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

Weirdbook Annual #2: The Cthulhu Mythos, ed. Douglas Draa

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Weirdbook Annual #2:


The Third Cthulhu Mythos Megapack


Edited by Douglas Draa


(Wildside Press, February 2019, tpb, 148 pp.)


The Shining Trapezohedron” by Robert M. Price
A Noble Endeavor” by Lucy A. Snyder
Ancient Astronauts” by Cynthia Ward
The Thing in the Pond” by John R. Fultz
Enter the Cobweb Queen” by Adrian Cole
Tricks No Treats” by Paul Dale Anderson
Ronnie and the River” by Christian Riley
Cellar Dweller” by Franklyn Searight
Yellow Labeled VHS Tape” by R.C. Mulhare
Tuama” by L.F. Falconer
Mercy Holds No Measure” by Kenneth Bykerk
Treacherous Memory” by Glynn Owen Barrass
The Hutchison Boy” by Darrell Schweitzer

Voices of the Fall, edited by John Ringo & Gary Poole

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Voices of the Fall



Edited by



John Ringo and Gary Poole




(Baen, March 2019, hardcover, 336 pp.)


Starry, Starry Night” by John Ringo
Spectrum” by Mike Massa
Storming the Tower of Babel” by Sarah Hoyt
Return to Mayberry” by Rob Hampson
It Just Might Matter in the End” by Travis S. Taylor
Inhale to the King, Baby!” by Michael Z. Williamson
Ham Sandwich” by Jody Lynn Nye
The Downeasters” by Brendan DuBois
The Species as Big as the Ritz” by Robert Buettner
The Cat Hunters” by Dave Freer
Alpha Gamers” by Griffin Barber
True Faith and Allegiance” by Michael Gants
The Killer Awoke” by John Birmingham

Skull & Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga, ed. Kate Wolford

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Skull & Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga





Kate Wolford


(World Weaver Press, January 22, 2019, pb, 195 pp.)


"Vasilisa the Wise" by Kate Forsyth (reprint, not reviewed)
"A Tale Soon Told" by Lissa Sloan
"Baba Yaga: Her Story" by Jill Marie Ross
"The Partisan and the Witch" by Charlotte Honigman
"The Swamp Hag's Apprentice" by Szmeralda Shanel
"Boy Meets Witch" by Rebecca A. Coates
"Teeth" by Jessamy Corob Cook

Fiction River #30: Hard Choices, ed. Dean Wesley Smith

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Fiction River #30: Hard Choices


Edited by

Dean Wesley Smith


(WMG Publishing, December 28, 2018, pb, 328 pp.)


"Equal Justice" by Annie Reed (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Payback" by Tonya D. Price (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Eric the Monkey" by Dan C. Duval (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Prospecting" by Ron Collins (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Toots" by Michael Kowal (non-genre, not reviewed)
"The Devil's Muse" by Laura Ware
"Clean and Godly in Denmark" by Diana Deverell
"Killshot" by Annie Reed (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Four Hundred Yards" by Dale Hartley Emery (non-genre, not reviewed)
"A Life with Meaning" by David Stier (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Nightmare Scenario" by Chuck Heintzelman
"Echo" by Leslie Claire Walker
"Haunted" by Jamie Ferguson
"Skinwalker" by Valerie Brook
"Missiles of October" by Dan C. Duval (non-genre, not reviewed)
"Girl with a Mission" by Dayle A. Dermatis (non-genre, not reviewed)
"A New Day" by Kendall Heintzelman (non-genre, not reviewed)
"They Taught Us Wrong" by M. L. Buchman
"Tendrils" by Leigh Saunders
"Little Byte and Big Pieces" by Valerie Brook

Cities of Dust, Planes of Light, ed. by Todd Sanders

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Cities of Dust, Planes of Light


edited by

Todd Sanders


(Air and Nothingness Press, January 2019, pb, 108 pp.)


"Lot 814: A Series of Letters – Dated Before the Lunar Defection, Recently Discovered Amongst the Possessions of the Late Princess Alicia III" by Jamie Lackey
"This Is Not Mars" by Sarah Daly
"A Hand Extended" by Cat Rambo
"The Outposts" by Samantha L. Barrett
"The World's More Full of Weeping" by Diane Morrison

Fiction River #29: Pulse Pounders Countdown, ed. by Kevin J. Anderson

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Fiction River #29: Pulse Pounders




Kevin J. Anderson


(WMG Publishing, October 2018, pb, 287 pp.)

