— April 2012

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting., April 2012

“Prophet” by Jennifer Bosworth
“On 20468 Petercook” by Andy Duncan
“The Inconstant Moon” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Reviewed by Bob Leishman

Rance is the son of a prophet.  That prophet, his father, controls the community in which he lives.  Bereft of conventional technology, Rance’s father delivers his sermons from the pulpit of their church where he separates the innocent from the guilty and gives the date for the end of the world.

Jennifer Bosworth is using this story largely to develop Rance as a character.  Nevertheless, “Prophet” is a well rounded story that offers the kind of dialogue and narration that makes it a worthwhile read.  I liked this story.

Think of Laurel and Hardy and Abbot and Costello and you think of contrasts — one short  and the other tall or one fat and the other thin.  In this kind of comedy there has to be a straight man — someone to reflect on the antics of the other who is the comic protagonist.

“On 20468 Petercook” is not that kind of story although it does feature two characters who’ve developed a unique relationship with each other.  Andy Duncan has given us two characters, Stanley and George, who’ve been stuck together on a ship in the Asteroid belt for much too long.  Their work together, as employees of Trans-Space Enterprises, is to adjust solar sails.

They appear at first to be disarmingly alike, but as we get into the story it becomes apparent that they’re both eccentric, but in different ways.  These eccentricities nudge the plot back and forth and provide a contrast. This is more or less what certain British comics have been on about.  It’s a great story in a great tradition.

In “The Inconstant Moon” Alaya Dawn Johnson creates an alternate 1920s.  Here women have still just been given the vote and booze is, of course, illegal, but vampires and were creatures (weredogs, were birds, etc.) have created some serious social problems.

Johnson’s heroine Zephyr Hollis is the daughter of Montana’s leading demon hunter and has been trained, from an early age, to hunt vampires.  As the story opens she’s leaving Montana for New York City where she hopes to find herself.  Although she intends to support herself hunting vampires she doesn’t feel, as her father does, that all vampires are necessarily bad and must be done away with.  Law abiding vampires are tolerated in New York and Zephyr is interested in meeting one.

Johnson offers, in Zephyr Hollis, a likeable and interesting character which is primarily why I liked the story.  She’s more interested in the vampires of New York City than the city itself which makes for a nice focused read.