Rendezvous by Wayne Haag
Marielena by Nina Allan
illustrated by Tara Bush
Marielena. My love, my muse, my demon. Since I was forced to leave my country, I am dispossessed of her. Ma-ri-el-ena. I say her name to myself in the dark when I can’t sleep, rolling the syllables around on my tongue like so many dark pearls. Because she is lost to me I see her in everyone. In the financier with her Jimmy Choos and her green Cross briefcase. The foul-mouthed publican, her forearms like an Olympic rower’s, her hair so red it dims the traffic lights – stop, stop, stop. The Pakistani student – Dolce & Gabbana spectacles, black hijab. The child with her dirt-smeared cheek and scabby knees. Marielena taunts me in her manifold guises and then slips away, hiding herself in the shadows. I strain to catch her voice, but all I hear is the noise of traffic and the shouts of youths, kicking a crumpled beer can down the street. Marielena’s absence is my greatest punishment. She sees my desertion as a betrayal, but I had no choice.
A Minute and a Half by Jay O'Connell
illustrated by Daniel Bristow-Bailey
I contemplated the unfinished piece dominating the studio corner of my studio apartment. Six foot two inches of swirling curvilinear blackness speckled with pinprick points of light, like stars.
Still and always unfinished.
Bone Deep by S.L. Nickerson
The world inside of Manaia’s Tattoory is dim. I smell paint, the old-fashioned kind that can still be smelt. Framed watercolours drape from nails driven into the brick walls. I stare longest at the painting of a woman; above her hips she is whole, but her skin blows away from the bones of her legs like dandelion fluff. It makes me glad for my own skin. My skeleton is laced with knobs and scarred by surgeons’ saws, a thing best hidden beneath flesh.
Dark on a Darkling Earth by T.R. Napper
illustrated by Richard Wagner
Mist turns to jade-white ice that scars and wilts the maple trees. I follow the Stomach of the White Tiger, shimmering overhead in a moonless sky, taking me towards the capital on the sea. I carry a dying solar torch in one hand and the pistol in the other. My joints ache from the cold and I’m ten times the age of this sleek young weapon, my hand shaking as I try to hold it horizontal. It would be better if I knew what the buttons did, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I’m going to be shooting anybody.
The Faces Between Us by Julie C. Day
illustrated by Richard Wagner
Drive long enough and you can find anything. Copper-eyed goddesses. Gilded August afternoons. That arid stretch of Oregonian high desert in the southeastern corner of the state. Keep driving and you might catch something even more precious – a path through. Perhaps even a fairy tale ending. That’s what Amber promised me during that long ago summer.
Songs Like Freight Trains by Sam J. Miller
illustrated by Richard Wagner
“I’m worried that a song will never again change my life.”
My husband doesn’t look up from his phone. Windshield wipers flick water away as fast as they can. Autumn, full dark; driving to Albany to our daughter’s first dance performance. He is dressed up, scented, slightly uncomfortable. We rarely wear nice clothes. Three minutes pass before he says “You’re not going to give me any more context?”
Editorial by Jim Steel
Future Interrupted by Jonathan McCalmont
Doctor Johnson's Awesome Mix Tape
As the late American writer David Foster Wallace once pointed out, we are existentially alone on the planet. Trapped inside two and a bit pounds of skull, I cannot feel what you are feeling and you cannot know what I am thinking. Books, at their best, are a bridge constructed across the abyss of human loneliness for it is only by immersing ourselves in the words and thoughts of others that we can escape the cramped confines of our own bedraggled self. If we take Foster Wallace at his word and assume that art should aim to break down the barriers between stranded subjectivities then we need to think about how you are going to relate to me and I to you.
Time Pieces by Nina Allan
Some Roses and Their Phantoms
We moved house this summer. Knowing that our trips to London will be less frequent in future, one of the things I did in the weeks leading up to the move was to pay a visit to the Surrealists at Tate Modern. There are paintings there I’ve known and loved since my early teens, and the artists who created them have been a source of inspiration ever since. One of the works that means most to me is the 1943 painting ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, by Dorothea Tanning. It is an extraordinary, resoundingly fantastical work, both menacing and somehow uplifting, that depicts a confrontation between a young girl and a giant sunflower in a hotel corridor. The girl’s clothes are torn, seeming to suggest that an act of violence has recently occurred, and the sunflower itself seems alive, sentient, its stems and petals simultaneously reaching towards the girl and blocking her path. The Tate also owns Tanning’s later work, ‘Some Roses and their Phantoms’, a surreal still life in which once again flowers seem to have acquired a malign animation.
Ansible Link by David Langford
News and obituaries
Book Zone by Peter Tennant, Jack Deighton, Maureen Kincaid Speller, John Howard, Stephen Theaker, Lawrence Osborn, Paul Graham Raven, Duncan Lunan, Barbara Melville, Ian Hunter, Simon Marshall-Jones, Andy Hedgecock, Ian Sales
Book reviews including The Race by Nina Allan, Twember by Steve Rasnic Tem, The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano, California by Edan Lepucki, The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin, Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene, Green Planets edited by Gerry Canavan & Kim Stanley Robinson, Call and Response by Paul Kincaid, The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction Volume 2 edited by Gordon Van Gelder, Barricade by Jon Wallace, The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory, The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley, The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, Company of Shadows by Paul Gerrard, The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem, A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin
Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe
Cinema releases including Lucy, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Purge: Anarchy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hercules, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, The Anomaly, Earth to Echo, Vampire Academy, The Rover, The Congress, Mood Indigo
Laser Fodder by Tony Lee
DVD and Blu-ray reviews including After the Dark, The Zero Theorem, The Double, Divergent, Last Days on Mars, The Changes, The Boy From Space, Mindscape, Transcendence, Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild, RPG – Real Playing Game, HK: Forbidden Superhero
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