“Song of the Universe” by Terofil Alexander Gizelbach
“Gram’s Gift” by Steve Goble
“The Darwin Affair” by Brian C. Petroziello
“The Call of Mother Earth” by Jonathan Ruland
“Two Ravens” by Michael Turner
“Wind Songs” by Paul Turnberg
“Death Marks” by Sean T.M. Stiennon
“In Those Days” by Edward Knight
“The Price of Gold” by Robert Mancebo
“Ascension” by Nathan Meyer
The cover of this issue’s Amazing Journeys Magazine, edited by Edward Knight and Donnie Clemons, features an alien landscape in which hovers the triangular ships commonly sited by UFO eye-witnesses: an image strange and otherworldly yet feels somehow familiar. And the stories in this issue share the same feel as the cover.
With the movie, I, Robot, along with hundreds of movies, books, and other artistic mediums featuring robots; some may feel that “robot stories” have become cliché. I thought so too until I read “Song of the Universe” by Terofil Alexander Gizelbach. Jack Staminski—CEO of Robotics, Inc—recruits Dr. Gillian Anderson, a brilliant Neuroengineer, to prove that robots can have human-like emotions and consciousness. And she has to do so before the “Ant-moderns” (a fundamental anti-technology movement) place Foster in power. The plan: to teach R-45 to play piano in the hope that eventually he will learn to compose his own music, then set up a concert on Pluto—the farthest place from Earth and the “Antimod” political base. But with the election of President Foster, the Antimods are determined to prevent Jack’s plan. This suspenseful story takes a good look at the ugly side of politics, and shows the importance of art (in this case, music) in Humanity’s social conditioning. Gizelbach shows a spiritual philosophy to the question of consciousness and the soul, and the meaning of these two words. This story almost brought tears to this jaded reader’s eyes and is a very worthwhile read.
In “Gram’s Gift” by Steve Goble, Sagra, former apprentice to the witch, Gram, is hunting a demon that is terrorizing the villages she has sworn to protect. She encounters one of the Faceless Sons, a trio of hunters who hunt the demons their father unleashed a decade ago. Together, he and Sagra face a demon of terrible might. Goble’s story shows where true magic lies: not in baubles or words, but in human courage. A good read with a worthy message.
In “The Darwin Affair” by Brian C. Petroziello, Frank Day is the captain of the science vessel, Darwin. In an empty part of space, they discover a star that seems to have appeared out of nowhere, then a planet, then a moon. They witness a planetary evolutionary process that takes days instead of millions of years. Is an alien race terraforming the planet? If so, then how, and who? While the story does not have too surprising of an ending, I still found it a pleasant read. Besides, any story that pokes fun at Darwinism is a story worth reading.
In “The Call of Mother Earth” by Jonathan Ruland, Earth loses contact with their first colony ship while it’s nearly a light-year away from the sun. Louis, who had worked on the project for 13 years, is transferred to Titan with his wife, Christy, to build a new colony ship. Seth, their son, wants to go on the ship, but Louis worries that a similar disaster might happen. This story about family, coping with tragedy, and overcoming fear explores the connection between Earth and humanity. The story dragged somewhat for me, but Ruland’s flowing exposition will still keep you reading all the way to its bittersweet ending.
“Two Ravens” by Michael Turner made me chuckle. What can I say? I find macabre humor enjoyable. Sir Caedwyr suffers a mortal wound in battle and encounters two talking ravens. As they wait for him to die, so they can feast, he and the ravens engage in a conversation. Turner’s “bird’s-eye” view of life and death and how they interact is both humorous and enlightening.
In “Wind Songs” by Paul Turnberg, Rebura, the last of the Druids, seeks to stop the Romans from entering her woods, for their presence threatens to destroy the enchantments of her home. This story is filled with “cat-and-mouse” style action and ends with a twist you don’t expect but seems fitting. I found this to be an enjoyable read.
Shabak, the kabrik, gets a visitor to his cave in “Death Marks” by Sean T. M. Stiennon. An axe-wielding assassin named Vingol has come to kill him. The contrasts between the wise sage and the hired killer are handled well right along with their similarities, in a manner that keeps the action flowing at a natural pace. Shabak’s generosity and hospitality is matched only by his preparedness and skill in battle. A complex character indeed, and one worthy of the term role-model, Stiennon’s tale is not your average “duel story.”
Normally, editors don’t print their stories in their own magazines, but Edward Knight presents “In those Days” with a note that he is only doing so at the request of his subscribers. Red, an aged veteran of the Gryphon Wars, walks the routes he once walked while remembering the battles long ago fought and friends lost. While in the old watchtower, now decayed from disuse, he encounters an old gryphon. The story is mostly about the musings of the last two surviving veterans of a war, each one on the opposite side, sharing their different perspectives, and finding similarities. Knight’s tale had this reader thinking about our Greatest Generation, the WWII vets who are dying off now. These heroes who look upon our generation and see how much we have forgotten and how soft we’ve become (which is paralleled in Knight’s tale), and who went through their own hells in the hope we would never have to do the same. If good fiction is meant to reveal truths that facts alone cannot express, then this is good fiction.
In “The Price of Gold” by Robert Mancebo, Captain Hernand Perez and his crew of illegal smugglers spot a life raft with only one passenger: a mysterious blind woman named Lu. Soon, they learn that she has secrets of her own. I enjoyed this story immensely. It was well told with a great a plot twist. While the “moral” of the story can be summed up as “people aren’t always what they appear to be,” it is entertaining, nevertheless. Mancebo writes in a clear, concise manner that keeps the story flowing from beginning to end.
“Ascension” by Nathan Meyer reminds me of what I love about the chivalric Arthurian tales. Prince Conn Morrison, in exile, receives a message from his estranged clan, telling him his father is dead and to come home. But his half-brother, Garret, Prince-Regent of Dwyer Deep, plots to remove Conn, the true heir. A story filled with duels and treachery, the plot twists and turns like a viper to end at an unforeseen conclusion. Meyer’s tale left this reader quite impressed.