Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, late September

December already!? The year already done? So it would seem from the cover dates on the current issues of the digests, still following the increasingly obsolete newsstand calendar. Used to be, the gravitational pull of these premier magazines pulled the genre along in their wake, but unfortunately this influence is still felt, even while online publication has been following the true calendar year. Pretty soon, with nearly a quarter of the year’s stories still to come, editors will start to select the 2013 Years Best lists. Inevitably, good stories published late in the year will be vulnerable to being overlooked in this process. I think it may be time to realign the stars so that the publishing year ends when it’s over, and not before.

This time, in addition to the usual monthly publications, we have the debut of a new dark fantasy zine: The Dark.

And the Good Story Award to the MacLeod from Asimov’s.


Publications Reviewed


Asimov’s, December 2013

A couple good ones in this issue, most notably the MacLeod story.

“Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” by Henry Lien

Suki, aka Her Grace, Radiant Goddess Princess Suki, is pissed off to death at her parents for sending her to this institution run by evil nuns.

“As we start our first day of lessons at Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters, let us remember the story of young Mei-Ching the Dutiful, who, when her parents were too old and weak to work, chopped all the trees on the mountain where they lived to give them firewood, then cut off her own head to make soup to feed her parents.”

Even more, she is pissed off to death at the girl Doi Liang who actually helps the nuns to cut off the perfection of her hair. All her schemes to have Doi Liang expelled in disgrace, however, are thwarted.

This is fun. The colony is in fact made [or surfaced] with pearl, on which people skate, and all the girls seem to have the sole ambition of joining the Pearl Opera Academy, in which is apparently practiced a mix of blade derby and martial arts. Our narrator Suki may or may not be ungrateful but she certainly is spoiled, with a shaky understanding of her situation that makes her point of view less than reliable.

“Vox Ex Machina” by William Preston

Karen is a flight attendant whose husband has recently taken off. She discovers an electronic android head left behind in an overhead bin and takes it home, where it proves able to speak [thus the title]. The presence of the head and her conversations with it, into which she reads more than is there, propel Karen into an existential crisis.

A lot of the potential interest for SF readers lies in the identity of the famous science fiction author on whom the head was modeled. We are curious, until we realize this is an imaginary person. Otherwise, the story is rather flat, largely because Karen is – flat and passive. One brief moment of amusement happens when her friend attempts to return the head to its creators, an outcome that Karen, given her profession, ought to have anticipated.

“Entangled” by Ian R MacLeod

Not quantum entanglement but a new evolutionary stage in humanity, when a virus has enabled minds to touch one another, tangling them together in community. The entangled get to work with a single purpose and clean up the old dystopian ruins of the individualist industrial age to create their own ideal way of life. Left on the outside is Martha Chauhan, whose brain, damaged in a youthful incident, cannot link with the rest. For the most part, she gets on and has a place with them. Yet “. . . being with other people having fun is one of the loneliest things of all. This day, the whole of whatever is left of her life, looms blank as these steamy, snowwhitened windows.” Then on one day she has a fateful encounter that alters everything.

A poignant view of a life with a tragedy deep at its heart. The author develops two narrative lines, one in Martha’s own voice, reliving her childhood and youth with her loving, compassionate father as he tries to make the best possible life for his children amid the chaos and violence of those pre-entanglement times. This character, whom we only see through his daughter’s recollection, is ultimately the center of the story, a person with incredible depths of love and self-sacrifice. Martha, as we discover, is wounded in more ways than one. A highly moving account.

Aside from this personal center, the impact of the entanglement on human society offers fascinating food for speculation. Martha makes a good observer, being among but not part of the entangled population; she clearly sees the benefits in the reduction or elimination of violence, crime and oppression in consequence of universal empathy. Yet she finds herself repelled by the prevailing fug of excessive togetherness. The entangled society seems to have shifted to a near-subsistence level, communes being formed on the ruins of former institutions. People still speak aloud when necessary; children still attend school. Apparently the transmission of ideas requires this. But it isn’t a high priority. What we call civilization seems mostly of little interest to the entangled. I suspect that much of it will eventually fade away. Readers might well wonder: would this be such a bad thing?


“Dignity” by Jay O’Connell

There are laws against harboring the hopeless. There are a lot of hopeless people because

The goal, Dad said, was replacing the people with drones and bots with the fastest payoff. When Melissa had asked what happened to the people he replaced, her father laughed. Someone smart always figured out how to make a profit with the leftover people, he said. Eventually.

