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

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #186, November 12, 2015

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #186, November 12, 2015

Holy Water, Holy Blood” by Bruce McAllister

The Guardian’s Head” by Tamara Vardomskaya

Reviewed by Robert L Turner III

Starting from the village of what is now Lerici on the northern Italian coast “Holy Water, Holy Blood” tells the story of a youth chosen to be the Emissary as 16th century Europe battles Vampire-like creatures. The story is obviously part of a larger tale and as such feels somewhat incomplete. That being said, the world building is professional and nicely balances historical reality with the fantastic. The pacing and description are well done and the story is enjoyable. Bruce McAllister does a fine job with this story. The story is set in the same universe as 2010’s “Blue Fire.”

In “The Guardian’s Head” by Tamara Vardomskaya the protagonist, an 18 year old girl named Lumarine, and her master must finish a sculpture and imbue it with magic before the annual floods come or risk execution. The final twist is well presaged, but not obvious. Many of the story’s details hint at a deeper metaphor as well, but the story stands on its own.


Robert Turner is a professor and long term SF reader.