A Review of Mongrels: A Novel, by Stephen Graham Jones

Review by Paul StJohn Mackintosh

A Howling Good Time

I reviewed Stephen Graham Jones’s Mapping the Interior here recently, and I’m glad to report that Mongrels: A Novel is very different. It also deserves every accolade it’s received. Mongrels won a slew of best novel nominations, including for the 2016 Shirley Jackson Award and Bram Stoker Award. In contrast to Mapping the Interior, though, Jones’s Blackfeet origins don’t emerge at all into the story – at least explicitly. If they’re there, they’re like werewolf hair – under the skin of the story. Read more »

Arkteia, fiction by Genevieve Williams

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Iphigenia had been Agamemnon’s daughter, sacrificed to and, some said, rescued by the goddess, taken to Greece and set to preside over the rituals there.

Iphigenia, the name Kate had chosen.

THE MAGLEV TRAIN accelerated away eastward, following the route that had once been State Highway 20. Caleb stood on the platform and let the silence descend in its wake. Even the ambient grew quieter here, far from the torrential noise of Seattle. The town of Kulshan was a thumbprint in the wilderness, beneath the shadow of the volcano that was the reason for its existence, or more precisely, the geothermal plant fueled by the volcano’s heat. Nestled in a bend of the Skagit River, surrounded by forest on all sides, Kulshan’s concrete wall stood like a dam against an encroaching green tide.

After a few minutes, Caleb shouldered his pack and walked down the stairs. The gate, the one through which the few visitors to Kulshan’s backcountry exited the town, was just a couple of blocks from the platform. The people he passed on the street gave him curious looks, but none spoke to him. A glance into the ambient was enough to reveal that he was here to find out whether their geothermal plant, wiped out by a landslide the week before, could be recovered. Read more »

A Review of Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World and Other Stories, by Caroline M.Yoachim

 

Review by William Grabowski

She was not a ship at all; she was the ocean, deep and vast, with a form forever changing in waves of green and blue.

I’ve been fortunate these past weeks to receive books by authors mostly new to me—including Caroline M. Yoachim‘s debut collection. As much as Weird Fiction has evolved since roughly the late 90s, Science Fiction, in the hands of writers like Yoachim, has responded even more radically to the times.

Beyond the stories’ obvious value, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World is precisely the collection for readers not wholly invested in the “gosh-wow” factor that drives most—but not all—technologically oriented novels and short fiction. This is not to say Yoachim’s work displays no interest in exploring technology’s indelible role in speculative futures—it does. But the carefully figured science and engineering are embedded, favoring characterizations and storytelling. By embedded, I mean it isn’t necessary to comprehend—second by second—exactly how your coffee-maker’s circuitry operates during the brewing cyle in order to reap its benefits. You already know the machine’s function, so can focus on other matters. Read more »

Spellman Mathers’ Travelling Show & Zoo of Ordinary Creatures, fiction by Edoardo Albert

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“Sure, back in England Tom would be the wonder of the age and we’d—he’d—be rich and meeting royalty and such like. But what’s a man with a donkey head in a place where wishes come true?”

Scene from “A Midsummer Nights Dream. Titania and Bottom” by Edwin Landseer, 1851. Image courtesy of Google Art Project.

SPELLMAN MATHERS’ TRAVELING Show & Zoo of Ordinary Creatures was shut up for the night. Tasks completed, Spellman kicked back a chair, lit a smoke and, hands behind his head, stared up at the sky. He breathed out, wreathing the stars with smoke, then, holding the cigarette between thumb and forefinger while inspecting its glowing core, said, “I was like you once, kid.”

In his hiding place, in the deep dark beneath the bales of animal feed, Sadhu, his skin as brown as a nut and his eyes black as the sky, all but cried out. Spellman couldn’t have seen him. Couldn’t have! In the hiding place, dark and deep, he was invisible so long as he did not move and made no sound.

“I had no home, no folks. I snuck into the circus one night, and when the circus left town, I went right along with it.” Apparently satisfied with the cigarette, Spellman drew on it again, then breathed the smoke out, and it billowed and writhed until it became a little smoke boy, hiding behind a cage while peeping out fearfully at a frightening world.

“But that was back then, when I were little, and the world’s moved on. The circus ain’t the right place for a youngster to be growing up no more.”

The smoke boy dissolved slowly away. Sadhu, deep in the dark place, moved only his eyes. He was not coming out. Read more »

A Review of She Said Destroy, by Nadia Bulkin

Review by Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Destroying Your Certainty

Nadia Bulkin’s debut collection comes roaring out of the gate with one of the strongest titles of the year. As far as I know, the title is nothing to do with Marguerite Duras’s Destroy, She Said. Nor, fortunately, is it anything to do with the song by Death in June. But it does demonstrate a gift for titles also evident in the 13 stories in the collection. All of the stories but one have appeared in other publications, but given their quality, that’s no surprise. Quite a few of those appearances are in “Year’s Best” anthologies – again, no surprise. Three of the stories were nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. And that title immediately gives you some idea of why. Read more »

Announcing the Winner of the 2016 New Voices Contest, Benjamin C. Jenkins

We are pleased to introduce the winner of the 2016 New Voices Contest, Benjamin C. Jenkins. What follows is a short essay by Ben, about writing about his winning story, “Headdressing,” and his perspective as a Native American writer. 

 

I didn’t set out to write “Headdressing” with any Native American elements in mind, but somehow they found their way into the story. While I am a card-carrying, tribal member of the Choctaw Nation, I never grew up on the reservation. I wasn’t a member of any tribal clubs during school, and didn’t even attend a pow-wow until I was in my thirties. None of these were conscious decisions, it was just something that was part of my life—and not part of my life.

My grandfather, Jesse, had all of those experiences. He was sent away to a boarding school. He was told not to speak his language. He must have experienced prejudice, but he never talked about it—at least not to me.. Whether his silence was out of some sort of shame, or because he wanted to protect his children from the experiences he endured, I’ll never know. Regardless, by not talking about it, his kids and his grandkids lost an immediate connection to their own story. Read more »

Announcing Release of See the Elephant, Issue 3: Slipping Through the Cracks

 

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See the Elephant, Issue 3: Slipping Through the Cracks explores what it means to slip through a crack, intentionally or not, into oblivion or freedom; how it feels to be threatened by some terrible, broken thing, or to break ourselves. These stories range from the darkest impulses of human (and inhuman) nature, to humor, love, and the possibility of change that can come when we dare to look at broken things in a new way, and painstakingly fuse the pieces back together with some finer stuff.

New stories by Genevieve Williams, Michaele Jordan, Mathew Scaletta & Rebecca Brewster, Kyle E. Miller, Edoardo Albert, Rachel Verkade, Rose Szabo, S. Kay Nash, and Matthew Sanborn Smith, and reprints by H. V. Chao and Marleen S. Barr, and a foreword by editor Melanie Lamaga.

Available in ebook and paperback. 115 pp.

Review copies available in mobi, epub, or PDF formats by request from editors (at) metaphysicalcircus.com.

Buy it here!