Melissa has been harboring a hopeless orphan in the garden shed. This, says her father, robs the hopeless of dignity, giving them what they haven’t earned. But Melissa likes playing with Lena.

Pretty typical didactic “if this goes on” scenario, commenting on the problem of wealth disparity and privilege. Melissa is a compassionate and clever child, but the conclusion reveals that she still remains trapped within the patterns of privilege. Since the overall tone is humor, the crudely-done scenario matters less than it otherwise would.

“The Fitter” by Timons Esaias

Humor, heavy-handed sort. Miss Douglas, current manager of Randi’s Bustique Boutique, doesn’t like hiring aliens, but Throgmorton’s undeniable ability to attract customers can not be overlooked. Heavy-handed, as I said.

“Bloom” by Gregory Norman Bossert

On the planet Ardun, in the dark, Ben, Ki and Andrea have walked into a Bloom that isn’t supposed to be there. Having nothing else to do but wait for daylight, the three quarrel and blame each other for being there. If they can see where the edge of the Bloom is, they might be able to jump away in time before they are consumed. The tension is high. Any movement, a drop of sweat, could set off the explosion. Ki has been caught once before near a Bloom explosion, the only known human survivor.

“His own blood pressure created the spray. The process is optimized to reduce the subject down as efficiently as possible without losing elements outside the colony. We’ve got high-speed video of local fauna getting caught; it’s beautiful, really.”

This could be the setup for a typical SFnal problem story, in which one or more of the trapped humans will figure out some very clever way to use science to effect their escape from the deadly situation. Instead, it’s a character story, as the pressure of possibly-imminent death reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each of these individuals. The ending does it perfectly.


“Grainers” by R Neube

A scenario used previously by this author: refugees from nuked-out Earth are crowded by the millions into converted grainships, where they circle from one solar settlement to the next, living on grudging charity and desperate larceny. The dual first-person narrators don’t make this one more accessible. First is Handy, a grainer engineer scheming to con a spare Haf’tsk controller out of a naval patrol by claiming emergency. The other is Marquez, a naval technician reluctantly dispatched by her commander to respond to the SOS. Both are, in their own ways, on the make. Both manage to conclude that they got the best of the transaction.

If he hadn’t tried to scam me, I wouldn’t have minded giving him the Haf’. It wasn’t like it was money out of my pocket. Or even tax money. A few years back, customs had confiscated hundreds of them from a smuggler. As far as I was concerned they were freebies.

The setup is pretty opaque at first, but it resolves into a sound mix of dark humor and blackest dystopia.

“Frog Watch” by Nancy Kress

Following her husband’s death in the line of duty as a policeman, Meg falls apart. Then she decides to move to the swamp and do Frog Watch in his memory.

People don’t think cops, especially Georgia cops, have any interests outside of crime, football, beer, and gun dogs. Jason hunted, sure—I have both his .410 shotgun and his .22 in my cabin with me now—but he also liked Wes Anderson movies, jazz, and frogs.

In the swamp she has neighbors, strange neighbors.

Pretty didactic in parts, as the narrator lectures on frogs and extinction. The resolution is positive, celebrating life.


Analog, December 2013

Beginning a 4-par serialization, which always leaves less story room for short fiction. There’s a time-travel theme. The story by Hatch is clearly the best of the shorter fictions.

“The Chorus Line” by Daniel Hatch

The invention of time viewing has resulted in the profession of the fly on the wall, of which the narrator’s partner Arthur Boswell is a noted practitioner who specializes in making videos of 16h-century actors in taverns. He isn’t alone; fanatics, true believers and conspiracy nuts have embraced the technology.

Indian kids from Bangalore were all over the Indus valley looking for the Buddha, but hadn’t found him yet. Guys from New Mexico looked at Roswell in 1947 and found nothing but balloon fragments and balsa wood and a photographer telling his editor that there was nothing there. Someone had gone to Giza to watch the starships land on the Great Pyramid and all he found was that the guy who said the stones were lifted up tunnels built into the pyramid was right—he got some good pictures of the pulleys and rollers and greased shafts that they used.

Then there are less honest flies, such as Eric Cunningham, the narrator’s present target, whose video of ardipithicine hominins dancing in a chorus line has profoundly offended the narrator’s sensibilities; he’s convinced it must be a fake.

