Matthew Kressel’s story unfolds slowly like an intricate puzzle. There is a beautiful, dreamlike quality to this tale of the far future, where the vast All-Seeing Eye consumes stars and knowledge and finds a problem it can’t quite solve. The dark undertones emerge gradually. A whole universe is unveiled through only three characters. For me this was the highlight of the issue.
Maggie Clark tells the story of Mouse, a young appraiser in love with his boss, who can travel through time, and brings back items in an attempt to impress Ezra. This is a different sort of time travel story, more a character piece. The time travel is largely unexplained, and almost incidental to the exploration of the characters, or more specifically, of Mouse. Enjoyable and filled with just the sort of period detail and references that I enjoy.
I collect titles, especially odd or off kilter ones. E. Catherine Tobler’s “Migratory Patterns of Underground Birds” has exactly the sort of title that would peek my interest. The story itself is a dreamlike post-apocalyptic fable following one woman’s trek towards the sea. There is a sense of vast depth and unanswered questions that give it its power.
Howard Waldrop’s story of a small town in Pachuco County is essentially a western version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. No names are named, but it seems to take place largely concurrently with the events of the novel. It’s a fun little twist on the old idea. Cowboys and Aliens done right.
Andy Duncan’s story of an African American blues player in hell is filled with folklore and period detail. This version of hell is a plantation and John and his music bring unexpected hope.