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“The Man Who Swallowed Mirrors” by Jay Lake and Scott William Carter
“Ceasefire” by John Walters
“Aftermath” by Bruce Holland Rogers
“The Revolution Will Be Fictionalized” by Ian Donnell Arbuckle
“An Examination into the Chinese Made Roman Toga” by Ben Peek
“Full Unit Hookup,” edited by Mark Rudolph (who also did the cover art) and Donna Fugate is subtitled “A Magazine of Exceptional Literature.” Personally, I cringe whenever I read the word, “literature.” The child in me wants to cry out, “But I don’t want literature! I want stories!” But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and review this magazine issue anyway. The poetry and nonfiction articles were humorous and thoughtful. The cover art reminded me of a Rorschach Inkblot test (And no, I’m not telling you what I saw) which left me curious about what sort of psychological environment I had entered.
In “The Man Who Swallowed Mirrors” by Jay Lake
and Scott William Carter
, Morrie Pincalvo has lost his job and his wife. He sees winning on A New You, an I-Vid contest show for Most Unique Person (i.e. those who’ve radically modified their bodies through cosmetics and genetics), as his last chance to make something of his life. Unlike the other “Modi-Bodies,” he has an edge: his digestive system is a glass-processing reactor. He meets his match with Sandra Kinconnor, a woman in a “cat-suit” that is actually her real skin, fur and all. This suspenseful and humorous story has a plot twist that leaves you shocked and laughing. It takes the whole concept of “Reality TV” to the extreme and exposes it for the absurd idiocy that it is, and its negative effect on popular culture. Read it and learn.
What do you get when you have India and Pakistan on the brink of nuclear war, an old man mourning for his deceased wife, and an alien race sending a message to Earth? You get “Ceasefire” by John Walters
. Much like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs
, all the big events are seen from the perspective of one man: in this case an old man named David. By the third page I wondered if the story was going anywhere, but then it picked up just as I was about to quit reading. I usually don’t care much for anti-war stories that give an “easy” answer to end all hostilities through technology (like that’ll ever happen), but this story left the pacifist in me dreaming wistfully. But the real meat of the story is in David and what happens to his family, and that is the part worth reading.
In the short-short “Aftermath” by Bruce Holland Rogers
, an apocalypse is hinted at (with nothing to state its cause), but the focus of the story is on a married couple in their house. Justine is trying to stay cheery, acting as if nothing happened. Howard is miserable and doesn’t want to be alone. Hmm, I think I found the “literature,” but it’s still worthwhile.
In “The Revolution Will Be Fictionalized” by Ian Donnell Arbuckle
, Gregori Egorov and Watta, his chimpanzee assistant, discover a means to artificially fabricate stories on a computer through the use of Pi. A touching story with a twist on the old “Frame Story” technique, it also left me wondering if such a thing is possible. The possibility left me a bit disturbed, for as stated in the story, there is “no such thing as creativity anymore, just discovery.” A near-future scenario that I hope never comes to pass.
“An Examination into the Chinese Made Roman Toga” by Ben Peek starts off by warning you to not trust what is written. While at home, Martin Grook disappears in front of his wife and reappears in the middle of the ocean, only to disappear again five minutes later and end up in London. As he continues to teleport all over the globe and eyewitnesses continue to encounter him, a global social movement is born. This humorous tale leaves you feeling sorry for Martin Grook and thinking about the nature of faith and religion in general. The story is experimentally laid out–the dialogue is not marked by quotation marks and Peek indulges in many of the things you’re told not to do when writing a story, yet he does it in a way that works. But don’t trust what I’ve written here: read the story.