Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett
The 4th issue of Constellary Tales has four original short stories.
“CurioQueens” by Ephiny Gale
Victoria is keen to play the cursed game CurioQueens in this short fantasy. The game can bring good fortune or death, because whatever its playing cards say, comes true. When she plays with her mother, the game foretells the arrival of her soulmate, whom she later meets and marries. Other games bring bad fortune and finally, broken-hearted, Victoria leaves home.
But the game follows her, and though she tries to make money from letting others play, the game’s curse continues to bring her mixed fortunes. Can she ever break the curse?
The plot was interesting, though the prose was choppy and lacked an even flow.
“As Friends Rust” by James C. Bassett
Bassett’s SF short follows Arel as his ship traverses the galaxy, looking for any remains of humanity’s expansion. The AI, Sol, controls the ship and regulates Arel’s sleep for the epochs between planetary visits.
After four million years, Sol finds the best example of human life. But for Arel the humanoids have evolved too far to give him hope of a new home. Is there much purpose to continuing the search?
This story lacked enough action or intrigue to make it engaging, though some of the ideas were interesting.
“Eros on the Mineral Sea” by Steve Oden
This SF short is set in a place where the sea is an ever-moving mass of solid and molten minerals, stirred by magnetic fields. The Odysseus is a ship seeking treasures on this bizarre sea and has a hold full of gems when they spot a squam, rich in oil.
The greedy captain wants to take the squam’s oil, even though the ship’s hold is already full. Bartleby and his love interest are on a rail boat, following the captain’s orders. But hunting a squam is dangerous for the hunters.
The author created an imaginative world setting and filled it with a simple plot.
“Deathfeed” by Jason P. Burnham
They find the Artifact deep underground in this SF short. And Pilar’s wife volunteers to investigate. Whatever the Artifact is, the death rate accelerates, keeping the AI deathfeed announcer busy as it reads off the names.
Pilar listens to the communications, dreading the announcement of her wife’s demise. A whole sector dies. Then Pilar hears once more from her wife, and the news is troubling.
The prose was easy to read, and the plot’s mysteries kept it interesting.