar way as I earlier pieced together ‘Water Buried’).  The dark “atonal” symphony with pent-up screams released as a chorus. Boxes (even an earlier character called Box and, elsewhere, even a Boxer!). Attic or celllar or rocket or within-own-body claustrophobia. Things being “trapped“, waiting for release. So perfect genius to say ‘incry’ not ‘outcry’… We don’t want this book to create an outcry, so much as a thoughtful Horror vision that really stings us into some sort of consciousness of the trapped self, perhaps? A sadness that prepares us for happy release? Or any other expression one can think of to describe these elements in one’s own personality.  However, this story may only be a way-station for a different gestalt to emerge when I read on in this book. I do not know as yet. (22 Jan 11)

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Boxed In by Marc-Anthony Taylor

“It was another boy about the same age as me, I felt him settle into the back of my head.”

In this well-written, -characterised, -conceived and substantial SFtopia, we have a pimping trade in empathy-provision (my expression, not the story’s). A provision by bodily-occupation or mind-sharing, plus all the subtle synergies between.  Empathy by ‘boxing’ that also, serendipitously, synergises with the previous ‘incry’ boxing described above.  Giving a thrill for OCD dwellers as a rollercoaster in a non-OCD world. And it’s far more than that. Bravo! for this story. And Bravo! for the editorial gestalting so far (whether intentional or not) in the NEW HORIZONS section of this book.

[As an aside, and as some of you may know, I keep seeking a gestalt within all my real-time reviews. And HERE is a story I wrote many years ago entitled Gestalt – one that I hope is relevant in this context of Marc’s wonderful story. It was once published in a small press mag (perhaps with a different title) in the 90s, but I’ve lost trace of it. Anyone help?] (22 Jan 11 – seven hours later)

[My use of the expression above, SFtopia, about Marc’ s story seems to be a neologistic one. It seems to cover what I understand this story to be. …. Today, I think of the ghost-real visitor in Lori Barrett’s story as a form of Marc’s empathy-sharer – as I do thinking of the millions on Earth waiting for their voicemail representative from space who subsequently sizzles to death within their rocket-brains? – and the NEW HORIZONS Editor’s own story ‘Love is the Drug’ published elsewhere (“What has to happen for perfection to no longer be enough?”) in relation to Marc’s ‘safe’ non-OCD rollercoaster ride for those bored with being OCDs?] (23 Jan 11)

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The Last Resort by Visha N. Sukdeo

“The world was suffocatingly close yet too far away to touch. It was like living under a plastic wrap.”

A well-crafted suspenseful story as the female protagonist revisits the wild volcanic scene where her loved ones were once lost. This fits so neatly into the rest of the book so far, I am taken aback, but, equally, like the other stories, it stands on its own. Here the boxed or trapped ‘incry’ is within a ‘box’ about which I will not divulge the nature for fear of spoilers.  And its sense of a rollercoaster ride away from boring ‘safeness’ as both a mixed pleasure and a grim regression towards pain as well as towards a similar sort of fulfilment presented in ‘Jetsam’.  (23 Jan 11 – two hours later)

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THE BRAVE MOLE and the Snake by John Tait

“Come outside,”

My interpolation from Mike Sarne: Come outside, come outside / There’s a lovely moon out there / Come outside, come outside /While we got time to spare / […] / Come outside,(lay off) come outside (shove it) / There’s a lovely moon out there (you are a one) …

This is a two page Aesop-like fable with an oblique moral I’m still fathoming – the ultimate boxing – by oneself? It does contribute to the gestalt, I feel – see here (Wikipedic link) but don’t if you don’t want a spoiler! (23 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)

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BBC News Item: (24 January 2011 – last updated 1.02): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12253228 (24 Jan 11)

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The Song by Travis Heermann – BFS Short Story Competition 2010 Runner-Up

“It went beyond despair to something else, somewhere else, where despair no longer mattered…”

An ostensibly straightforward story effectively conveying and culturally contextualising the rumbustious heroism and cut-throat wildness of samurai warfare – suddenly … cut-through – by a woman’s song, exquisitely threaded with her past – and the consequent softening of a samurai captain by such song’s hearing…. paralleling the rite-of-passage in “Jetsam“, the femininity of “The Smell of Milk in the Morning” as perceived via a man’s pent-up or trapped cruelty, enabling release? You will need to see.

The woman’s interpretable ‘box’ sent through space, as it were, like an ineffable human-projectile, towards “the arms of the gods and Buddhas.”  The song was the essence of how I see the human ‘incry’, as tutored so far by the fiction in this book.  And, thus, this story is potentially not straightforward at all, but supplied with depths that any depth-charged reader may fall into without warning.  But also an enjoyably compulsive read, too, for those who keep themselves safe upon its surface. (24 Jan 11 – two hours later)

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Omar, The Teller of Tales by Robin Tompkins – BFS Short Story Competition 2010 Winner

“She sang a wonderful song in the language of the birds.”

