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

Cirsova #6, Fall 2017

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Cirsova #6, Fall 2017

The Last Job on Harz” by Tyler Young

Death on the Moon” by Spencer E. Hart
The Battlefield of Keres” by Jim Breyfogle
Othan, Vandal” by Kurt Magnus
Temple of the Beast” by Harold R. Thompson
Tear Down the Stars” by Adrian Cole
The Magelords of Ruach” by Abraham Strongjohn

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

The 6th issue of Cirsova has seven original science fiction or fantasy stories, including two novelettes.

The Last Job on Harz” by Tyler Young

Rick is a top investigative agent in this action SF novelette. He is just back to a loving wife from an off-world mission, when his boss sends him out again to investigate some brutal attacks on Harz, a desolate mining planet.

Alien monsters almost kill Rick and his ex-Marine rookie partner within hours of reaching the dusty planet. They must shoot their way out to survive. The rookie sees the case as cut and dried, but Rick sees some sinister underpinnings. Things are not as they first appear and the situation begins to devolve into a political mess. Can Rick keep his gung-ho partner under control as he searches for the answer?

Young has plenty of action in this SF story and the end has a surprising twist to it. But the subject matter, attack by nasty looking aliens on a distant planet, has been well trodden over the years.

Death on the Moon” by Spencer E. Hart

Someone commits murder on the moon in this mysterious SF short. Sent by the company building a new observatory, Bert is investigating the crime so work on the observatory can resume.

In doesn’t take long for Bert to meet a charming woman and a mean man, each complicating his mission. Soon the three of them become tangled in a fight over the moon’s treasures.

The prose was engaging, and the plot was predictable. The ending offered little in the way of a surprise.

The Battlefield of Keres” by Jim Breyfogle

In this short fantasy, Mangos talks himself into a treasure hunt for fallen hero Gorman’s helm. Not wanting to lose even a petty bet, Mangos enlists the help of a young woman, Kat, who knows where the helm might be.

They travel to Keres and to the old battlefield there. So haunted and dangerous a place it is that the bodies still lie unburied. The two of them slip into the battlefield and soon encounter dangers from wolves, demons, mages, and even other human treasure hunters. Their real challenges only begin when they spy the helm in the distance.

Breyfogle has written a nice action adventure that was easy to read; a short piece of escapist literature.

Othan, Vandal” by Kurt Magnus

Magnus’ short fantasy tells us about a master thief, Othan, who steals a magic talisman from a primitive tropical tribe. But the tribe’s shaman casts a spell on Othan as he flees with the talisman.

Back in his home city, Othan sells the talisman and pays off his debts. But the spell leaves him in pain and dying. He sees the shaman around the city, waiting. Can Othan find a way out of this curse?

This story’s prose was slow and heavy on the description. However, the plot was interesting.

Temple of the Beast” by Harold R. Thompson

An ancient beast called Eldorak feeds off the town’s hardy inhabitants in this short fantasy. Colonel Brown hires a local, Gorlak, to be his guide so he can capture the creature and free the town from Eldorak’s ravages. The Colonel sets off for the forest with Gorlak, plus a photo-imager, and several local bearers.

Gorlak proves to be a good guide and soon they find the elusive equine-like monster. But after tranquilizing it, things go very wrong for Colonel Brown and the search party when one member is unfaithful. The beast proves to be just that, a wild and dangerous creature.

This short mythical fantasy covered material that countless other authors have explored, with the addition of including some current technologies. Though the prose was good, the plot did little to add to the subject matter.

Tear Down the Stars” by Adrian Cole

Voruum is a witch-hunter from the distant future in this short SF fantasy. He and his assistant are in a remote mountaintop monastery to solve the disappearance of two privileged and powerful students.

The local monks believe that a rebel faction kidnapped the two boys, but Voruum uncovers evidence that they left willingly. When he and his assistant trace them to an abandoned complex, they discover a more nefarious plan is afoot. And Voruum discovers an adversary more powerful than himself.

The plot had some interesting twists and the prose flowed easily. Overall an okay read.

The Magelords of Ruach” by Abraham Strongjohn

In this fantasy novelette, Ch’Or is a Martian prince captured by the Neptunians and sent to Triton along with Ra’Ana his princess and fiancée. Eight Magelords rule Triton, and one, Inuon, plans to use the Martians to take full control from Vraala, the Queen of Neptune.

On the way to Inuon, an attack by a vicious xilland creates a chance for Ch’Or to escape. Free again, he finds himself befriended by rebel Tritonians, determined to throw off the yoke of the Magelords. Ch’Or agrees to join them, so that he can rescue his beloved princess.

As Ch’Or and the Tritonians attack the Magelords’ enforcers, Ch’Or meets Zindaya, the mystical and erstwhile ruler of Triton. Vraala, had magically bound Zindaya’s eight children to the Magelords, and now Zindaya wants to free them all. So, she offers her help to Ch’Or as well. Will this be enough to overthrow the arrogant Magelords and win the freedom of Ra’Ana?

The writing craft was a little slow. It was a story in the old pulp fiction tradition and offered nothing new for the genre.