Payback is a Bitch” by Diana Deverell
Death-Blind” by Robert Jeschonek
The Airship Adventures of Captain Jane Fury” by Anthea Sharp
Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest” by Henry Martin
The Tomb of Arisel” by Bonnie Elizabeth
Goodnight, Madison” by Lisa Silverthorne
Romancing the Puffin” by Louisa Swann
Dominant Species” by Dayle A. Dermatis
Three Seconds” by T. Thorn Coyle
Blood Chase” by Leah Cutter
Caterpillar Boot Man” by Valerie Brook
The Case of the Dead Son” by Laura Ware
Breakfast at Luigi’s” by Thea Hutcheson
Black Phantom, Gray Op” by Stefon Mears
The Last Ramekin” by Liz Pierce
The Princess, the Huntsman and the Monster” by Erik Lynd

Terra! Tara! Terror! edited by Juliana Rew

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Terra! Tara! Terror!






Juliana Rew


(Flatiron Publishing, Fall/Winter 2018, pb, 161 pp.)


Mud” by Salinda Tyson
Learning to Fly” by Marie Vibbert (not speculative genre)
Father O’Neill’s Confession” by Jen Downes
Me Too, Medusa” by Evelyn Deshane (not speculative genre)
Replica” by John Paul Davies
Music, Dogs, True Love, and a Gateway” by Steven Mathes
The Android Graveyard” by Diane Morrison
Annabel and Edgar” by E. M. Sheehan
black frost at serac’s fall” by Michele Baron (not speculative genre)
The Dance of a Thousand Cuts” by Liam Hogan
The Occasional Cabin” by Stefon Mears
Captain Carthy’s Bride” by K. G. Anderson
Scales, Fallen from His Eyes” by Kelly A. Harmon
Spacism is Still with Us” by Matthew Reardon
Winter War” by Samuel Chapman
The Octopus in the Millpond” by Emmett Schlenz
Field of Honor” by Gustavo Bondoni
Shadow Harvest” by Melanie Rees
All the Moon’s Children” by Kiki Gonglewski
Only the Weak Survive” by Caroline Sciriha
War Dog” by Wulf Moon
If a Tree Falls” by Dan Micklethwaite
Memory and Muchness” by Rhonda Eikamp
My Lady of the Park” by Blake Jessop
To Be Continued” by Robert Silverberg (reprint, not reviewed)
Oceans of Time” by Elizabeth Twist
How to Have a Productive Relationship with Your Semi-Autonomous
Vehicle” by Josh Taylor

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

This anthology contains twenty-seven stories covering all three speculative genres, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In addition to the new stories there is a reprint by Robert Silverberg, not reviewed, and three stories not reviewed because they weren’t in a speculative genre.

Mud” by Salinda Tyson

The World War I nurse is bringing an ambulance full of wounded from the front lines in this short fantasy. With enemy shells bursting nearby her ambulance breaks down in the mud. After arranging the transfer of her most gravely injured to other ambulances she refuses to leave her last patient.

As the shells continue to close in causing the mud underneath to lurch, she waits for death from the gas shells. Then the heaving mud wakes a strange mystical beast, but was it there to help or finish them off?

It was a poignant tale, but the prose was average.

Father O’Neill’s Confession” by Jen Downes

In this short fantasy, Father Hugh O’Neill has a failing liver from twenty years of drinking whiskey. For weeks he prays for help, so he can continue to serve his treasured parish. But when no help comes, he resorts to a different approach. One steeped in the occult. Can witches do what prayers have not?

Downes has written a simple but well-crafted story, though it offers little in the way of expanding the fantasy genre.

Replica” by John Paul Davies

Small islands that are accessible only at low tide are the setting for this short horror story. Throughout the islands and connecting mudflats sixty or more iron statues stand in the likeness of Gorman, the island’s lone occupant. Each statue represents Gorman at a different year of his life.

The mainland teenagers come at night, during low tide, to deface the statues and torment Gorman. He seems powerless to stop them.

This story’s dull plot wasted the prose’s elegant similes and metaphors, leaving the reader to wonder why.

