"Karma & The Lucky Dog" by Michael Scott
"Christmas at the Chushingura Cafe" by Stephen Dedman
"Slow Rapture" by Rhonda Eikamp
"The Brother" by Raud Allen Kennedy
"The Birthright" by M. Christian
"Harlot of Time" by Laurel Anne Hill
"The Burning Ones" by D.K. Latta
"The Further Adventures of Billy Casino and the Kids With Lamb Legs" by Jeff Grimshaw
"Pentheus' Dream" by Dirk van Nouhuys
I must confess I was disappointed by the Spring issue of Space and Time. It wasn't that the stories were bad, but that they weren't particularly impressive. Most just never seemed to catch fire for me.
"Karma and the Lucky Dog" misses primarily because it ends up plowing familiar ground. Robert Fleck is a cigarette smoker with a particular superstition about the "lucky dog," a cigarette you turn around to get good luck — and always smoke last. He discovers that the superstition is real, and begins to use it to his advantage. Author Michael Scott makes Robert too much of a jerk to care about, and the ending is merely standard ironic justice.
Stephen Dedman has a nice short short, "Christmas at the Cushingura Cafe," a clever amalgamation of karaoke and seppuku. It's also reprinted from Issue #87, where it was published with Dedman's name misspelled. I liked it most — a bad sign, since this isn't really intended to be a showcase story.
By far the best concept for a story comes with Rhonda Eikamp's "Slow Rapture," where people suddenly start floating away into the sky. Tania wonders why it is happening, and muses upon the reasons. I liked most of the story, with good characters and some fine conflicts (the minister who wants to float away to — presumably — God, but cannot), but Tania's motivation at the end seemed unclear.
I'm still scratching my head over the point of "The Brother" by Raud Allen Kennedy. In it, Fitzpatric McClellan is bitten by a rattlesnake and is pronounced dead. But there is a miraculous recovery, and the hint that something has possessed the boy. Whatever it is — some sort of native American legend, I guess — is left opaque. I know that the author expected Fitz's actions to explain things, but whatever legend he is taking it from is too obscure for me to recognize.
A more familiar legend is contained in "Birthright" by Katherine Woodbury. Each generation, a mermaid kidnaps the first-born of Laura's family. Laura fears for her son Alec and his father takes steps to prevent the theft. But things aren't quite the way they seem. The story has some good twists and surprises, but for some reason didn't resonate with me.
"Harlot of Time" by Laurel Anne Hill has a biblical feel. Set in a dystopian city, it tells about Lulu, a hooker with a very long history. She and her bodyguards rescue a young girl on the night all hell breaks loose. A nice setting and characters, but the mysticism at the end doesn't quite work for me.
D.K. Latta has mixed fantasy and science fiction in "The Burning Ones," with the idea that the faery folk have returned, making Earth their domain. The hero goes to the gargoyles for help in rescuing his lover from a mad scientist out to destroy the world. I liked some of the elements here a lot (like what you can do to pay a creature made of stone) and the story is generally well done.
The clumsiest title award goes to "The Further Adventures of Billy Casino and the Kid with Lamb Legs." The two heroes have a series of adventures as troubleshooters for Dr. Maldeger. There's a bit of a space opera feel to the piece by Jeff Grimshaw, which works as a series of linked vignettes (which seem to tie together). Pleasant, if unexceptional.
The final story is "Pentheus' Dream," by Dirk van Nouhuys. Pentheus has a dream, with leads to a ceremony…I think. I confess I was bored by it. Two-thirds of the story is description of the ceremony, and it was hard to figure out the point of it all.
I've seen better from Space & Time and hope that this is just a temporary lapse.
Chuck Rothman has appeared in Asimov's, F&SF, Realms of Fantasy, Aboriginal SF, and in the anthologies Vampires and Between the Darkness and the Fire, among other places. He has stories upcoming in Absolute Magnitude and MZB's Fantasy Magazine. He lives in Schenectady with his wife Susan and daughter, Lisa and has a web page at http://www.sff.net/people/rothman. He is a regular reviewer for Tangent.