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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

The Death-Wish

By Max Kalender

Danny tripped on a broken cobblestone and almost crashed right into a businessman sipping coffee. She barely recovered, using her forward momentum and one well-placed foot to hurl herself over and upwards, crashing through the air like a violent bird. She hit the ground again and kept running, pounding down the street as fast as she could. She could hear the caster boy shouting behind her, telling her to stop, to come back, to hand over what she’d stolen. If she hadn’t been so out of breath, she would have laughed.

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Copyright Neils Christensen

Black Friday

By Caren Gussoff

Tillie Montgomery couldn’t hold it any longer.

She pulled her mother by the arm, like when she was an impatient kid, toward the closest exit, between the hot pretzel counter and the beauty supplies.

Her mother tugged back.

“Please, mom,” Tillie said. “Quickly.”

The voice of the all-pink Elvis vendor seemed to follow them from the atrium the whole way to the exit, alternating between “Hunka Burning Love” and the exclusive features of the microphone, available that day for a special Wednesday price — even though everyone everywhere knew retailers started the serious sales two days later, on Black Friday.

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Copyright Neils Christensen

The Lodeon Situation

By Robert Bagnall

Gail Burden stared out of her window at the traffic kicking up the puddles in the Greys Inn Road, then back to the files on her desk.

A red light blinked on her voicemail. It had been blinking for some days now.

The issue was a trivial one. Burden had been Director of Central Services for the Corporation for three years, and she did her utmost to avoid trivia. When Shelley, the internal consultant, started to explain the background to what had now become known as the “Lodeon Situation” she felt the hot pressure of a migraine coming on. It took a moment to grasp why she was being involved in a matter of detail, a petty issue of a couple of hundred Euros a year at most. But she also fully understood dangers of precedent, of policy decisions coming back to bite you when you least expect it.

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Book Review: Deadly Curiosities, by Gail Z. Martin

Deadly Curiosities, by Gail Z. MartinDeadly Curiosities is fantasy author Gail Z. Martin’s first step into the urban fantasy genre. The story follows Cassidy Kincaide, the psychic owner of Trifles and Folly — an antique shop specializing in the identification and neutralization of dangerous magical artifacts. When seemingly mundane objects trigger a wave of fresh hauntings across Charleston, South Carolina, it’s up to Cassidy and her allies to find out what’s fueling the dark magic, and stop it.

Cassidy is aided in her search by two friends. Teag, one of her employees, is a master of martial arts who can weave both information and energy to suit his needs. With them is Sorren, a vampire who has protected members of Cassidy’s family for generations. I was a little skeptical seeing another urban fantasy where the female lead tags along with a powerful vampire guardian. But for the most part Sorren stays in the background and avoids the worst of the cliches.

Martin is clearly in her element when bringing the ghosts of Charleston to life. Cassidy’s investigation is peppered with the stories of pirates and smugglers whose deaths are tied to the evil threatening the city. I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of ghost stories and I loved the touch of character Martin gave to her haunts.

Unfortunately, as the book progresses the pacing stalls out. Between the ghost stories and magic infused battles, the characters sit down again and again to rehash information and review their plans. The writing, which flows well enough during the book’s action scenes, becomes repetitive and clunky in these sections. It’s frustrating to see these problems from someone with as much experience as Martin, especially when they distract from an otherwise fun story.

Despite the bog-down in the middle, Cassidy’s investigation does come to a satisfying conclusion, and urban fantasy fans will likely enjoy this peek at the spookier side of Charleston.

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Review by Caitlin Seal

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (June 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781082332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781082331
Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

The Piano Spinner

By Hayley Chewins

Madd is ten when he hears the world stop turning, standing in his red gumboots in the center of Wednesday’s busiest slum. No one else seems to notice the chickens walking in neat circles, the trees bent in still air, the rain pouring down from a bright, cloudless sky.

But he does.

His mother comes home most evenings. Makes dinner and strokes his head. Afterwards, he is allowed to sit for a while on the roof of the shack, watching stars circling.

Not tonight.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Bombardier

By K. Edwin Fritz

Not everyone knows it, but perpetual motion is possible. And to manage the feat you need only follow the five simple steps detailed below. But before you read on, be forewarned. Venturing into a world that defies the laws of known reality cannot be undone. It is enormous, this thing. Like an infection that never runs dry of food.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

One Hour Empire

By Tim West

3:04 AM

She was the first to arrive, but she wouldn’t be the last.

Since this phenomenon had begun, she was always my favorite. I wasn’t in love with her, just captivated by her presence. I couldn’t remember her name, Jeanette or Jacqueline, but she was fairly tall, had brown hair with blonde bangs, some acne scars on her forehead, and a tattoo on her forearm. Maybe more than any other of them, she appeared the most intense — the eyes say a lot. Regardless, she always said hello to me every time she woke up.

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