Music, Dogs, True Love, and a Gateway” by Steven Mathes

Dave is the caretaker for NASA’s musical boondoggle in this SF short. The boondoggle responds to any sound with harmonic responses, a remnant from man’s search for alien life.

When the socially inept Dave meets the musically talented Daphne, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. If only he could remember what it was that scared him about the boondoggle!

This was a slow-paced story that had little suspense to it until the final third.

The Android Graveyard” by Diane Morrison

In this SF short, Annabelle administers the android graveyard where robots come when their service life is over. Each android has a chance to display its parts as they wish; a final gesture of their individuality.

Annabelle has been doing this for a very long time, she alone mourns for the autonomous machines that come here for deactivation. But what will become of the graveyard as she approaches retirement?

Morrison has penned an engaging story. A touch slow in the beginning, it soon picked up the pace.

Annabel and Edgar” by E. M. Sheehan

Sheehan’s short fantasy covers the last days of Edgar Alan Poe. Edgar creates a final character, Annabel, who then comes alive to haunt the ailing author.

No one else can see the aberration and so Edgar’s friends see him as less than sane as he appeals for peace. Can he reach an accommodation with the spirit before it is too late?

This was a slow story that jumped about too much to be entertaining.

The Dance of a Thousand Cuts” by Liam Hogan

Ellie has a magical self-teaching sword in this short fantasy. It has taught her well and now she is the best swordsman in the kingdom.

After winning a national contest the judges have chosen her to fight the Crown Prince on the day they will crown him King. Can the royal court allow a fair fight that would risk the Prince’s life?

This was one of those charming stories that fly past far too quickly.

The Occasional Cabin” by Stefon Mears

In this SF short, a man wakes in a remote cabin near the mountains. This wouldn’t be strange, except he went to bed in Manhattan. And this is the third time he’s found himself transported here against his will.

Outside the cabin, birds chirp in the overgrown forest, and he must cut a path to the water pump to drink. On this third visit, the man finds himself dressed in PJ’s. Does this mean he is here forever? He sets off to explore the forest but what he finds leaves him shaken to his core.

Mears has written an engaging snippet of a story filled with mystery. The prose was easy to get immersed in.

Captain Carthy’s Bride” by K. G. Anderson

Anderson’s short fantasy reveals Moira, a silkie engineering her chance at a better life with a captain. She lets the captain find and steal her silkie suit and capture her so she can become his wife.

Now, with two grown children and a pleasant life behind her, Moira finds her past catching up to her. The sea beckons to her to pay the price for her past unsavory actions.

This was a pleasing and easy to read story that concealed its ending twist well.

Scales, Fallen from His Eyes” by Kelly A. Harmon

The ex-soldier wants the last, ancient dragon to eat him in this SF short. With an injured and putrefying leg, he climbs the hill to reach the chained dragon and convince it to supplement its diet with him, a two-hundred-and-eighty-three-year-old human.

In these future days, humanity has found the fountain of youth. But they use this double-faced benefit to bring sorrow to the world and to the dragon, who is reluctant to grant the ex-soldier’s request. Can the old man convince the dragon to end his life?

This was an interesting and nicely written glimpse into a future where the scientific advances have not benefited humanity as expected.

Spacism is Still with Us” by Matthew Reardon

He has just arrived at an ancient tide-locked planet at the galaxy’s edge in this SF short. His mission is to visit planets that have potential for intelligent life and try to make peaceful first contact and exchange ideas.

This ten-billion-year-old planet has cloud-like beings floating around. At first, the clouds seem incapable of interaction, and he thinks that they lack anything beyond a rudimentary awareness of themselves. But then the beings reveal their true feelings.

This was an insightful and unusual view of the future that provided some new ideas for the SF genre.

Winter War” by Samuel Chapman

In this short fantasy, a little girl, Maggie, tries to decide where to buy some fudge at a winter fair. A troll, two dwarves, and a band of brownies each run one of the three closest stalls.

Each group uses their magic to beguile Maggie to come to their stall and soon it turns into an open war the humans cannot see but sometimes feel. Who will win Maggie’s business?

Chapman has authored a story with an original feel to it, though at times the prose lacked a smooth flow.

