01/04/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: PS Publishing. 146 page paperback. Price: £ 6.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-184863-018-5.
With the highly anticipated first quarterly anthology, 'Postscripts #18' due out this month, I thought it high time I reviewed the last issue of the magazine 'Postscripts #17'. While the gorgeous illustration of a Cthulhu chasing down Santa Claus on the cover by Edward Miller is sure to attract attention, the stories collected within are highly varied and imminently readable. Of course, with any short story collection there are a few standouts.
A couple months ago I was introduced to Douglas Smith by way of his collected short stories (also by PS Publishing), 'PS Showcase #5: Impossibilia'. So I was looking forward to his story 'Doorways' and was not disappointed. After the death of his superior, Jack is summoned by the powers that be at GenTech to figure out the puzzle of the late Rainer's legacy. His house, which also contains the laboratory for his final and what is rumoured to be his greatest work. The puzzles reveal not only the secrets of Rainer's work, but also some secrets pertinent to Jack's life. This story has a cunningly satisfying conclusion.
I find a good short story falls into two categories: There is the complete story, the novel miniaturised, which is a nearly perfect art form. These are hard to capture but constantly illustrated by such writers as Douglas Smith. Then there is the glimpse - short stories that briefly illustrate an idea that could become so much greater than themselves. These stories can re-visit beloved universes or travel to those we want to see again.
'A Prison Term Of A Thousand Years' by Adam Roberts is just such a story. Between prison terms of just over a thousand years (no, the title is not figurative) you are given glimpses of not only how the world changes in a thousand years, but how it can remain the same. By the second term of a thousand years, you figure out what he's being imprisoned for.
All the stories in this collection piqued my interest in some way. It is always hard to pick only a few to discuss in any anthology review. My third and final selection here will be 'Rain Flower Pebbles' by Mary Youman.
As the author was unfamiliar to me, I started this story with no expectations and was quickly swept up in the narrative. A chest of rain flower pebbles from great, great grandfather arrives accompanied by what might be a box of spirits. Obscure and beautiful, imbued with a history that may be more fairytale than truth, these pebbles fire the imagination of the household. Kids can make their own rituals and so long as they believe it will work, it will. This story left me nostalgic for the summers of my own childhood.
So as I lay this issue aside with a satisfied sigh, I have only a few days to wait for the new quarterly anthology. See, procrastination isn't always such a bad thing...
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA