Realms of Fantasy -- August 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010 19:20 Carl Slaughter
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"Super Family" by Ian Donald Keeling
"Father Penas' Last Dance" by Hannah Strom-Martin
"Seagull Girl's Butterfly Tongue" by Sara Genge
"Dragon" by TD Edge

Reviewed by Carl Slaughter

This month's Realms of Fantasy has superheroes, vampires, zombies, and a dragon.  The superhero story includes plenty of superpowers and plenty of action but is more about family relationships than saving the world, the vampire story includes no blood and lots of passion, the zombie story is about being assimilated rather than being eaten, and the dragon neither makes itself visible nor breathes fire.  So all four stories do something fundamentally new and different with some old genres.  The strategy works well in all four cases.  For the editor, an innovative move and overwhelming success.  Surely this month's issue was well calculated and surely it warrants some type of professional recognition.    

"Super Family" by Ian Donald Keeling is not your typical superhero story.  A father and daughter discover on the same night that they both have superpowers.  He awkwardly fills her in on 20 years worth of family controversy, plus the origins of superheroes, and the death of the superhero founder.  This long overdue conversation is interrupted more than once by a sinister superhero and the almost god-like being he created and can no longer control.  Father and daughter take turns defeating the seemingly undefeatable being.  Will father and daughter finally get to the concert tonight?  Will husband and wife stay together?  Was the superbeing finally permanently destroyed?  Superhero stories are ideally suited for the screen or comics.  Using prose instead is a challenge, but the author is up to the task.  Plenty of superhero action, but a bit heavy on the drama.  Colorful characters.  

Since no blood flows, "Father Penas' Last Dance," by Hannah Strom-Martin, is not a typical vampire story.  A young woman and an elderly priest both had the same experience with vampires.  Their love was stolen on their wedding night.  After exchanging stories, they plot to rescue their captured mates from the vampires' lair.  Their strategy involves the passion of the tango.  The passion of the author's prose exceeds even the passion of the story's dance.

In "Seagull Girl's Butterfly Tongue," by Sara Genge, zombies recruit instead of attack.  They assimilate something like Borg style.  And they absorb all species, not just humans.  Mike is like The Omega Man, almost all of Earth's humans having "taken the last evolutionary step."  Mike and the zombies establish a truce and spend the rest of the story engaged in dialog.  Will they convert him?

"Dragon," by TD Edge, is a coming of age story.  A young woman must have a solitary meeting with a dragon as part of a ritual to become a princess.  The meeting is a night of discovery for both of them and has physical and intellectual implications.  She will never bear children and she resolves to make major, overdue changes in the kingdom.