The Octopus in the Millpond” by Emmett Schlenz

Miller’s Glen has a monster octopus occupying its millpond in this short horror offering. But then, each of the nearby towns has its own monster plaguing them, so there’s nowhere for the people to go. The octopus demands payment in gold and randomly snatches people from the streets to drown them. But none of the people can remember a time when it wasn’t this way.

Bernadette, a member of the town’s watch, has decided to take on the octopus. Other townsfolk have tried, and the monster has either killed, wounded or merely humiliated the person. Bernadette has no realistic expectation that her fate will be any better, yet still she feels compelled to try.

Though the plot was light, the prose was engaging, and it was easy to empathize with Bernadette.

Field of Honor” by Gustavo Bondoni

Bondoni’s short fantasy paints a future where magical spirits invade and condemn men to battle each other. Hina follows the armies to use her mystical sight to harvest these spirits from the bodies of the slain. She will use the spirits to protect her village through the winter months.

In one body, she finds a rare blue spirit. When an ordinary scavenger of the dead challenges her and Gorbi, her young assistant, she must find a way to keep her precious booty.

This was a short and engaging story, though its end was predictable.

Shadow Harvest” by Melanie Rees

The stranger is shadow-rich in this SF short set on a world dominated by its sun Sorath’s deadly light. People pay in pieces of their own shadow and the more you pay, the less protection you have from the sun’s rays.

The stranger enters Sheriva’s desolate bar to offer her a fortune for the shadows from her trees. Sheriva refuses, saying she is content to stay where she is and promising to protect her small patch of this hostile world. But the stranger has power and threatens to destroy her.

The author shows the reader a wonderfully strange world as a setting for another good versus evil story.

All the Moon’s Children” by Kiki Gonglewski

In this short fantasy, Matt’s new friend Jason plied him with mysterious questions. Could he swim, was he happy, and how long could he hold his breath?

Finally, after a month of questions, Jason tells Matt about a secret passage through the lake that opens at the full moon. Jason invites Matt to come with him through the portal to a new and better world. But can Matt pluck up the courage to go with him?

This fantasy had a mundane and predictable plot coupled with creative prose. An unusual combination.

Only the Weak Survive” by Caroline Sciriha

Sciriha’s SF short paints a future where an unknown apocalypse has killed most of humanity. Now, on an island in the ocean, two people take the time to explain how they survived that fateful day to a circle of rapt children.

The children listen attentively to the story as they have in the days before. The two survivors try to explain the meaning of justice, but can these strange children ever understand?

This was a quick but engaging piece that gave the reader plenty to think about.

War Dog” by Wulf Moon

The Conquistadors have landed in Central America in this short fantasy. Balboa, the leader, sees the Pacific Ocean and prepares for a new world order with equality for all. At Balboa’s side is his massive Alaunt war dog, Leoncillo.

Soon, the Spanish King puts all Balboa’s plans at risk by sending an autocratic governor who sets up Balboa for an ambush. But Leoncillo has special powers from the indigenous peoples of the New World.

An interesting alternative history with a twist in its dog’s tail.

If a Tree Falls” by Dan Micklethwaite

Betula is a tree that has just fallen in this short fantasy. She hopes someone will right her, make her useful again. But no one seems to care. Until, one day, a farmer stops by. Maybe he will find a new purpose for her.

The only speculative element is whether a tree has consciousness, otherwise this story had little to offer a fan of the speculative genre.

Memory and Muchness” by Rhonda Eikamp

In this mysterious SF short, Marney mourns the loss of her elder sister, Paley, who has just disappeared up a yellow hole. Marney lives underground with other children under the tutelage of the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Cheshire Cat. Every day they must learn new skills.

Normally each child progresses at a similar pace, but Marney seems different, she is already aware of the White Rabbit and is rebelling against the strict rules imposed on her. Can she find a way to stop her older friends from disappearing too?

Eikamp has authored a well-crafted story full of suspense. Though many others have explored this subject in the past, she has found an original way to spin the tale.

My Lady of the Park” by Blake Jessop

Jessop’s short fantasy shows us a lamp-lighter in London who runs afoul of a tree spirit threatening to kill him for polluting the world. The man pleads for his life telling the Lady of the Park that there is much in the world that is wonderful, even if it no longer follows the old ways.

