“Shapeshifter” by Vanessa McKinney
“The Failing Name” by Eugen Bacon and Seb Doubinsky
“My List of Bedtime Bogeyman Blues” by Sarina Dorie
“Ghost Riders at Hutchinson’s Two-Pump” by Inez Schaechterle
Reviewed by Mike Bickerdike
Fantasy comprises 4 stories this month, including 2 pieces of flash fiction. The quality is mixed, but there should be something of enjoyment for most readers.
“Shapeshifter” by Vanessa McKinney is a short piece of flash-fiction about an extra-terrestrial shapeshifter who loves a gay black woman, and who worries that revealing her true self will ruin their relationship. The story is too short to develop a real connection with the characters or to convey emotional depth. It’s also unfortunate the opening line doesn’t make good sense (it should perhaps be ‘too much or too little’, not ‘too much to too little’), though this may be a typographical error.
“The Failing Name” by Eugen Bacon and Seb Doubinsky is a rather opaque short story, which lacks clarity, such that the reader has to work hard to understand what’s transpiring. A young woman from The Congo is sent overseas by her mother to live with an aunt in Paris. In between passages describing her life there, the young woman dreams of a boy she rescued from a rape back in Kinshasa. Ultimately, she connects with the boy in some form. Written in overly elaborate purple prose, and full of metaphors which rarely ring true, some readers may find it hard to engage with the story, which deep down under all the prose flourishes, has a rather thin plot.
“My List of Bedtime Bogeyman Blues” by Sarina Dorie is literally a list, recording the protagonist’s erotic desires for the ‘bogeyman’ under her bed. This is amusing flash fiction.
“Ghost Riders at Hutchinson’s Two-Pump” by Inez Schaechterle is an entertaining short story, which is both well-written and engaging. The Jubles gang, made up of four bandits who died in the old West, come back to Arizona as ghosts in modern times, where they meet up with George, who’s at the end of his tether. The dialogue is amusing and deftly handled, and the story is effective, despite its simplicity, making it the highlight of this issue of Fantasy.
Mike Bickerdike’s reviews and thoughts on science-fiction can be found at https://starfarersf.nicepage.io/