“The Princess and her Assailants” by Bruce Holland Rogers
“Song of the Mine-Born” by Len Bains
“National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West” by Sarah Monette
“Tulips” by Will McIntosh
“Play Date” by John Sunseri
“Sing for Me” by Marie Brennan
“Supply Ship” by Sara Polsky
“NA/578934” by Claire O’Brien
“Butterfly Jesus Saves the World” by Rahul Kanakia
“The Call” by Jennifer Pelland
“Havermeyer’s Ink” by Peter Mackey
The second issue of Fictitious Force contains twelve sparkling diamonds that span the range of speculative fiction from experimental styles to traditional and everywhere in between. Whether you prefer thought-provoking tales, emotional stories, or just good entertainment, there’s at least one story in here for any reader. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more action-oriented stories, myself, but overall I wasn’t disappointed.
“Even without Deceit” by Marissa K. Lingen is about a woman named Toni who can see the spirit personifications of abstract verbs like Patience, Wisdom, and Deceit. Deceit has been her archenemy for quite some time, and when he begins to plague a battered women’s shelter, Toni is determined to stop him. But how much is she willing to sacrifice to do so, and by doing so is she actually falling to Deceit’s machinations? A clever, well-written story with an equally clever concept, it’s a great start to this issue.
“The Princess and her Assailants” by Bruce Holland Rogers is Sleeping Beauty with a humorous, cynical twist. It’s guaranteed to keep you laughing even after you’ve finished reading.
“Song of the Mine-Born” by Len Baines is a tale about slavery and freedom in a world where magic is dying out. The antagonists, called the Thrells, will chill you to the bone. And Nage’s heroism is made more heroic by the nature of the obstacles he must overcome to win his freedom: fear and pain. Baines delivers a potent theme with a tale sure to entertain.
“National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West” by Sarah Monette is a flash fiction piece about captive mermaids from the POV of a photographer. It’s “slice-of-life” in form, so don’t expect a beginning, middle, or end. Still, it’s a fun read, even if the theme seems a little too obvious.
“Tulips” by Will McIntosh takes the Dutch tulip craze in 1636 and turns it into a futuristic SF tale of alien merchants and mayhem. Well worth a read.
In “Play Date” by John Sunseri, an autistic child is tormented by a demon. But is the demon real or just a delusion? Though Sunseri leaves that answer open for the reader to decide, his story gives a glimpse into the nature of autism and the challenges that parents of autistic children must deal with.
“Sing for Me” by Marie Brennan is a tragic tale of betrayal. I didn’t care for the ending, but that was mostly due to my liking the character, Ema, so much.
“Supply Ship” by Sara Polsky is a flash piece about a teacher who is given a special gift by her students: a rocket ship made from school supplies. But will it fly? An interesting, heartfelt piece that’s sure to get those warm fuzzy feelings revved up.
“NA/578934” by Claire O’Brien is a predestination tale that reflects the power and magic of music. Her scenes resemble the melancholy mood of Poe but mixed with beautiful imagery. It will leave you sad and hopeful at the same time.
“Butterfly Jesus Saves the World” by Rahul Kanakia takes the “when a butterfly spreads it wings…” idea and turns it into a message of Salvation. Part allegory, part parable, with a possible dash of whimsical comedy thrown in, this story is worth reading at least twice: once for enjoyment, then at least once more for reflection.
“The Call” by Jennifer Pelland starts off with “Would you give up your humanity if it meant saving everyone else’s?” And after reading this story, done in an experimental style, you may be left wondering if such a sacrifice would be worth it. This is the most thought-provoking story in this issue.
“Havermeyer’s Ink” by Peter Mackey is set in an Orwellian dystopia where freedom of speech no longer exists. But in addition to showing technology oppressing humanity, Mackey also shows how technology can liberate. A politically themed story with a message that readers, regardless of political leanings, will find valuable.