As he leads the spirit around old London, they encounter both the good and bad sides of humanity. Will it be enough to appease the irate spirit?

This story did not add anything to the fantasy genre, the prose was okay, and the plot was predictable.

Oceans of Time” by Elizabeth Twist

In this flash horror story, Dracula is looking for a late-night bite at a nightclub. It’s been a while and he isn’t certain of the current cultural norms. He quickly runs afoul of a good pick-up line as he tries to score.

This was a little hard to follow at first, but soon the reader will get the hang of the prose as it gives an off-beat view of being a vampire.

How to Have a Productive Relationship with Your Semi-Autonomous Vehicle” by Josh Taylor

Sharon is trying to escape the ongoing demonic apocalypse in this flash horror story. But her autonomous car is making it difficult, preventing her from running over the demonic monkey barring her escape route. She must reach a compromise with her car if she is to survive.

This story was an intriguing alternative look at the horror genre, a nice story.

This is an interesting, eclectic mixture of stories, mostly science fiction or fantasy, with a couple of horror stories and a couple that are outside the speculative genre. Overall the reader will find several engaging stories.


Unidentified Funny Objects #7, edited by Alex Shvartsman

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Unidentified Funny Objects #7


Edited by

Alex Shvartsman


(UFO Publishing, September 2018, pb, 288 pp.)


"The Dragon, the Drudge, and the Drone" by Esther Friesner
"Chad Versus the Rebel Alliance" by Shane Halbach
"The Secret Destiny of Heroes" by Matthew Bailey
"Old School: an Oral History of Captain Dick Chase" by Val Nolan
"Take Meme to Your Leader" by Jennifer Lee Rossman
"Contractual Obligations" by C. Flynt
"Bimble Bimble Bop Bop!" by Richard Anderson
"The Sit Down" by Laura Resnick
"The Ebony Egg" by David Vierling
"The Day After Halloween" by Greg Sisco
"Falling’s Free, Gravity Costs" by Seanan McGuire
"Mission Log Nuptials" by Langley Hyde
"Quick Cash in the Old Kingdom" by Elin Korund
"Key Fang and Klaw" by Fred Stesney
"The Vampire’s Apprentice" by Gini Koch
"The Assassination of 2063" by David Vaughan
"Dethroning the Champeen" by Mike Resnick
"Spear Carriers’ Union #109" by Jamie Gilman Kress
"The Fermi Loneliness Problem" Beth Goder
"Three Ways to Leave Hawaii" by Zach Shephard

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

Time flies. It's hard to believe that Unidentified Funny Objects is now up to its seventh yearly volume, but the number on the cover confirms it. Once again, editor Alex Shvartsman has put together a book that concentrates on one thing there's too little of in science fiction: humor.

The book starts out with "The Dragon, the Drudge, and the Drone." Esther Friesner has a long history of humorous stories and this one concentrates on Gavin Crane, whose flying drone somehow crossed into another dimension to bring back a real dragon. Gavin had a dead end job and a boss—Mr. Pendleton—who makes his life miserable. Of course, having a dragon allows him to get a little revenge. The story is amusing, but never really took off to achieve hilarity.

Shane Halbach's "Chad Versus the Rebel Alliance" tells about Chad, a cloned soldier in the Imperial Army, out to stop the rebel scum. As is everyone else in his unit: they’re an army of Chads, all gung ho, loyal, somewhat stupid, and willing to give their life for the empire. Repeatedly. Chad is captured by the rebels and begins to learn the truth of his background. This is a serious issue with a humorous veneer. It's well contrived, but a bit predictable.

The protagonist of "The Secret Destiny of Heroes" is an evil overlord who is about to meet his destiny in the form of a hero who invaded his bedchamber while he was sleeping in order to kill him. With only his words, he tries to convince the hero otherwise. Matthew Bailey deals amusingly with destiny and the idea that the villain may not actually be so.

"Old School: an Oral History of Captain Dick Chase" by Val Nolan is structured as a series of interviews by people who interacted with chase, an old fashioned pulp hero who leads human forces to a might victory. Chase had been frozen for millennia and has an approach to life that is out of the time, but he manages to use it to ensure victory. The form is probably not the best way to portray matters, since we don't really see Chase in action and I found the story unengaging.

