Dragons, Knights, & Angels, #45, June 2007

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"Manikin" by Josh Vogt
"Stihdjia" by Nick Ozment  
"Treatment Protocol" by Micheal Heald
"Even Dragons Dance" by Christopher Kastensmidt

In the 47 words of "Manikin," Josh Vogt manages to rewrite an old fairy tale classic. He transforms "Rumpelstiltskin" into a terrifying thriller. I found the writing amateurish, but it had great attention to detail in its descriptions. The play on words at the end falls flat, but the irony of the writer’s vision is quite clever. I came away with mixed feelings on the validity of the piece, but its length makes it worth a look for those readers who can only stop by for a moment.
"Stihdjia" by Nick Ozment is not as difficult to read as the title is to pronounce. Dragon tales always evoke in me a desire, a wanting to believe, and this one is no exception. This creature’s soul is pure and its appearance unnerving, and it claims to hold a secret so divine that the brave hero, the knight, is not willing to accept that this monster could be its guardian.  The writing here is a little heavy-handed, giving the reader no time to catch her breath, although the end line delivers a sting to anyone who has misjudged a fellow creature.

You don’t see a lot of science fiction in this venue, but "Treatment Protocol" by Micheal Heald is true SF. Eerie strangers, a laidback country doctor, and an apocalyptic setting come together in a tale Ray Bradbury and Rod Sterling would be proud of. Still, there is a lot of dialogue that didn’t go anywhere, and the stranger took on some characteristics of Star Trek‘s android character, "Data," yet he is scary yet intriguing. The narrator, a doctor turned barber, lives in a world where human medical personnel are no longer needed. He finds himself trying to diagnose a blue stranger who walks into his shop.

A polished and professional read, "Treatment Protocol" is a good pick to teleport into your imagination.
"Even Dragons Dance" by Christopher Kastensmidt begins with marital trouble between a princess and a knight. The knight’s proclivity of calling his princess-bride "your highness" in their bedchamber didn’t strike me as true to life, though I’m sure there are many wives, princesses or not, who would love to hear that. But this becomes the thread of the tale and resolves itself quite satisfactorily.  Sir Gillar, full of himself unto overflowing, sets out to kill a dragon. What he finds, amid sparkling descriptions and well rounded scenes, is a new meaning to life.

I came to respect the writer’s abilities as the story played out. The dialogue is believable and tinged with humor. Description, especially of the dragon, flies with ease.