A hopeful story about the human species. The narrator witnesses what he believes to be the real beginning of humanity. And it turns out to be one of the good things about the species – convincingly, unlike the chorus line.


“Ian, George, and George” by Paul Levinson

Another in the author’s time-travel series, “Ian’s Ions and Eons”. The narrator is up to something on his trip back to 1970. Ian’s time-travel customers are usually up to something, and Ian usually keeps a step ahead of them. Usually, there is some interest to these thwarted plots, but this time it’s mostly time-travel neepery. Meh.

“The Deer Girl Hitches a Ride” by Sarah Frost

An apocalypse scenario in which a plague is endemic and there are no more deer in Kansas, which is why Sal is startled when the truck almost hits one. Turns out it’s a girl “naked except for a pelt of buckskin fur. Her horns were black and about as long as my hand, each with one spike sticking out forward like a thumb, and one curled back at her head like a crooked finger.” This doesn’t seem to faze Sal very much. But there’s a lot more unusual about the deer girl. Too unusual, in fact. It doesn’t much make a lot of sense.

“Fear Response” by Lesley L Smith

Six is a member of a predatory pack species that has somehow managed to invent spaceflight. His father is a prominent scientist and Six knows that a good score on the science exam is his own only hope, because his skills as a hunter aren’t much, and he admits to himself that he is often afraid.

Such admissions were taboo; fear was forbidden. According to pack decree, we were never frightened; we were always brave and destroyed our prey without mercy. Our pack supposedly dominated all others, but I never felt dominant.

Fear, however, can be survival-positive – a useful lesson.

“Oedipus at the Sperm Bank” by Joel Richards

Nicholas Donnelly is a self-made rich bastard who has cloned himself [at least] twice to provide himself with successors, and also keeps a backup of his own sperm. Daniel and Thomas grew up in different environments that made Daniel more ambitious and ruthless. With Senior away in space, Daniel takes off to pursue his own ventures, leaving Thomas holding the corporate fort and the advances of Senior’s castoff contract wife. Not a lot of point to this one, other than a statement of nature vs nurture and the lesson that rich bastards can’t trust nobody because they haven’t earned it.


The Dark, October 2013

Debuting a new dark fantasy zine. This first issue has four stories of short to medium length, all by female authors. Judging from these, I’d have to say that “The Strange” might be a more fitting title. Uncanny things happen in all these pieces, but only two can be considered dark in any real respect, and only the Hannett has the power to make readers shudder with it.

“The Carpet” by Nnedi Okorafor

Mukoso and Zuma have often visited their relatives in Nigeria but this time, as teenagers, they have come without their parents. In a souvenir shop that one relative warns them against, Zuma buys a carpet that the proprietor seems to want to get rid of. Later, when they come to the house their father has built in his native village, the carpet is the only furnishing in the place, along with huge spiders and other beasties, including a large snake. Alone in the empty house, the girls hear sounds in the night.

Because the carpet was on the stairs. No, it wasn’t just on the stairs, it was creeping up the stairs. It moved like some giant stingray. We stumbled back as it glided by, hovering about an inch or two off the floor as it swam through the air.

Hard to find much scary here. The carpet, while disconcerting in its ways, seems to be pretty useful in eradicating creepies and crawlies. The real problem with the story is that the narrative and the characters are so very dull and flat. If you can’t get a shiver out of a situation with two teen-aged girls alone at night in a haunted house, that’s not good. There is just no tension here, and barely the faintest shade of dark. The final scene, if meant to be disturbing, fails; it’s really kind of funny.

“What Lies at the Edge of a Petal is Love” by Rachel Swirsky

Jack meets Ruth, marries her, brings her home to his isolated house in the country, where she settles in.

. . . she unpacked like a devotee arranging an altar: an assortment of vanilla-scented lotions, deodorants, soaps, moisturizers, scrubs and splashes. Every morning, Jack watched Ruth stand by the pedestal sink in her white silk robe: rubbing, dabbing, spraying, powdering, and anointing. When she emerged, he took her hand and inhaled her from soft wrist to slender shoulders.

When Ruth undergoes a transformation, we don’t know exactly why or what role the house plays in it. Would it have happened eventually, anywhere else? In some cases, such a mutation might be considered as dark material, negative or even horrific, but this is a love story, as the title makes clear, so instead it is rather strange or even wondrous, because Jack’s positive attitude makes it so. The prose only emphasizes this aspect, telling readers it is all too beautiful to fear.

