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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #222, March 30, 2017

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #222, March 30, 2017

"The Shark God's Child" by Jonathan Edelstein

"Nightshade" by J. W. Halicks

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

A happy accident of the calendar offers readers a third issue this month of the biweekly publication of “literary adventure fantasy.”

"The Shark God's Child" by Jonathan Edelstein is set in a created world which resembles the isles of the Pacific. These are not ordinary bits of land, but gods and heroes which have been changed into massive rocks. The story begins when a shark god transformed into an island awakens from its ancient sleep and leaps into the sky, where it becomes a new constellation. This striking metamorphosis is a disaster for the inhabitants. The few survivors of the calamity include the protagonist, a young girl with the ability to control sharks. She is adopted by people from another island. As an adult, she learns who is responsible for the destruction of her home, as well as many other islands, and fights to free those who have been enslaved by them. The main appeal of this story is its setting, inspired by many aspects of Polynesian culture.

A touch of Ray Bradbury can be sensed in "Nightshade" by J. W. Halicks, his first published story. In a moody and poetic opening scene, the title character emerges from his underground realm, accompanied by a skeletal dog and an army of shadow beings. He makes his way to the home of a young girl whose mother is dying. The girl knows that he is here to take her mother away with him. She challenges him to a game of hide and seek, the winner to keep the mother. This is a gentle, melancholy tale, with a deceptively simple style.

Both stories have compelling and unique beginnings. As they go on, however, their plots become somewhat less original, making the reader wish that the authors had maintained the creativity found at the start of their writings.


Victoria Silverwolf lives on a wooded hilltop in the southeastern corner of Tennessee with one human and sixteen cats.