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

Galaxy's Edge #39, July/August 2019

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Galaxy’s Edge #39, July/August 2019

The Walking Man” by Lou J. Berger

Unicorns on All Street, Fairies in the Coffee Shop” by Shawn Proctor
Civil Disobedience” by Joe Haldeman (reprint, not reviewed)
The Melody Lingers” by Christopher L. Bennett
This is Killing Me” by Floris M. Kleijne
Little (Green) Women” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (reprint, not reviewed)
Comfort Food” by R.D. Harris
Doomsday in Springtime” by Eleanor R. Wood
Let a Thousand Poppies Bloom” by Rick Norwood
Always True to Thee, In My Fashion” by Nancy Kress (reprint, not reviewed)
What the Plague Did to Us” by Auston Habershaw
An Infinite Number of Idiots” by Robert Jeschonek
Twenty Thousand Years Under the Sea” by Kevin J. Anderson (reprint, not reviewed)

Reviewed by Tara Grímravn

The Walking Man” by Lou J. Berger

A group gathers in a saloon in Utah, discussing the events that led up to the death of a universally-disliked gold miner named Davey Heep after a gold automaton passes through town carrying his desiccated corpse. Suspicion for the miner’s death falls squarely on Quincy, who’d been working that claim when Davey arrived and usurped it after killing Nick, Quincy’s partner.

I quite enjoyed this Steampunk story with an Old West flair. It is engaging, the pacing is well done, and it holds one’s interest as the details of Davey’s death unfolds. I did wonder, though, why the marshal, who had no idea what the Walking Man was or who it carried, suddenly knew that the prospector had been shot in the back or suspected that Quincy had had any association with the dead man. He hadn’t yet been given any details beyond Davey being “the meanest cur that ever came to Dry Gulch” and had arrived from Chicago on a dirigible. That being said, though, it was a good read.

Unicorns on All Street, Fairies in the Coffee Shop” by Shawn Proctor

An unnamed narrator witnesses a woman stealing the letter “W” from the Wall Street sign. The next morning, fantastical creatures of all kinds swarm everywhere—fairies visit coffee shops while a minotaur enjoys local artwork and dragons roam the streets. But for how long?

Proctor’s story is an interesting allegory on why we need to take a little time out of our busy modern lives to smell the roses.

The Melody Lingers” by Christopher L. Bennett

Jeran is a musician with a very special talent. From dolphins, he has learned to use song to shape music into a physical form and he has every intention of using that skill to bring his late wife, Tikeji, back to life. Doing so, however, requires an immense amount of energy—energy he’s stealing from his audiences with disastrous consequences—and, with each performance, she becomes more real. The only question is whether it’s actually Tikeji.

When I first started reading this story, I wasn’t quite sure where it was going. I was pleasantly surprised, however. It’s often difficult to present a well-developed character arc in a short story but Bennett has done that here with Jeran, who enters the story completely unconcerned with anything other than his personal desires but changes dramatically as the narrative progresses. The blending of several recognizable elements of the life of real-world rock stars with an obvious fantasy setting was also a nice touch.

This is Killing Me” by Floris M. Kleijne

Alone in his bathroom, Mansour has every intention of taking his life. He’s even bought a legal suicide pill to help him part ways with his mortal coil. This isn’t the quiet sink into oblivion that he’d anticipated, however, especially with a “kill pill” that keeps trying to talk him out of it.

Kleijne’s story tackles a difficult topic but does a good job of reminding readers that sometimes a small thing can make a world of difference in someone’s life.

Comfort Food” by R.D. Harris

Dubya is an android working in a seafood restaurant in North Carolina. Curious as to why humans often eat unhealthy food, his boss gives him a lesson in comfort food.

While not a new idea in and of itself, the notion of androids trying to work out the often confusing and contradictory nature of human behavior always provides fascinating avenues for exploration. Harris’ story is no exception, even though it’s rather short at just 735 words. At some point in the future, something as simple as a preference for unhealthy foods due to the meaning and memories we associate with them might indeed present an intriguing puzzle for a creature of artificial intelligence, just as it does for Dubya.

Doomsday in Springtime” by Eleanor R. Wood

A young man is in love with a girl who exists elsewhere, someplace apart from his world. He frequently watches the story of her life and connects with her in a very real way, first as an imaginary friend when he was a child and later as something more. With each viewing, she becomes a little more real.

I have to admit to being a little confused by the exact circumstances the protagonist was in. Is he reading a book or watching a film? Or perhaps he’s seeing a vision of an apocalypse on another world. The clues given are contradictory. Either way, it made it difficult to ground myself in the story, as I kept returning to that question to interpret what was happening.

Let a Thousand Poppies Bloom” by Rick Norwood

Newly-elected President George David Abraham, the man who defeated the Martian invasion, has just finished giving his inaugural speech in Washington D.C., during which he made a promise to enact swift and terrible revenge on anyone who harms an American anywhere in the world. Within minutes, a report arrives that a known terrorist, Saifur Rehman, has just kidnapped five Americans in Afghanistan. As his presidential helicopter lifts off the ground to take him back to the White House, an engine failure sends it careening into a dead Martian War Machine, leaving the President to figure out a way to deal with Rehman before he and the helicopter plummet to the ground.

Norwood’s story was a fun read and really drives home the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even on an Allied Earth that recently survived a global invasion by Martians intent on the elimination of the human race, humanity remains divided, clinging to its old ways. The pacing of the tale was perfect, with the action moving along at a nice clip and the character of President Abraham was very likable.

What the Plague Did to Us” by Auston Habershaw

One week after a zombie plague breaks out across the country, cities and other populated areas have been thrown into chaos and those who could, flee to the countryside. Everywhere, survivors band together, trying to live through the onslaught of undead, taking supply runs into town. Two weeks into the apocalypse, however, the survivors discover that the plague isn’t at all what they thought.

In this story, Habershaw answered a question that everyone who’s ever read or watched a zombie shamble across a page or screen must have asked themselves—what if the plague isn’t really a terminal illness? It was an interesting twist, especially when one considers what it would be like if the survivors were the real monsters.

An Infinite Number of Idiots” by Robert Jeschonek

A crew of space explorers visits a new planet, to the surprise of a native and his mate. As the aliens show them around, it becomes clear that all is not as peaceful as it seems on this planet, where the screams of the dying provide much-loved background to a beautiful day as far as its inhabitants are concerned. Unable to resist investigating, the crew gets themselves into a spot of trouble.

Jeshonek’s story is an obvious Star Trek parody of some sort, perhaps of the episode titled “The Apple.” Characters based on the original series’ characters of Captain Kirk, Spock, and others are present but the narrator refers to them only with insulting names. It’s perfectly clear who’s being referenced, though, as even Kirk’s characteristic manner of speaking as well as their Starfleet uniforms and equipment are described. Regardless, there just didn’t seem to be much point to the story, aside from making fun of the show. It wasn’t particularly horrifying, the reasoning for creating clones was a little silly, and the story itself was tedious and felt as though it dragged out too long overall.