Ideomancer, Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2005

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"Tumble" by Trent Jamieson
"Whale Falls" by Steve Mohan, Jr.
"Wall" by Brett Alexander Savory
The December 2005 issue of Ideomancer bears a consistent message of decay, from the degeneration of cities, to the destruction of our environment, to the putrefaction of humanity.

Trent Jamieson poses the question, "What if someone could become addicted to a city?" in the fantasy offering, "Tumble."  Mr. Grieve is a man addicted to the city of Wish.  An old woman, Mother Beet, hires him to find her son Daniel.  Armed with a piece of Daniel’s caul (the amniotic sack tissue from a birth), Mr. Grieve drives in search of the man who "ate a nun’s still beating heart in [the city of] Gaskel."  When he reaches his destination and confronts Daniel, the results surprise and inevitably wrap up the piece.  Each scene exudes moodiness, but unfortunately, the sullen backdrop obscures the point.  On a second reading, the plot makes more sense and Mr. Grieve’s role in a world turned magic and lawless congeals.  Jamieson’s use of the caul as a mystic connection to Daniel evokes primal emotions.

"Whale Falls" by Steve Mohan, Jr. describes the slow decay of dead whales on the ocean floor and the cycle of creatures that live on their remains.  Maryanne is a dedicated marine biologist who has modified her body (enter the science fiction element) to better withstand the grueling environment where she performs her research.  When her superiors insist she abandon her work, she flees and hides her "blind."  Her inevitable discovery builds the tension in this story, though the jumps in timeline lessen the suspense.  Global warming plays a role, affecting the numbers of whale falls as well as the smokers erupting from the Earth’s core.  The invented diving technology brings the accessibility of deep sea exploration closer to the average human being, adding an element of adventure, but in this writer’s opinion, the environmental issues put a damper on the fun.

The strongest offering in the issue is Brett Alexander Savory‘s "Wall."  A drug user stares at the blank wall in his apartment, watching cracks grow and open forth, waiting for unnamed bugs (though they’re obviously cockroaches) to spew forth.  To avoid the insect invasion, he goes for a walk only to witness violence against another junkie.  Back at home, the bugs appear, as do larger gruesome visitors.  The surreal glimpse into the mixed-up head of the protagonist gives the story its meat, tone, and brilliance.  Atmosphere lurks around every corner, amazing twists of word and deed tie the package together with a blood red bow and drop kick it straight into the reader’s psyche where it sticks like glue.

Overall, morsels of hope are few and far between, but the outcomes are worth the unnerving journeys.