“By My Voice I Shall Be Known” by Angela Slatter

A revenge fantasy. The narrator, a poor seamstress, once loved an ambitious young man and expected to marry him after he had made his fortune. But as Adlai rose in prosperity, so did his views of a proper wife for himself. Yet nervous that his new bride might learn of his past connection, he hired thugs to cut out the narrator’s tongue [clearly she has since learned to write, else how do we have this story?] and throw her in the river. Now, surviving, of course she plots revenge with the aid of the rusalky who lounge on the rocks along the riverbank to lure the unwary.

My finger aches and throbs and drags me back to the fourwalled space with its thin-mattressed brass bed, ancient velvetcovered chaise, stand of drawers, and the single lantern to brighten my nights. I must ignore the pain and get back to my work. To the quilt, the wedding quilt; the wedding quilt that should have been mine.

Darkness here – black magic and betrayal, of which the betrayal is worst. Sympathy for the narrator can only go so far, because we see her not only overwrought with her own suffering but too willing to let the good and innocent suffer in the cause of her revenge. Not very original, although well-detailed.

“Another Mouth” by Lisa L Hannett

Dark, weird, and decidedly icky. A fishing village infested by the sort of goblins euphemistically called “young strangers” who might give a boon if they like your offerings, or might bring catastrophe down on your head for no reason at all. The strangers brought Michael to Maura, it’s not clear how, and certainly a mixed blessing as he seems to be a brute, but the whaling and fishing have recently failed. Worse, the foundling that Michael adopted has drowned, and he has sunk into a catatonic depression. Maura has to spoon into his mouth the food they barely possess and still have something to leave for the strangers. Then one of them comes to their table to feed.

Reaching over, the young stranger pries open Michael’s jaw. With long, long fingers it scrapes sadness off his tastebuds and cheeks, then sucks its digits clean. Michael sags, all his fight lost at sea. His dark gaze drops, his focus once more submerged. He leaves his mouth open for plunder.

The atmosphere here is oppressive, a murk almost palpable – hopelessness, hunger, filth, rot. But within this fog, much is unclear. What does Maura really owe to the strangers? What does she think she will gain by poisoning them? What did the stranger intend to do with them at their table, good or ill? Still, the ultimate image is so shuddersomely strong, it overwhelms a lot of these doubts.


Tor.com, September 2013

Panning through the various excerpts, tie-ins, outtakes, teasers, series installments and other fictions posted on this site, screening out the nuggets of good stuff. This month, the tie-ins greatly outnumber the independent stories, of which I can find only one, and that one the best of the lot: the Bailey. But some good stuff can be found in the tie-ins and series, too, as long as it can be called an actual story.

“The Death of Me” by Jonathan L Howard

Necromancer Johannes Cabal is not an anonymous figure; wherever he goes, he is recognized and loathed.

He would have taken his bicycle, but for the fact that the last time he had left it at the station, he had returned to find its spokes kicked out and its tyres slashed. It appeared that the respect the villagers held for him—”respect” here used as a synonym for “fear”—did not extend to his bicycle.

There are those, however, who can raise fear in Cabal, and on this day, he encounters one.

Part of the author’s dark fantasy series featuring this character in the age of Sherlock Holmes, quite witty and entertaining. Acts of evil are obliquely alluded to, not described in detail. The sort of piece that should make readers want to look out for more of the same.

“A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey

Set in the days of the Dust Bowl. Young Tom Carver has heard rumors of angels from the refugees headed west to California, urging people to join them on the trek. “If you weren’t careful, you could walk yourself right out of your life.” So Tom does, almost without thought. He meets up with a family that grudgingly takes him into their truck, and they drive west.

A story of hope, with well done characters caught in the hopelessness of these times, pushing on because there is no going back and no staying where they are. In such circumstances, a small act of charity can seem threatening.

He saw her ferocity for what it really was: terror at being out here on the road, under the sky, with no roof to call her own. Terror for her family, for the man she loved and the son she’d maybe longed for, only to see it all crumble into dust.


“Thief of War” by Beth Bernobich

Romantic fantasy. The Erythandran Empire, having conquered just about everywhere else, now plans to invade the lands of the north. The elders of Vesterlant have sent their daughters, adepts in magic, to steal the three magical jewels on which the Empire’s military strength depends. Lèna failed, meeting her death; now, as time grows short, it is Arbija’s turn. She journeys to the heart of the Empire and enrolls as a student in the University while she conducts her quest. She takes lodgings with several other students who befriend her.

