Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #31

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Image“The Garden of the Djinn” by Dirk Flinthart
“Wicked View” by Marie Alafaci
“The Promise” by Sonny Whitelaw
“How I Learned to Keep Tidy” by Matthew Chrulew
“Reading the Lines” by J J Irwin
“The Haunting of Jig’s Ear” by Jim C. Hines
“Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist” by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
“The Neighborly Thing” by Suzanne Palmer
“Sing” by Mary O R Paddock
“Getting the Curse” by Susan Abel Sullivan

Dirk Flinthart
tells a traditional Old World fantasy in “The Garden of the Djinn.”  Bahiti, servant of Savilius, has a harrowing adventure in the city of Granada when an assassin pays a visit.  This story reminded me of Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan, a novel I admired for its style but never finished because the subject matter didn’t appeal to me.  Flinthart’s style is similar, and there is some fine writing here.  A good escapist tale that will appeal to fans of this subgenre.

“Wicked View” by Marie Alafaci concerns a fat jogger who encounters a suicide jumper on a bridge.  They chat, argue a bit, until the fat jogger’s identity is revealed.  Knowing I’d be writing a review of this story, I was probably overly aware that Alafaci didn’t give the characters a proper name.  Though the technique is obvious, Alafaci plays this to good effect.  The fat jogger’s revealed identify is the fantastical element of this story, of course.  No, I’m not going to tell you who he is.  The protag’s sardonic wit saves this short-short from its lack of originality.  At 2,200 words, it works.

In Sonny Whitelaw’s “The Promise,” strange, evil beings have brought the Crack-gnashers and Strikers to Kandee’s world, where the determined mother struggles to keep her young offspring alive.  On the run with Guluu through the killing grounds, a cyclone is threatening to strike tomorrow.  This is all a frame of sorts as the last bit of the story switches to our modern-day world with Jeannie and her son, Cody, wading through the dead or dying koalas to drive the environmentalist theme home.  In the author’s bio, “The Promise” is dedicated to those animals that died following the failed battle to save Daisy Hill.  I consider myself a staunch animal lover, but I found the fictional treatment too sentimental, heavy-handed, and strained for effect.  While powerful, I don’t like having my emotional buttons pushed with an SF conceit in this particular way, no matter how noble the cause.

Though not a bad title, Matthew Chrulew’s “How I Learned to Keep Tidy” pretty much gives away the plot of this haunted house story.  Our nameless narrator lives with his girlfriend, Jules, and of course their crib is a mess.  Enter the ghost.  Chrulew certainly has the gift of voice, but I soon found the narrative tedious.  Halfway through the tale, the dialogue does pick up and the meandering first person gathers focus, but this was way too long for the small story here.  Fun, but longwinded.

In her first published story, J J Irwin tells a fun tale in “Reading the Lines.”  Ginny is a palm reader, and on the day of the summer solstice, an intimidating woman gives her a severed hand to read the lines of.  This eventually leads Ginny to her friend, Lowell, whom the hand belongs to, and his crop circles he’s creating in a field.  The big showdown follows.  This is a clever tale, showing promise from this new author.

I tried not to like “The Haunting of Jig’s Ear,” as it’s a rather silly story, but author Jim C. Hines surprised me.  Jig the goblin is banished to a cave by Lurok for putting a carrion worm in his chamber pot.  Deprived of food, Jig endeavors to clean crud from his ear with a magic wand when the essence of a female wizard named Mure becomes lodged there.  Soon Lurok arrives, and the three of them are off further down the cave on an improbable adventure.  Despite the lack of eyeball kicks, the world came alive for me.  A slight story, but an entertaining one.

“Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist” by Shane Jiraiya Cummings is just that.  Told in journal form, the entries tell of a young reluctant antichrist who only wants to get laid.  While crows gather outside his window, his Aunt Lucia seems to be a governing figure behind it all.  This will most likely appeal to those who appreciate an off-beat religious theme or have ever been the weird kid in school.

In “The Neighborly Thing” by Suzanne Palmer, Emma, a farmer’s wife, confronts her next door neighbor because of bad magic being inflicted upon the town.  A rain of purple toads is the latest annoying incident, and it’s time someone put a stop to all this.  Mrs. Greenbough is the witch in question, and since she’s getting up there in age, it’s time she pass the mantle of sorcery down to the next generation.  Another light tale, one that unfortunately didn’t have as great of a dénouement as as it could have had, but still much fun.

“Sing” by Mary O R Paddock is a mermaid tale of sorts.  In the opening scene, a man is burying a strange bundle on the beach while whales sing in the distance.  Soon we learn that Curt is in love with Thelia, but she rejects his marriage proposal.  Confessing that she’s not entirely human and must live near the sea, they eventually part ways, only to come back together again.  This is a fine, powerful tale that avoids the clichés of popular myth, past and present.  Recommended.

Told in second person, Susan Abel Sullivan’s “Getting the Curse” is an extended flash piece about teenager Kirsten who’s left at home while the other womenfolk are off on a “Ladies Night out.”  Jason Lamb, the hunky new senior who just moved to town, drops by.  He’s “New Blood,” as Kirsten’s girlfriends would say.  For those who’ve read Suzy McKee Charnas’s Hugo-winning story, “Boobs,” the comparison is difficult not to make.  While a fun read, it adds nothing new to Charnas’s much-anthologized tale.