Beneath Ceaseless Skies #160, November 13, 2014

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #160, November 13, 2014

“A Guest of the Cockroach Club” by M. Bennardo
“The Streetking” by Peter Hickman

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

Beneath Ceaseless Skies for mid-November starts out with a story set in a little-used fantasy milieu – early 19th century America. U.S. Senator Warren is traveling to be “A Guest of the Cockroach Club,” in need of a favor. The club, and its leader, named Roach, is part of a dark cabal that truly runs everything in the country. Warren (and all other senators) owes his job to the Club, and knows he risks it if Roach is displeased. But Warren cannot avoid asking for help, at the high price. M. Bennardo creates the type of mix of fantasy and reality I always like: where the fantasy elements of the past are hidden from history. The story deals with issues of power; Warren is a man conflicted about it. The result is some fine reading.

“The Streetking” by Peter Hickman is story of the underclass in a fantasy city, ruled by the Streetking. Dustrabbit meets a young woman who is fiery and proud, and takes her under his wing at various points in her life and discovers the strength of her ambition. I found the style of the story to be very choppy and hard to follow and never really connected with the character or the action, which plows a familiar path with no surprises.

Chuck Rothman is the author of the novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate. His story, “Ulenge Prime,” will be appearing in an upcoming Analog.