Space & Time, Spring 2000

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"Road Decoy" by James Van Pelt
"White Phantom" by Charlee Jacob
"Le Demon Riant" by Patricia Russo
"Infinite Offspring" by Charles Anders
"Golden Hands" by Katherine Woodbury
"The Source Code's Apprentice" by Robyn Bates MacKenzie
"Venusian Leather" by Raud Allen Kennedy
"Alien Girl From The 11th" by Lorraine Schein
"Love Like A Hydra" by Chris Huntington

Space And Time has been published for twenty plus years, and offers a full load of fiction and poetry. As you might expect, I found the current issue to be a mixed bag of tales ranging from so-so to very good, but each with an odd twist.

"Alien Girl From The 11th" by Lorraine Schein is an odd, unfocused short short that I never did get a handle on. A young woman is convinced she's an alien from another dimension although she was born and raised here on Earth. Yet she is sure she has access to her other world through the spaces between reality here. In the end, it's unclear if she is mentally ill or truly from elsewhere.

"Venusian Leather" by Raud Allen Kennedy is a fun romp in a 1930s style SF universe, where aliens lust after nubile Earth women. Mistress Venus-Venus is a leather-clad prostitute who has stolen a UFO from its blue skinned owner. Now she roams the universe doing battle with the owner's brethren, the terrible lesbians from the planet Lesbo, and the male chauvinist rapists from yet another world. It's all good fun, but it never really goes anywhere.

"Road Decoy" By James Van Pelt is a fine horror tale set in the present. Les is a psych grad student working with his undergrad girlfriend Tina on a psych experiment. The experiment gives people the opportunity to act cruelly to small animals without anyone supposedly knowing. But Tina finds the idea of random cruelty too alluring, and slowly drifts towards that pole. Sadly, we see the ending far in advance, as she desperately tries to drag Les with her.

"The Source Codes Apprentice" by Robyn Bates MacKenzie is another unfocused tale looking at the life of a university grad student. Jennifer is the student who accidentally stumbles upon a new form of nano-robot that takes possession of a broom. Like Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice, the broom becomes self motivating. Overall, it was amusing, but I never did get the point of the tale.

"Golden Hands" by Katherine Woodbury was an enjoyable tale of demon curses and how they can go wrong. Rachel has the power to make gold from straw, a curse placed on her by a demon. Not a bad thing, you say? This ability has destroyed her life, leaving her without family or friend. Anyone who comes to her is possessed by greed, rather than any form of human kindness. In the end, she wishes only death, but with a nice twist in store for the reader.

"Infinite Offspring" by Charles Anders is another short short about human tragedy. Two parents have given the twin to their expected child for use in creating new organs and other body parts for those in need. But disaster strikes, taking their son from them. Still, his brother lives on in new kidneys, hearts and lungs grown from the fetal tissue.

"Le Demon Riant" by Patricia Russo is a fun tale of two unemployed scholars wandering in France in the middle ages. They plan to pretend to the trade of pig castrators, since there is little employment for newly graduated scholars. But then they stumble upon a demon-haunted well, and in so doing find a trade. A good rousing tale, all in all.

"White Phantom" by Charlee Jacob is a disturbing look at us today through the eyes of a future world that little resembles ours. This brave new world is peopled by genetically altered immortal eunuchs who watch the history of our time as a form of entertainment. We rouse them in ways their own world cannot.

The last and best tale is "Love Like A Hydra" by Chris Huntington. Stacy and Wong are miners on Venus desperate to escape the misery of their existence. All they have is their love. So they try to murder and steal their way to freedom, but with dismal results. Each time they are caught they lose a bit of their humanity even if they retain their feelings for each other. But it is not enough. In the end they long only for death, which they discover is unachievable..

All in all, this is a fine issue of Space and Time. I recommend it to you.

Jim Reichert has been a reviewer for Tangent for a number of years on such periodicals as Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Talebones. He's a government lawyer specializing in the field of child abuse prosecutions, and lives with his wife and family in a rural area of southern Delaware. He has been writing short stories and novels for 5-10 years on a sporadic basis, and had his first fiction publication in the e-zine Dark Matter Chronicle, in its June 2000 issue.