"Take Meme to Your Leader" by Jennifer Lee Rossman is about Maddie Espinoza, who gives makeup tutorials on Youtube and who is suddenly faced with an alien who speaks only in Internet memes and who needs her help to defeat another alien. It's a nice conceit, and the memes are cleverly used.

C. Flynt contributes "Contractual Obligations" about an alchemist/lawyer who is called upon by Melvin Schmook to help with a deal he made with a demon, giving up twenty years of his life in exchange for the demon fixing his stutter. It turns into a legal case to try to find a way out. Pretty common ground, though the story is amusing as it deals with how Schmook will get away with it.

Some of the stories in the anthology try hard (sometimes a bit too hard) to be wacky, but Richard Anderson's "Bimble Bimble Bop Bop!" manages to pull it off. It's a strangd mixture of exploding penguins, mutant hedgehogs, and the world's worst earworm. The story is very pythonesque (especially with the exploding penguins) but somehow manages to make it all work.

"The Sit Down" by Laura Resnick is set in the wilds of New Jersey, where Vito and Joey the Chin are about to dump the body of a squealer. Their attempt is interrupted by a flying saucer, manned by aliens who were on a peaceful mission and don't want to create an interstellar incident. Misunderstanding ensues. An interesting juxtaposition, but the story seemed a little bit flat to me.

David Vierling tries his hand at a hard-boiled detective story with "The Ebony Egg," John Loathing is a private eye who learns of the death of his partner Justinian Fear (yes the agency is "Fear and Loathing") and meets up with Mila DeKnight, a femme fatale who hired Fear to find the Quetzalcoatl Egg, a priceless artifact, which is also desired by a fat man, Porno DuSgusto. Yes, it's a parody of The Maltese Falcon and follows the original in too many details. While it's fun to spot the references at first, there isn't much more to it, and I wonder how much someone unfamiliar with the original story would understand.

"The Day After Halloween" by Greg Sisco shows that the children of the town are hyper but not just from the usual sugar rush. The candy turns them into goblins, screaming out "Treat! Treat! Treat!". Roger Wilkes and the other parents of the town try to find out the cause, and to change things back. The story doesn't have a lot of laugh lines, though the situation is a good one.

"Falling's Free, Gravity Costs" is set on the Mercury Midway, a spaceship that visited other planets as a traveling carnival. Nora, who loves the life, is one of many clones of a famous actress. But things get complicated when they are attacked by pirates, is left by her own clone and has to come up with a way to survive. Seanan McGuire's story works generally well as an old-fashioned adventure, but is only mildly amusing.

"Mission Log Nuptials" by Langley Hyde is the story of a man who falls madly in love with Maggie, a Sheshmin woman whose dating habits are obscure. He quickly learns that they have some odd requirements that the narrator works hard to fill. There's a lot of wackiness that hides the fact that the basic story is pretty conventional.

Elin Korund's "Quick Cash in the Old Kingdom" is set in ancient Egypt, where Akmut—poor and starving—prays to a beetle talisman that comes to life with the personality of his great grandfather, Ratsup, a shady character who convinces the desperate Akmut to rob the Pharaoh's grave to find the money he needs, using spells from the Book of Moon. The magic helps, but not really enough. The story is fast moving and Ratsup is a lively character—a con man who has an answer for everything, even if it's not the answer Akmut wants. Definitely a high point of the anthology, cleverly plotted and well handled.

"Key Fang and Klaw" by Fred Stesney shows Dr. Malicivious, the master of the island Key Fang, a mad scientist to end all mad scientists, who works across a strait from Muldida Gor Bracken, mistress of Key Klaw, a mad wizard to end all mad wizards. Naturally, the two have to destroy each other. The result is a bizarre and wacky battle as science tries to defeat fantasy and vice versa. Giant robots and zombie gorillas are part of the ride. Nice over-the-top humor throughout.

I was very impressed with Gini Koch's "The Vampire’s Apprentice," designed as a series of letters from Willoughby, who has been taken on by Count Alucard as his apprentice. Willoughby is so impressed that he takes on the role with gusto, doing everything to help the count and being fiercely loyal and unwilling to believe the slanders about him. Willoughby is a great character—not as smart as he thinks he is (it never occurs to him to spell the count's name backwards), and much of the humor arises from reading between the lines of the narrative as he refuses to accept what the reader knows is going on. Excellent overall.

