Lone Star Stories, Issue No. 19, February 1, 2007.

Thursday, 15 February 2007 06:38 Yael Artom
“Neighbors” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
“Chimaeras” by Jenn Reese
“Janet, Meet Bob” by Gavin J. Grant

In “Neighbors” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Ann lives with her paralyzed grandchild, Kyle, in a little town. One day, a delivery man brings her by mistake a package for her neighbors, who have just moved. The Crandalls had lived near Ann for six years, but she knows next to nothing about them beside the fact that they had visitors at night and that strange equipment came out of their house when they moved. And now she is left with a package and no neighbors.

"Neighbors" is a mystery with an eerie edge. The atmosphere and the environment are conveyed vividly through little details. One can almost see the little town and the nosey neighbors. Even though the plot is somewhat inconclusive, the feeling left by the open ending is one of mystery and wonder.

In “Chimaeras” by Jenn Reese, Murielle is a programmer who works in the Kingdom, a virtual reality game with a medieval setting in which the players live and fight monsters and dragons. Everything is real to the players, including wounds, so when the monsters get out of hand, Murielle has to go inside the Kingdom to stop a maddened Gorgon.

"Chimaeras" is fantasy/sci-fi. The Kingdom is furnished with local taverns, monsters, knights, and damsels in distress, but what often becomes hackneyed in a fantasy medieval setting is handled with tongue-in-cheek humor, aided by the science-fiction elements. The message is somewhat banal, but the lightness prevents it from becoming a nuisance.

In “Janet, Meet Bob” by Gavin J. Grant, Bob is killing Janet, or is he? Janet reacts, maybe, and the rest of the people in the world keep doing whatever it is they're doing, each in their own doubtful turn, each in their strange relationships with each other.

"Janet, Meet Bob" is a bizarre, charmingly written, clever work about possibilities in real and fictional stories. It is Grant's witty and skillful style that captures the reader first, the hazy carousel of an infinite number of characters—all potentially important or unimportant to the same extent and all intruding almost uninvited— that intrigues, and finally, the sophisticated content that leaves readers wondering and slightly uncomfortable at the possibility of our irrelevance in the buzz of the world. Maybe female nephew Alis, maybe lovers, maybe ex-husbands, maybe fishing, maybe killing, maybe reporting, maybe reported, but all definitely featured in this tall tale that frames short stills in the fast movements of fictional worlds.