A few stories really stuck out for me, making me think about them long after I'd moved on to the next. "Illuminated" by KJ Parker had an unlovable initial narrator, mostly thanks to his sexism, but the ideas and thematic elements made me keep coming back to it. Similarly, "Angel Air" by Jacob A Boyd had a fairly unlikeable narrator but was surprisingly memorable and I think could be incorporated into a longer story/novel with the same setting. I couldn't help but like "Attack of the Killer Space Lizards" by Tom Holt. It was humorous (as one would expect from Tom Holt) and, well, spoilers. The final story in this issue, "First They Came..." by Deborah Kalin was surprisingly powerful. After a mix of serious and silly stories, I first expected it to be of the latter variety, but wow. I know which future Twelve Planet collection I'm most looking forward to now.
Some words on each of the stories. (I'm afraid I skipped the three poems — and other features — due to not being able to summon much of an opinion on them.)
“Mick’s Suit” by T A Robinson — A quick and amusing tale about talking clothes.
"Attack of the Killer Space Lizards" by Tom Holt — a serial in four parts
A humorous and entertaining story about colour-centric aliens who discover a copy of everyone's favourite trans-galactic magazine. A fun and somewhat meta read that had me clicking the links to the next instalments later on in the magazine.
"Angel Air" by Jacob A Boyd
A longer story about a lighthouse keeper in a port town dependent on him to guide ships safely through the port's shifting sands. I didn't enjoy it at first because of the main character's harshness (bordering on abuse) towards his apprentice. Mostly it bothered me that he didn't particularly realise what he was doing. But it redeemed itself with the ending.
"The New House" by Kate Rowe — A nice, gentle story about houses that spring up naturally and grow.
"Hammer Fall" by John Birmingham. Opening of his novel Stalin's Hammer. Not bad per se, but not sure that I'd keep reading; I'm not generally a fan of non-Russians writing about Russians. Quite enough damage has been done by Hollywood etc already. Not to mention that Stalin as the point of view character is inherently a bit discomforting.
"The Wrong Righters: Zero G" by Simon Messingham — an amusing and rather meta deconstruction of the science fiction genre and its physically inaccurate tropes. Thumbs its nose at the laws of physics for being too boring. One of my favourite stories.
"Cullsman #9" by Michael John Grist. A story of an apocalypse that sustained life. I liked it, though it wasn't the cheeriest of tales.
"Paint By Numbers" by Dan Rabarts. Robot creates art and, later, a relationship without understanding how or why it works. Observes the effects. A strong, sad story.
"Illuminated" by KJ Parker. A particularly well-written story about magic, books and writing. It explores the nature of how information is passed on with the written word and the relationship between the writer and the reader. I enjoyed it a lot.
"Soul Blossom" by Lisa A Koosis. A story about love and holding on too tight.
"Eternal Flame" by Stephen Gallagher. A story about a man who made a wish and got more than he bargained for. Not quite in the standard way either.
"Ashfield" by Agatha Christie
An excerpt from An Autobiography, in which the author reminisces of a house no more. A somewhat surprising inclusion.
"First They Came..." By Deborah Kalin. A really beautiful story that subverts expectation in unexpected ways. It started as a tale of a Melbourne in which shyness had been classed a disease, but it ended as so much more. A couple of choice quotes:
in ridding the world of silence, half the world has been silenced.and
there is a sharp difference between the freedom to be silent, and the silence that condemns freedoms to perish.A strong end to the issue.
Series: Sort of — it's a magazine.
Format read: ePub on my iThings
Source: copy courtesy of the ASIM collective (for review purposes)
Challenges: two of the stories qualify as being part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge — "First They Came" by Deborah Kalin and "The New House" by Kate Rowe. Additionally, several stories fall into the Aussie SF and Horror challenges I'm doing, but for progress-counting purposes I'm only including novellas or longer.