"The Assassination of 2063" by David Vaughan is based on the old meme of coincidences between John F. Kennedy and Lincoln. Melvyn Hickory is elected president in 2060, leading an America that self-destructed years ago. This was at the behest of General Neriya Varman, who wants to return the US to glory. With his running mate, Android Johnson, Hickory wins, but is slated to die like the other two. The worldbuilding is interesting, but I don't think enough was done with it.

"Dethroning the Champeen" is one of Mike Resnick's Lucifer Jones stories, where the missionary/ne'er-do-well antihero finds himself in Australia, just about the only country that will let him within its borders. He is immediately exiled to the miniscule town of Gumly Gumly, where he is dragooned into boxing the town's champion. The plot is nothing special, but the character of Jones keeps the entire story lively and fun to read.

"Spear Carriers’ Union #109" falls right into a favorite subject of mine: metafiction. Henrietta Daily is part of the title organization, where she happily goes around on the periphery of the protagonists and villains of the novel, not wanting to be dragged into the story. But soon things become difficult. Jamie Gilman Kress starts with the concept and runs with it, with good success.

"The Fermi Loneliness Problem" by Beth Goder is a first contact story which actually deals with a fairly serious issue: how can we make contact with aliens if we don't recognize them as aliens? We are shown various alien races visiting Earth, starting long before there was human life, and making their own judgment on the planet. Time passes and by the 21st century Mathilda Snodwell manages to be the one who makes contact. There are amusing incidents on the way and the voice manages to keep it light.

Zach Shephard finishes out the volume with "Three Ways to Leave Hawaii." Jennifer is trying to leave Hawaii for home, but her travel plans fall apart and she has to find a ride. But she runs into Russ Beliniski, the Voodoo King of the Northwest, who offers her three different routes that lead to three different realities, where she has three different jobs. And realities start to intertwine. I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on and didn't care much for it.

So here the Reviewers Guild requires me to say that humor is subjective blah blah blah. The best stories here tickled my funny bone, and even the ones I didn't much care for made a strong attempt to be fun, something I love to see.

Chuck Rothman's novels Staroamer's Fate and Syron's Fate were recently republished by Fantastic Books.


What October Brings: A Lovecraftian Celebration of Halloween, ed. Douglas Draa

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What October Brings:

A Lovecraftian

Celebration of Halloween


Edited by

Douglas Draa


(Celaeno Press, September 2018, pb, 332 pp.)


Hallowe’en in a Suburb” by Howard Phillips Lovecraft (poem, not reviewed)
Uncle’s in the Treetops” by Darrell Schweitzer
Down into Silence” by Storm Constantine
The War on Halloween” by Cody Goodfellow
That Small, Furry, Sharp-toothed Things” by Paul Dale Anderson
Waters Strangely Clear” by Alan Baxter
The House on Jimtown Road” by Ran Cartwright
Spider Wasp” by Tim Curran
The Old Man Down the Road” by Arinn Dembo
The Immortician” by Andre E. Harewood
Nyarlahotep Came Down to Georgia” by Nancy Holder
A Night for Masks” by Brian M. Sammons
No Other God but Me” by Adrian Cole
Inheritance” by Ann K. Schwader
Hum—Hurt You. Hum—Hurt You. Hum—Hurt You.” by John Shirley
Cosmic Cola” by Lucy A. Snyder
Hell Among the Yearlings” by Chet Williamson
Summer’s End” by Erica Ruppert

Gaslight Gothic, ed. by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec

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Gaslight Gothic:

Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes


Edited by


J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec


(EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, July 2018, pb, 261 pp.)


"The Cuckoo's Hour" by Mark A. Latham
"The Spirit of Death" by David Stuart Davies
"Father of the Man" by Stephen Volk
"The Strange Case of Dr. Sacker and Mr. Hope" by James Lovegrove
"The Ignoble Sportsmen" by Josh Reynolds
"The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder" by Nancy Holder
"The Lizard Lady of Pemberton Grange" by Mark Morris
"The Magic of Africa" by Kevin P. Thornton
"A Matter of Light" by Angela Slatter
"The Song of a Want" by Lyndsay Faye

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