Beneath Ceaseless Skies #64, March 10, 2011

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #64, March 10, 2011

“Breathing Sunshine” by Garth Upshaw
“Mr. Morrow Becomes Acquainted with the Delicate Art of Squid Keeping” by
Geoffrey Maloney

Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell

Breathing Sunshine” by Garth Upshaw tells the tale of Desmond’s desperate mission, trying to reach Fort Clatsop before nightfall. He’s waylaid on a bridge by a fanged pixie seeking a toll, and then he’s almost killed by an orca. After he reaches the fort, he discovers he’s been betrayed by the pixie. When she’s attacked and Desmond rushes to her aid, he finally sees things from a different viewpoint. In his success may reside his greatest failure.

If you’ve read C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy, you’ll see the similarity in the concept, and have a clue what’s going on. If not, you may be scratching your head through most of this tale, trying to make sense of it.

In “Mr. Morrow Becomes Acquainted with the Delicate Art of Squid Keeping” by Geoffrey Maloney, Victor Morrow must make a difficult choice. On the seventeenth, he’d planned to attend the Danse Macabre at Toowong Cemetery. Then he receives a coveted invitation to one of Madame Florabette Brackensfield’s squidder parties, billed as an evening of scientific experimentation and enlightenment. It’s planned for the same night. He decides to attend it, instead. There, together with his companions, he uncovers some incredible secrets about the recent Kraken Wars.

The story has an amusing voice, Mardi Gras meets Downing Street. It’s a long story and partway in, a rapid interjection of characters and subplots take it off on a tangent. The Danse Macabre, it turns out, is more red herring than story line. The tale is interesting enough to be worth reading, although the lack of character motive and emotion turns it rather flat.