This is a long work, set within the author’s fantasy world with its unique magic system. While it succeeds in being an independent tale, I find it unrealistically naive. The notion of stealing magical jewels is itself a pretty lame one. Then Arbija penetrates the greatest secret in the magically powerful Empire with an ease I can’t credit, particularly since so many people are aware of her intentions. The Empire has no spies? She also doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that her new friends are vulnerable after association with her. In any normal Evil Empire, they would certainly be put to torture, but the danger doesn’t seem to occur to Arbija. It should be the crux of the story, the ethical conflict between duty and betrayal; instead we have a rather lukewarm love affair.

“Equoid” by Charles Stross

Another piece, a long one, in the author’s ongoing series about “The Laundry”, a secretive agency dedicated to protecting the world from the Nasty Old Ones from beyond spacetime. This time, Bob Howard is sent off to the country, where they have horses and, apparently, unicorns. Which, according to the letters of H P Lovecraft,

are not a suitable topic for romance or fantasy. On the contrary, the adult unicorn is a thing of dire & eldritch horror & I would advise you to pray to your creator that you live to a ripe old age without once encountering such a monstrous creature.

Or Howard’s contact in East Grinstead:

that unicorns are very real indeed, just like great white sharks and Ebola Zaire—and they’re just as much of a joking matter. Napalm, Mr. Howard, napalm and scorched earth: that’s the only language they understand. Sterilize it with fire and nerve gas, then station armed guards.

From which, reader will gather, in case they are unfamiliar with the series, that this is humorous dark fantasy. In fact, the humor lies entirely in the narrative voice, a point the author emphasizes by interleaving it with the excerpts in Lovecraftian prose, in which the author has inserted a scene sufficiently pornographic as to warrant a warning blurb for any readers who can discern what he’s describing through the purple verbiage. Told another way, these same events would certainly be the matter of darkest horror, involving the gruesome deaths of innocents of several species.

There is also political commentary here, in the form of successive official requisition documents for supernatural carnivorous equoid mounts to meet the threats of commies/hippies/soccer hooligans as perceived by the authorities of the moment. It’s enough to make one wonder who’s actually in charge of policy around here – or there, if you are not in Great Britain. But probably over here, as well.


Unlikely Story #6, August 2013

The Journal of Unlikely Entomology has mutated into a more general form encompassing different subjects: this one is titled The Journal of Unlikely Architecture. I have to applaud the decision. The last couple of issues of the bugzine were getting pretty stale, but this new incarnation is fresh and crisp, surreal and weird, highly unlikely indeed.

“Go Through” by Alma Alexander

A metaphor come to life: doors. This fiction is a vision, surreal and symbolic.

Doors that never allow me to pass them by, once I’ve seen them. Once seen, never unseen. Always there. A door ignored will return — again and again and again — until I reach for that key, for that handle, and crack it open. A door that should never have been in my path; a door without which my path would not exist.

There are alternating sections, first-person and third, but the difference is inconsequential since we don’t really know who “I” is, or whether it’s the same “I” every time, or whether “she” is the same as “I” or someone else, but in effect they all are “you” or everyone who might read this, as the message is universal: this is life.

“Three Adventures of Simon Says, the Elder” by Daniel Ausema

Either the playground has grown very much larger or its denizens have become much smaller. Not that it matters very much; this is the world we have. The characters are named for playground games but are otherwise their own persons; most live in clans among the playground equipment but some are solitary. Simon, a trader, has traveled too far into territory he’s not familiar with. He needs help finding his way back home from the Slide to the Jungle Gym where he resides.

A weird tale set in a perilous place, for the playground is beset with dangerous terrain, with terror birds and poison-filled balloons. It is no place for carefree children. The narrator breaks through into direct address of the readers from time to time, underscoring the storyness of this unusual account:

. . . we’ll leave Simon Says there for a time, enjoying a welcome rest. We’ll save the tales of his long-enduring rivalry with the Jump-Rope Rhymer, his travels to the distant Monkey Bars, and even the time he spent a captive of the coyotes for another time.

“The Painted Bones” by Kelly Simmons

Lily is a realtor, and the material values of real estate have always guided her life, including her relationship with her daughter Jamie, currently hostile, as the ties between mothers and teenaged daughters often are. Among other things, Lily despises Jamie’s “white trash” boyfriend Tyler. Then in the middle of one night, Tyler knocks on her door.

