Amazing Journeys, issue #12

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.
"To Give by Taking" by Monte Davis
"Orestes Sleeps" by Gary Madden
"Diplopia" by Sandy Waldron
"Angels" by Bill Abbott
"Alienable Rights" by Gary Ponzo
"Essex" by Donnie Clemons
"Breakdown" by Terofil Alexander Gizelbach
"Such Dreams" by Robert Orme
"Selchie" by Amber Morris

Sadly, Amazing Journeys is closing its doors.  They begin their last issue with a powerful and moving story by Monte Davis, "To Give by Taking."  Lesha has always been sickly; pronounced clinically dead on three occasions, it’s a wonder she’s alive at all.  But Lesha is alive, and she has a strange gift, the ability to take other people’s gifts and abilities simply by concentrating.  Her first attempt leaves her best friend sick and disoriented, her second leaves three people dead.  Lesha is devastated by the deaths and struggles to come to grips with herself and what she’s done, until finally, she learns how to give by taking.  The story is hauntingly beautiful as the author explores what it means to give and to take, and ultimately what it means to be human.  Well worth the read. 
Next up is a story by Gary Madden, "Orestes Sleeps," featuring Phil Dyson from the story "Dyson’s Planet" in Issue #11.  Back on the job piloting space freighters, Phil Dyson has just been paired with a new partner.  Alberto Brezland is a complete rookie when it comes to space flight, and he’s also something else, something Phil can’t quite put his finger on.  Phil dismisses the boy’s oddities as figments of his imagination; it may be the worst mistake he’s ever made. 
"Diplopia" by Sandy Waldron had me about as confused as the main character.  Jed’s world has turned upside down.  One by one, things around him are doubling, then vanishing.  First there are two moons; then there are none.  First there are two cats; then there are none.  The story continues with the things Jed cares the most about slowly vanishing from his life. 
I can’t speak to the plot, since I can’t really claim to understand it, but I can say that the characterization was marvellous.  I didn’t—still don’t—understand what was going on, but I totally empathized with Jed’s confusion, loss, and stark terror.  What would you do if the world was vanishing before your eyes?  How would you react?  I think it speaks to the depth of the theme that I would heartily recommend this story even without being able to understand it. 
"Angels" by Bill Abbott may be a story of divine judgement enacted on a violent and evil town.  Or it may be a tale of alien overseers curbing the lawlessness of a wayward planet.  Or it may be neither.  Or both.  The shepherd has prayed for divine judgement to descend upon the city, but now that it has come, it seems almost more than he can bear. 
Can human beings ever live without becoming corrupted by greed, immorality, and all other vice?  The story asks that question…but it makes no pretense at having an answer. 
Gary Ponzo‘s "Alienable Rights" was one of my favorite stories of the issue.  What might be the results of global warming on the planet, and why might a local alien lobbyist be so interested in keeping the Honorable Senator Benson from voting for the EPA bill up before the Senate?  The aliens promise water for Senator Benson’s home state of Arizona, and with it the undying gratitude of his constituency, at least through the next election cycle.  But what’s in it for them?  
The story had no deep moral core, except, perhaps, never to take an alien at his face value, but it was a fun, humorous read, well worth the time to read it. 
How far will ordinary humans go to stay alive?  And what is the result of months of shipwreck and starvation in the merciless depths of space?  "Essex," by Donnie Clemmons, asks that question, and presents the answer in horrifying detail.  This story of the crew of the Essex, stranded out in space in a life raft with limited rations and even less hope, is a grim look at humanity’s darker side.  

In "Breakdown" by Terofil Alexander Gizelbach, the nameless main character has one chance, one essential job interview, to turn his life and his declining fortunes around.  But when his high-tech, self-powering vehicle breaks down, he’s left stranded on the side of the highway, with nine lanes of 200-kph traffic between himself and help.  As the minutes tick away and his chances of getting to the interview on time diminish, the man becomes increasingly desperate. 
It’s hard to keep interested in this one long enough to make it to the end—there is, after all, only so much you can do with a story about a man broken down on the side of the road—but the startling twist ending makes up for it, if you can make it that far. 
"Such Dreams" by Robert Orme examines the power of a dream to reach out, across time and space, across language and culture and species, and speak to an alien race, in another time and another world. 
Jamie and Nathaniel have been missing for years, presumed dead.  Now they’ve reappeared in a space ship.  They understand the complicated controls and speak the mysterious language.  They don’t remember how they got there, and the pieces of their story don’t fit together properly.  But there can be no question that they are the same children—can there? 
The issue closes with "Selchie" by Amber Morris.  The story of mysterious Selchies, who can be either human or seal, and Sedna, a strange but beautiful girl with only memories of a mother haunted by a secret sorrow, is sometimes overwritten and has an ending that is, unfortunately, patently predictable.  Yet for all that, it manages to be hauntingly beautiful, exploring delicate themes of love and protection.