Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021

Deep Magic #72, Spring 2021

“Geiger’s Escape” by Kajetan Kwiatkowski

“Perfectly Painted Lies” by Brittany Rainsdon

“The Best Chocolate Cake Has a Touch of Bitter” by Alice Towey

“Veins of My Sister” by Marie Croke

“The Dance of Swords” by JC Kang

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

The spring 2021 issue of Deep Magic starts out with a very unusual point of view. The title character of “Geiger’s Escape” is a spider. Not some sort of alien or magic one, but rather an actual laboratory spider who has gained sentience. Geiger is not happy being trapped in a terrarium and tries to enlist the help of Leda, a caterpillar, who is also sentient and who has no trust for the spider, and has no desire to escape. Kajetan Kwiatkowski takes the type of situation that you’d expect to see in a fable and gives it some real depth of emotion.

Brittany Rainsdon’s “Perfectly Painted Lies” is set in a very strange art college, where the students are harassed to make sure they are painting things exactly right. Hildegarde has been there for years and isn’t sure why the instructors are so adamant. After a friend gets into trouble, she begins to explore the reason for the practices, and searches in the basement to discover the reason for it all. An interesting voyage of discovery tale with strong characters.

“The Best Chocolate Cake Has a Touch of Bitter” by Alice Towey is the story of Marigold, a young woman who has a talent for baking. She and her best friend Juliet are in a school to teach magic. Juliet wants to move on to a higher level and expects Marigold to go along with her, but Marigold has other plans. The theme is following your dream, even if that dream sounds mundane and I thought it did a great job of balancing the emotions involved.

Marie Croke contributes the science fiction story “Veins of My Sister.” Set in Tews City on the outskirts of civilized space, Jes is responsible for the station’s defense. But that job was supposed to go to her older sister Shana, who was given the “veins” that controlled the defense system, but who ran off to find adventure. Without the veins, defense has to be run by their mother, and when the station is attacked, there seems to be some big problems. Interesting space opera that deals with the frustrations of family.

“The Dance of Swords” by JC Kang tells of a woman who has to kill the dictator Geros in order to prevent war and her only method is to perform a dance with swords in the hope she can catch him off guard. While the situation is a tense one, I found it was too easy to defeat Geros, and the method was pulling weaknesses out of nowhere. I believe they are standard terms in acupuncture, but it is too close to a deus ex machina for my tastes.

Overall, a first-class collection of stories.

Chuck Rothman’s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate are available from by Fantastic Books.