Waylines #1, January 2013
Reviewed by Jared L. Mills
This is the first issue of Waylines, a new pro-paying, bi-monthly speculative fiction online magazine that also includes film reviews, interviews and editorials. The original illustrations were all first-rate, completing the stories nicely. Sadly, the original fiction presented in the first issue was the weakest part of Waylines. Hopefully, the magazine is just experiencing some freshman jitters and will manage to score some stronger material in future issues.
“An Echo in the Shell” by Beth Cato
This fantasy/science fiction tale concerns a young girl named Allison dealing with her grandmother’s affliction of “Kafka Syndrome.” As one can imagine from the name of the condition, this disease causes the infected to slowly start turning into insects, which includes exhibiting insect-like behavior before their bodies completely transform. It is the moments of Allison describing the funny, loving grandma she once loved transforming into a creature who behaves completely out of character that the story really shines. However, the scenes between Allison and her alcoholic mother feel trite and a bit forced, as if ripped straight from something on the WB. The climax of the story has a few moments of genuine suspense, but the lead up feels unnatural and it’s hard not to feel the presence of the author in the story.
“Fleep” by Jeremy Sim
Nicholas and Boon run a failing hotel in a post-alien contact Earth trying to make enough money for Po Po to receive chemo treatments. However, things are starting to look up when an affluent family of alien tourists shows up looking for accommodations. The key to the plot hijinks turns on the aliens being thermavores, that is they eat heat, and excrete—well, cold. This story is firmly in Douglas Adams territory, which is admittedly my least favorite kind of science fiction. It’s cute without being particularly funny and the characters are all annoying, not to mention the confused patois that appears and disappears at random. A silly idea that reads like something Analog would consider a b-side story.
“The Message Between the Words” by Grayson Bray Morris
Ankti Remsi is a space pilot exploring the mysterious Kleisterman nodes in space that have the amazing property of allowing messages to travel back in time. The story starts off interestingly enough as odd things begin to happen in Ankti’s shuttle, all while she recounts both her crush on a school instructor and inspirational moments with her brother. But the strange happenings and the nodes never really align into any sort of real scientific interest, thus robbing tension from Ankti’s peril. However, the biggest sin this story commits is having an ending so devoid of any influence of feminist thought it can’t help but elicit an eye roll.