A character study. Lily is a person as shallow as the layer of paint on a house. She isn’t just a snob, she’s studied to be one. Her daughter, as everything else in her life, is meant to be a status symbol, for superficial show. I think it’s too late now, however, to ground her.

“The Tower” by Kelly Lagor

Dana’s mother filled up her head with fantasy, in particular tales about a Realm where she could be a princess. It’s not clear whether her mother actually believed this stuff or not, but Dana certainly does. Now that her mother has been killed in a car accident, Dana has built a tower in the backyard so she can go to the Realm and bring her back.

A children’s story, complete with mandatory Lesson.

“The Dross Record” by Matthew Timmins

In a far future when humanity seems to exist in a vast, once-ruined construct, the scribe has no real interest in history but is assigned to it anyway, in consequence of his skill with languages. The object he is meant to study is ancient, a human hipbone inscribed with characters that he deciphers, describing the primitive beliefs of the woman who wrote them long ago.

Irony predominates here. The scribe considers himself an educated modern man, a savant with no use for the superstitious past. He feels contempt for the historical archival department that preserves the ruins almost unaltered. Yet readers, with a different point of view, will see his outlook on the universe to be just as circumscribed as he regards the ancient woman named Dross.

He had once visited the Great Reservoir with a tourist group. As their guide was doling out his facts (“The Great Reservoir is the largest room in the known universe.”) one of the other men in the group had burst into tears. “The walls,” he had cried, “where are the walls!” As the group was comforting the man, the scribe had stared across the flat surface of the water stretching away into the darkness and had felt, as he never had before, the unimaginable weight of the universe above him.

Yet we would do well not to feel too superior to the scribe, or regard our own cosmological beliefs as infallible.

“The Latest Incarnation of Secondhand Johnny” by Mark Rigney

At the Red Lion, where all the regulars are heavy smokers, the fumes have coalesced into a presence who has quickly become the heart of the place.

Dependable as clockwork, it took only a few lit cigarettes on any given night to coax him out of the ether and into a seat, and once there, he could regale the assemblage for hours with tales of hobos and wine, broken hearts and crossed lovers, coal mine disasters and endless voyages on bottle-green seas.

But now the local government has passed a no-smoking ordinance, and everyone is afraid that it will mean the end of Johnny.

Of all the stories here, the architecture plays the slightest role, yet I find myself deciding that doesn’t matter. The scenario is inspired and worked-out well. Johnny himself works out his own salvation, and it turns out fantastically well.



Mythic Delirium, 0.2 Oct-Dec 2013

The second preliminary issue of the new version of this zine, now incorporating prose fiction along with the verse. The verse still predominates, and the stories aren’t particularly mythic. There is a theme, in the prose at least, of self-destruction.

“The Art of Flying” by Georgina Bruce

Maggie flies at night, which brings her more worry than joy, although the experience seems joyful while it lasts. Only afterwards comes the worry. She is convinced she is dying.

Maybe she sleep walked, hit her head, was concussed, amnesiac. An epileptic seizure. Perhaps her cancer has come back, has spread to her brain. A myriad explanations present themselves for judgment, but none of them convince her. Perhaps it is a gift from God.

This might just as well be called “the art of dying”, since it’s the only thing that seems to make Maggie happy, give her hope. A moving but depressing work, in which Maggie can’t seem to accept the positive things in her life: family, friends, a clean bill of health from the cancer doctor.

“The Two Annies of Windale Road” by Patty Templeton

Two old women share the common delusion that they are Annie Oakley. They also share disgust for the growing gaps in their memories, caused by progressive dementia. The solution is at hand. This one takes a positive attitude towards the problem. I like the way the old women take charge.

“Flap” by David Sklar

Heather and Tiffany seem to be fairies with moth wings. Heather has had hers tattooed, and Tiffany wants to do it, too. She learns that with power come trade-offs. These are immature, uninteresting people; perhaps this is the trade-off for immortality.

Lois Tilton is reading original short SF and fantasy fiction. Editors can send electronic files of magazines and original anthologies to: loist a*t sff.net

For print materials, please query me by email for the address.

For an index of Magazine Issue reviews posted on Locus Online, including Lois Tilton’s, see Index to Magazine Reviews.

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