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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Fortean Bureau, #29, March 2005

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“Stitching Time” by Stephanie Burgis
“Daniel Dreams” by E. Sedia
“Building a Taller Chair” by Leah Bobet
“Five Ways Jane Austen Never Died” by Samantha Henderson

An interesting e-zine, The Fortean Bureau publishes fiction on a quarterly basis “of a Fortean nature” (in reference to Charles Fort, an early 20th century paranormalist).  They prefer “strange, weird, and unusual speculative fiction,” and boy, do they deliver!  Make sure you bookmark their site.

“Stitching Time” by Stephanie Burgis
The imagery in this story is evocative and sharp, and successfully portrays the horror of the Victorian asylum.  It’s easy to imagine two snowed in, mail-order brides going mad from cabin fever.  With a discrete dash of the supernatural, this is a masterful work.  It’s not a surprise that it’s by a Clarion West alumni.

“Daniel Dreams” by E. Sedia
This story is incongruous to the e-zine, only loosely fitting the theme of the site.  It’s a blend of Dan Brown and The Exorcist, not bad but certainly not original.  The plot is buried under mountains of extraneous narrative and pointless detail.  Stereotypical cipher characters do nothing for this work, such as a lunch lady named Doris, and we get a blow by blow description of the protagonist’s breakfast.

Propelled by Dickensian coincidences, the story wholly failed to suspend my disbelief.  Great chunks of it could and should be cut out, and will only improve the story.  Dan Brown is best left to Dan Brown.

“Building a Taller Chair” by Leah Bobet
This story is in true Fortean style.  A crazy, sweeping narrative, which takes a slight dip into the slipstream. Yet for all its weirdness, the setting is plausible, if only due to the believability of the characters and their society.  A nice job.

“Five Ways Jane Austen Never Died” by Samantha Henderson
This is simply delightful and brilliant.  The title alone deserves an award of some sort, and indeed, sums up the story.  The reader is given five quirky vignettes, each resulting in the death of one Jane Austen.  Time travelers, child-birth, a statuette straight from a Lovecraft tale, it’s all here.  Easily the best story in this issue.