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

Paradox, #3, Autumn 2003

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"Escape Hatch" by Brenda W. Clough
"And Yet It Moves" by Kenneth B. Chiacchia
"The Fighters" by Steve Vance
"Perhaps a Goddess" by Colin P. Davies
"The Harp That Sang" by Jennifer Barlow
"The Savage Infant" by Sarah Prineas
"Wings" by Sarah A. Hoyt

ImageWhen famous people are in proximity to each other prior to their fame, there seems to be a desire for them to have met, even when such a meeting demonstrably did not happen. Brenda W. Clough postulates such a meeting between C.S. Lewis, James Joyce, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the muddy fields near the Somme in World War I in "Escape Hatch." The power of the story comes less from what Clough describes as it does from the reader's knowledge of what the future holds for the three men and the possibility that in Clough's version of reality this formed a crux which provided the world with Narnia, Middle Earth and Ulysses.

"And Yet It Moves" is a reasonably straight-forward historical story by Kenneth B. Chiacchia about a Vatican attorney involved in the prosecution of Galileo Galilei over the book Dialogue of the Two Chief World Systems. Nicolo, the lawyer, is presented as an intelligent man who understands politics and his own business, and yet he, along with the rest of the churchmen depicted, come off as hypocritical as they recognize the correctness of Galileo's arguments, yet refuse to respect them because of their obstinate adherence to the traditions of the Church.

"The Fighters" by Steve Vance presents a time travel story focusing on the history of the first third of twentieth century boxing. While the story could have been more tightly constructed, with less background detail about Jack Dempsey, overall it works, especially the machinations of Pola Clarke, the time traveler from 2020, and Bobby O'Malley, the young boxer who is set to become a possible heavy weight champ after his life is saved by the time travelers. The story could have been stronger if Vance had elected to continue the story a little further to show whether the story's ultimate change really altered history and if so, how.

"Perhaps a Goddess" is an examination by Colin P. Davies of the role an ancient goddess, in this case the Sumerian goddess Inanna, finds for herself in modern society. Accustomed to her long established method of dealing with her immortality in a mortal world, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Inanna finds herself facing technological advances that make her question her own methodology. While the underlying message of the story is intriguing, the relationship Davies portrays between Inanna and her latest paramour, Robert, never rings true, and there is no connection, certainly not one as strong as Davies claims.

Jennifer Barlow uses "The Harp That Sang" to tell a fairy tale. As with most fairy tales, the characters are not particularly well developed and the incidents describes require a vast suspension of disbelief. The story of a harper who is forced to search for music wherever he can is reasonably predictable, especially given the constraints of the fairy tale form; however, Barlow does manage to incorporate a couple of twists which make the story more interesting.

"The Savage Infant" is an epistolary tale by Sarah Prineas set in England during the final days of the reign of Queen Anne and the first days of her successor. Prineas creates a world similar to our own except for the existence of an outlawed magic, which lay behind the disappearance of Queen Anne's only surviving heir and, with the queen about to die, the possibility that magic will re-enter the world. The world revealed by the letters is tantalizingly close to our own, but different, and Prineas fails to explain where the difference arose; however, the story works quite well as the characters and history of the correspondents is revealed.

"Wings" is Sarah A. Hoyt's tale of Kimon, a Greek sculptor, who yearns for death after receiving payment for a statue of Zeus. Based on mythology, as is Davies's "Perhaps a Goddess," the story also has much in common with Barlow's "The Harp That Sang" in Hoyt's representation of Kimon as an artisan who can not practice his art. Hoyt's story has a sense of hope, although it is a clich├ęd hope. Kimon finds his answer in the discovery of one who, like himself, has been wounded for his art and can no longer practice.