Fantasy Magazine #50, May 2011

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Fantasy Magazine #50,  May 2011

“Study, for Solo Piano” by Genevieve Valentine
“Creation” by Jeffrey Ford May 9, 2011 (Reprint)
“The Devil in Gaylord’s Creek” by Sarah Monette
“Sandmagic” Orson Scott Card (Reprint)

Reviewed by Kevin R. Tipple

One of the stories that is part of Genevieve Valentine’s new novel, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresalti (published by Prime Books, April 2011) “Study, for Solo Piano,” tells the tale of how the group once found an abandoned mansion more than 2 miles from the walls of an unnamed city. The building was in bad shape, but a winter storm raged across the barren landscape surrounding the group and the boss decided taking shelter inside the crumbling structure would be better than staying in their leaky trailers and tents.

The group of the Circus Tresaulti is made up of various misfits. Some are human, some are something else, and all seem to have deep stories that are only hinted at here. The hints are often short and designed for maximum impact. Such as Alec who delights in the birds in the building and we are told “will be dead within a year.” There is Panadrome, the last piano player in the world, who dares not touch the piano with his skeletal silver fingers that are not bone. These are but two of the several talented and troubled performers who comprise the circus group, who travel like gypsies in a war-torn world.

The presence of the group is noted and before long it becomes clear that once again they are not going to be left alone. Some battles are easier to fight than others.  The fight within is always harder than the fight with the massing enemy outside. At some point giving up beautiful things has to stop.

This is a story of loneliness, heartache and painful beauty set in a post apocalypse type world.  With few words the author quickly establishes a number of different characters that take root and flourish for the reader.  I hesitate to say more as I don’t want to give away too much and ruin the opportunity for you to read this moving story yourself.  The accompanying author interview with Genevieve Valentine delves into the background of this story and how it interlocks into the world of her new novel.  Interesting stuff and well worth your time from either a writer or reader perspective.

It may or may not be the devil in Georgia but the first thing that needs to be dealt with is a dust witch in the action story “The Devil in Gaylord’s Creek” by Sarah Monette.  Her latest partner, Francis, reminds her that though the dust witch is small and stupid and can’t do much of anything in its isolated area, one doesn’t want small evil to grow into big evil. Besides that, Morgan has a duty to deal with all evil if she is going to carry the sword called “Stella Mortua,” meaning “The Dead Star.”  The scabbard and the hilt of the sword may be taped up and look a bit shabby, but the killing blade is “deadly and perfect.”

So, Morgan grabs her sword and leaves her partner, Francis, behind in the car with a final, “This better not take too long….” comment.  It’s a start to cleaning out the neighborhood. But, even those brought back from the dead first need a shower before dealing with big evil. A girl has got to look good in her fighting clothes even if she is dead and does not have a driver’s license.

Looking good, and the tattooed Morgan definitely does, is not going to help when Francis goes missing. Morgan has to rescue him from the Devil in a southern town where evil is thick, thanks to the local Baptist Church, and has taken over the populace.

This is the kind of action adventure tale that you just roll with.  No deep philosophy to get in the way of plenty of action and lots of kicking tail.  Morgan does what needs to be done in this fast moving tale.

Beyond the obvious deep references to Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the story, Sarah Monette explains the details behind the story in her author interview. Along with explaining the background and various other interesting details, she discusses future plans. Well worth your time to read, the piece is interesting and informative.

This was my first experience reading Fantasy Magazine and I found both stories very good for very different reasons. Extreme opposites in themes, styles and meanings, both stories feature different visions of a future it would be best to avoid if at all possible. Both stories feature complex characters with lots of back story and interesting events. They are worth reading and should appeal to most readers.