Crossed Genres #25, January 2015

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Crossed Genres #25, January 2015

“Cabaret Obscuro” by Julian Mortimer Smith
“Distant Gates of Eden Gleam” by Brian Trent
“The Lion God” by Benjamin Blattberg

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

Crossed Genres is a relatively new online magazine that publishes themed issues monthly. The first theme for 2015 is “Indoctrinate,” and, like many theme issues, lets the author decide how to interpret it.

“Camera Obscuro” is set in a cabaret where xenos—it’s not clear whether they’re aliens or are just genetically enhanced—perform for humans. Truddla is a performer there, who plays the trumpet and has a striptease act. It tells how she finds the cabaret. Julian Mortimer Smith has some very imaginative creatures, but the story doesn’t do a lot other than reveal the situation.

Brian Trent‘s “Distant Gates of Eden Gleam” shows James Porlock as he starts with a new job, where he is an “Illuminary,” part of the cabal that are the secret masters of the world. It’s dull work, carrying out mysterious orders and trying not to get into trouble by the people who rule the Fourteen Continents (most, of course, are kept secret from mere mortals). Porlock turns out to be not the type of worker they thought they were getting, however. I loved the setup, and the juxtaposition between the sinister and the mundane, though I can’t shake the feeling at the end that the secret masters seemed to have made a pretty obvious error.

“The Lion God” is meant literally: an actual Godlike being who rules Earth and whose very presence inspires love and devotion. The story is from the point of view of a rebel woman who has been caught and interrogated. The God comes to finish the job, his truly awesome presence making it difficult for her not to betray everything. Benjamin Blattberg has set up a fascinating situation, and I did like the conflict between the protagonist’s plans and her urge to worship the God, but I think he’s set up an impossible situation to come up with a solution that wouldn’t work given the context of the story.

The magazine does live up to its title; it’s hard to classify the stories as one genre or another. The result is interesting more for the imaginative concepts than the storytelling.

Chuck Rothman’s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate were recently republished by Fantastic Books. His stories recently appeared in Analog, Triangulation: Parch, and Fantasy Super Pack I.