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

Neo-opsis #12

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"The Value of Paper Clips" by Stephan Ingstrand
"In Search of a Loop Hole" by C. S. Johnson
"The Lost Generation" by David Wright
"Fuzzy Green Monster Number Two" by Suzanne Church
"Profit Margin" by Kristopher Latter
"Here There Be Dragons" by Jack Mackenzie
"Mediclone" by Garth Holden
"Expensive Things" by Ryan Laliberte
"Collaboration" by Bruce Barber

 is a Canadian semi-pro specializing in genre fiction from Canada’s best. I’m new to Neo-opsis, so issue #12 was a first view for me. I found the magazine a mixed bag.

The first tale of this issue, "The Value of Paper Clips" by Stephan Ingstrand, is a silly bit of nonsense wherein a terminator-style robot travels back in time to recover valued artifacts. A much-used concept, except the artifact sought is the humble paper clip. The tale offers some nice twists, but in the end, I failed to see the point.

"In Search of a Loop Hole" by C. S. Johnson is another time travel tale where a battered wife seeks to escape her violent husband. By means unexplained, she comes into possession of a magical time travel watch and tries to change the past wherein death and disaster for herself and her child occurred. But she can’t seem to get it right and cycles through the day over and over. In the end, it seems she succeeds, but the tale concludes without confirmation, stepping around the many paradoxes and contradictions which traveling through time to change the past entails.

"The Lost Generation" by David Wright is an odd tale of a world mostly populated by children after a biological weapons plague. Robots raise the children to puberty when the plague takes hold. One child rails against this cold, mechanical childhood, and the robots learns. They pass the lessons learned along until the day when the machines will solve the riddle of the plague and return humanity to humans.

"Fuzzy Green Monster Number Two" by Suzanne Church is a nice coming-of-age tale about a homeless girl who befriends a homeless fuzzy green alien immigrant from the stars. Both are homeless and on the streets seeking the answer to the eternal question, "Who am I and what am I to do with my life?" In the process of helping one another, they stumble upon an answer. Nicely written, if a bit clichéd.

"Profit Margin" by Kristopher Latter is an improbable tale that plays with the classic paranoid delusion that the government is out to get us all in the quest to aid its corporate masters. In this tale, people are framed, imprisoned, and forced into slave labor camps, all without the public or press noticing. I just couldn’t kick start my willing suspension of disbelief for this tale. When a U.S. Senator can’t pull off a little anonymous groping in an airport john, I have a hard time believing (even in fiction) that the government can accomplish mass enslavement in secret.

"Here There Be Dragons..." by Jack Mackenzie is a meandering vignette about a dragon who forsakes his dragonhood to get the (human) girl. But he cannot deny his violent nature in the end, which ruins everything. This is well written and entertaining, but ends without arriving at any conclusions.

"Mediclone" by Garth Holden posits a nice idea but seems too satisfied with posing the question without offering any answers. What if the government could create clone soldiers genetically altered to experience an orgasm when they performed their particular specialty: infantrymen who got off whenever they killed, medics when they saved lives, and so on. An interesting question, but I wanted the author’s answer as well.

"Expensive Things" by Ryan Laliberte is a short-short that left me cold. Merrill the college boy is furious with his parents because they had him genetically modified before birth so he’d be perfect. His answer to this outrage is self mutilation. Why? As a lifelong wearer of eyeglasses, I was left scratching my head.

"Collaboration" by Bruce Barber is a marvelous tale about living beyond personal tragedy and the best offering of this issue. Malverne, brilliant composer and concert pianist, is incinerated in an accident but survives as a cyborg—metal and plastic with an organic core. How can he return to the keyboard when he’s no longer human? He’s visited by the ghost of another composer, similarly cut off from life a century before. Together, they quest to create that most human of arts, music, and succeed.

Overall, this was a fine if uneven visit to genre fiction north of the border. I commend it to you.