A beautiful Arabian Nights vision, stories within stories, even within a magic/fiction-proof iron cage tantamount to a ‘box’ … concupiscent, cannibalistic, potentially as well as actually cruel, hubris-nemesis of the Devs, and turning, as an audit trail of exquisite story-into-story events, towards the type of conceptual snake-image pre-figured in John Tait’s fable which in turn, almost as an earlier thematic pivot, now underpins the discovered gestalt of this NEW HORIZONS section, remaining to be seen whether it blends or competes with the DARK HORIZONS section’s gestalt yet to be read within what I anticipate becoming this book’s overall dark symphony of fictional and poetic movements. Meanwhile, this telling tale of Omar resonates in my mind with phrases such as “Free we are infinite, bound in glass we are time” and “the silence between words, more power than the words themselves.” (24 Jan 11 – another 5 hours later)

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The Thirteen Days of Christmas – a poem by Charles Christian

I suspect I was meant to read this at Christmas, since the BFS Journal book, I believe, was intended for distribution at that time.  This makes a real-time review more dangerous when it is reviewing what seems to be a real-time book!  It is a mildly provocative skit upon the tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas with Horror images instead of a partridge etc.  Fitting for the start of the DARK HORIZONS section with the Christmas star still invisibly hanging above such horizons everywhere  in the firmament, perhaps, but now with a forgotten joy for the scratchers-at-the-edges-of-life that January brings into our souls. I keep my powder dry, in case this poem fits into some pattern or gestalt. At the moment, all I can imagine is the boxer in Ian Sales’ rocket attempting to sing Christmas Carols from a space that Einsteinian relativity bends out of kilter. (24 Jan 11 – another 4 hours later)

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The Well by Robert Mammone

Depth of our Winter but hot because we’re here in Australia. Despite, for me, some clumsy expressions of language and some horror cliches and one or two typos, this enjoyable enough Pan Horror-type plot supplies a provocative ending where the well of nightmarish guilt and crime that I also recall from Stephen King’s ‘1922’ has its Australian waters muddied by a disturbing ending that still resonates in my mind and tantalises my understanding of it. Plus a fox in a hole. (24 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)

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Do You Believe a poem by Len Saculla

“Great Old Ones with pickled egg eyes,”

That’s just one line from this entrancing poem with that refrain expressed in its title – with, for me, its narrator-protagonist’s  identity in the poem’s overall audit-trail deriving from that conceptual snake-image in ‘New Horizons’.  A satisfying ending and generally a good egg, I’d say. As a wild aside, there was a mobile phone in Robert Mammone’s story and do you believe I’m listening to this poetic voice upon one, having woken me up with its trilling. (25 Jan 11)

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Prey of the Lamia a poem by Ed Shacklee

“the Lamia, partly goddess, partly snake,”

The physical enjambement of this poem is like a snake, too!  Its sssssemantics, too. And it echoes the ouroboros shape of the Saculla (plus poet as ‘you’ as potential victim)… Love it. (25 Jan 11 – an hour later)

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Unexploded Girlfriends by Carl Barker

“…with my hands and legs shackled to the woodwork…”

This is a remarkable and substantial story. Well-written, sometimes in an accomplished, but pedestrian, prose (in a good way when describing unpedestrian events), sometimes melodramatic, sometimes absurd – neatly absurd particularly in its very satisfying ending. A story of torture, madness, Poe-like devices, a pier, and coming back ouroboros-like to where you began, via a version of King’s Misery. If you don’t like torture, you won’t like this.  But, again, when you’ve read it all, I’m sure you will like it. A Fable with a Moral, like John Tait’s Mole and Snake: “I feel like a hapless mouse tied to the bottom of a grandfather clock, lured by the luxurious promise of cheese.” And it all takes place in Black-pool. And what is Mammone’s Well? Well, I leave you to read this remarkable, yet strangely pedestrian, strangely absurd, work.  And God is there somewhere, too, and Satan… (25 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)

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Plight of Ray a poem by Gary Kuyper

Terror forming terra forming

A thoughtful, Bradburyesque SFpome – paralleling the catharsis in ‘Unexploded Girlfriends’ from “unspeakable acts” … up to a point. (25 Jan 11 – another 30 minutes later)

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The Reluctant Dragon-Slayer by Sarah Dalton

An engaging story in itself – humorous, poignant, yet serious about human nature and the Beauty-and-the-Beast theme.  Incredibly, for me, this serendipitously fits a current personal gestalt of mine more than the book’s. As if it were placed here just for me! I  am still real-time reviewing at the moment ‘War With The Newts’ a SFtopia novel from 1936 by Karel Capek, one that also touches on the King Kong theme and a giant lizard…   The accidental resonance is amazing. Thanks. (25 Jan 11 – another 2 hours later)

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A Darkened Shade of Moonlight a poem by Thomas Williams

“Shadows writhe like coiled snakes”

I relished this antiquity-like verse, one including “gleaming scales” – incredibly tantamount to another Beauty and the Beast.  Yet one more poem addressed to ‘you’ (here as ‘my child’) as the potential victim… (25 Jan 11 – another 30 minutes later)

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Alone with the Dead a poem by Nadia Mook

A poem of despair, yet a subtle satisfaction (for me) that screaming is a necessary role in life to fulfil: neutralising death in some way. Or scaring death’s denizens away. Seems to fit in with various themes of the fiction and other poems in this book. Just a small cameo in its dark (sometimes light-filtered) symphony of words and images and narratives. (25 Jan 11 – another 20 minutes later)

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An Interview with Rondoli  by ‘Mighty’ Joe Young

“Days can sometimes snake in on you. All seems quiet at first, just like any other day until the coiling hissing son of a bitch wraps around you, crushing until the life is squeezed out of you…”

And that seems to contain more wisdom than a shelf-ful of philosophy books.  A story of a serial-killer clown named Boingo – with absurd elements of Welsh placenames – and I suspect that the ‘you’ being addressed is another potential victim case that darkens each horizon of ‘you’….

I have a sort of evil clown in my novella ‘Weirdtongue’; I think it is the same one by another name. Sssssseriously, this entertaining story is yet one more standalone piece in a jigsaw, one that rounds off this book’s arresting fiction and poems in suitable style. Boingo – Box-in-you-go!  Life as a  snake.  And circuses no doubt have iron cages… (25 Jan 11 – another hour later)

END

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