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

Clarkesworld, July 2007

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The July, 2007, Clarkesworld magazine opens with Cat Rambo’s story, “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones, the Manticore Said.” It tells of a couple who travel with a circus and their trained beast, a manticore. As they travel through a wood, their wagon breaks down, and the husband must go for help. The protagonist, Tara, is left by herself, and when an unexpected threat arrives, she receives help from a mysterious stranger with an agenda of her own. While interesting in places, this story was a little long, with a lengthy backstory inserted unnecessarily in the middle and no real emotional through-line to drive the piece. The mysterious stranger adds a level of suspense, but I never felt truly gripped by the piece.

Darren Speegle’s “Transtexting Pose” starts off interestingly enough, with a man greeting three oddly intelligent girls selling artwork at his door. He buys a piece and then is seemingly transported into the strange, dreamlike world of the art. Sections of seeming stream-of-consciousness action are transposed with a mysterious interrogation. I should state a bias here: I find people relating their dreams to be one of the most boring things on earth. There are exceptions, but for a dreamlike piece to work, it has to also engage with something emotional or intellectual to go beyond the “isn’t this weird,” to get to some kind of internal narrative. This story seemed to be hinting at some kind of intellectual engagement with art, but the meaning never emerged for me, and I didn’t find the dreamlike sequences captivating or amusing enough to sustain my interest in the meantime.

Not the best issue of Clarkesworld, but they were probably due a bad month. Roll on August!