Tangent Online

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Issue #29

E-mail Print
Image


"Murder on The Zenith Express" by Simon Petrie
"Scattersmith" by David J. Kane
"A Day in Her Lives" by Kevin Veale 
"Of Loaves, Fishes and Mars Bars" by Sue Bursztynski 
"The Colour of a Brontosaurus" by Paul E. Martens
"From the Inside, Out" by David Dumitru

Simon Petrie
's "Murder on the Zenith Express" is a detective story, a science fiction story, and a totally fun read.  Financier Neil B. Formey has been murdered aboard the elevator hotel known as Skyward Suites 207.  Now it's up to Gordon Mamon, "lift operator, first aid officer, complaints officer, janitor, dishwasher, room service, security officer and house detective," to find out who killed Formey—before they kill him next. 
 
While supposedly a serious detective story, this piece has way too much fun to take itself seriously.  From its delightful opening line ("Gordon Mamon was the lift operator in a hotel that didn't have a lift") to its wonderfully satisfying ending, this story managed to perfectly blend hardcore detective fiction with humor and science fiction.  Well worth the read. 
 
"Scattersmith" by David J. Kane was a difficult read.  It has its fun moments, like when everyday items such as cell phones transform into occult spirit weapons For the most part, however, the story seems so concerned with keeping secrets from the readers that by the time the end comes, we don't care about the resolution.  The characters don't resonate; they're doing incredible feats and are in life-threatening peril, but there's no reason to care about them.  We don't know who they are or why, exactly, they're in such danger. 
 
Throughout "Scattersmith," I got the feeling that it was part of a much larger body of work or collection of legends, and that only a reader who was already familiar with the world would "get it."  
 
"A Day in Her Lives" by Kevin Veale is confusing, but the confusion feels deliberate.  At the beginning, we know only that something horrible has happened, and no one knows what or why or even who they are.  Bit by bit, the story builds tiny, fragile pieces of identity of a scarred world full of frightened people.  Someone has planned for this disaster, but no one knows who, or why, or how they knew what was coming.  And the planning was far from perfect. 
 
Who are you when you don't know who you are?  This story explores that question in detail.  In fact, the details may be the strongest part of what is undoubtedly a very strong story.  Don't read this expecting it to come together in the end; there are some answers towards, but many things are left heartbreakingly vague.  Even so, this a study in character and human nature worth reading. 
 
Sue Bursztynski's "Of Loaves, Fishes and Mars Bars" is a feel-good Holy Grail story.  It isn't deep, doesn't make you think, doesn't present incredibly deep or compelling characterizations.  It is, however, enjoyable; a good story for those times when you just want a little pick-me-up. 
 
Elanor likes to play with the little silver bowl where her grandfather keeps change for bus fares.  It's a fairly ordinary piece of bric-a-brac—until the day she wishes for a Mars bar and finds one in the bowl.  But when her grandfather dies, the bowl is sold, and Elanor begins a quest to get it back. 
 
It's hard to believe that the Holy Grail could be in one family for so long without more people realizing what it was.  And the constant J.R.R. Tolkien references got old very quickly.  Still, the story, although a little tedious, was pleasant. 
 
In "The Colour of a Brontosaurus" by Paul E. Martens, Stu Gehrig and his archaeological team have just made the discovery of a lifetime; a human femur in the ground, exactly the same age as the dinosaur bones around it.  As the trio discusses the possibilities, it threatens to tear their team apart.  Joel is convinced the femur is a hoax.  Renee believes that the Creationists must have been right, after all.  But Stu knows the femur must belong to a time traveler, and the idea that it might be possible to go back in time, back to the world of dinosaurs and giant insects, becomes his one obsession. 
 
The story is remarkably beautiful, compelling, and fun.  Stu's enthusiasm is contagious, even if you couldn't care less about the color of a brontosaurus.  And his relationship with his wife, Marcy, is deep and complex and well-rounded.  Stu comes alive as a person throughout the story, and a good, solid plot is made all the better by the addition of Stu's flaws.  Well worthwhile. 
 
"From the Inside, Out" by David Dumitru was a seriously weird and creepy little story.  Andy works a mind-numbingly boring job, one of only two organics in a factory operated by bots and the monkeys.  Supposedly, the organics are the bosses—or, rather, Boykin is; Andy is simply floor supervisor and the call-center communicator.  But when Boykin oversteps his bounds, things start getting nasty, fast. 
 
"From the Inside, Out" is a fun story, in a creepy way, and a thought-provoking story, in a fun way, and completely unusual and out of the ordinary in every way.  It isn't complicated or hard to follow, but you can read through it several times without being sure that you understand where the author is going.  Interesting and unusual.