Friday, 16 June 2017

A Review of Cirsova #4 [Part 2]

Check it out Here!

A friendly reminder that Cirsova is still taking submissions for off-kilter science fiction and fantasy stories. And with that done, we now return to our regularly scheduled post continuing from last week.

For those who missed it, I reviewed the first half of the issue here. This post will cover the remainder of issue four.

. . . Where There Is No Sanctuary by Howie K. Bentley is next and it is a real punch in the face. This might be my favorite story in the issue. A werewolf warrior cuts his way through a demonic tower that has fallen out of time. Lots of action, horror, and imagination. This is the type of material that I read Cirsova for.

But then we have another turn. Dust of Truth by Joyce Frohn is about a group of barbarian women looting and pillaging before a wedding to her subservient man. And that’s the whole story. There aren’t any twists or turns or real sense of danger. Events transpire around the main character, and then it ends. There is also no reason given for the sex-flipped roles, and it is distracting. This is easily my least favorite story I've read in any issue of Cirsova.

Thankfully, it was a one-off. The Priests of Shalaz by Jay Barnson is another great tale. This one is about a border between worlds and involves the British Empire, magic, and giants. It’s very much in the vein of Burroughs and sets the pace again after the last story's bump in the road.

It’s followed up by The Last Dues Owed by Christine Lucas, a story about an assassin that finds himself trapped in a plot that involves Egyptian magic, a battle between assassins, and his possible family(?) on top of it. This was another solid read.

Then we have the second and final novelette of the issue, Shadow Vision by Preston Dennett. This was right up my alley. A boy with a strange gift travels through a shadow fog with his companions and meets some . . . interesting obstacles along the way. This is pure Fantasy Adventure.

As we near the end we reach The Ride by Edward McDermott. This is about a man escaping pursuers into a mountain cave system and facing what lies in the dark. It's creepy, unsettling, and action packed. The issue has really turned around since Dust of Truth. This story is very much what I enjoyed about Cirsova the most.

The last story in this double-stuffed issue is The Phantom Sands of Calavass by S.H. Mansouri. This was about an investigator landing on a desert planet and looking into some strange murders. Naturally, because this is Cirsova, things go south very quickly. This was a good story to end the issue though it took a while to get moving and the ending was not quite satisfying enough for me. This was another solid tale.

At the end we have an essay by Liana Kerzner called The Feminine Force Awakens about that recent Disney fanfiction Star Wars movie with a similar title, though it is really about women roles in science fiction and fantasy and how said movie gets credit for doing something it should not be getting credit for. If you want to know the real history of women and their place in the history of the genre you could do a lot worse than this. As an example, you could be reading mainstream blogs that vilify everything written before 1980 in another pathetic attempt at revisionism.

To sum it up, this was not one of the best issues of Cirsova. Issues #2 and #3 are still the ones to beat. However, it still offers a good amount of bang for your buck, and a few of the stories (as well as the poem and essay) are some of the best they've yet put out. If you're new to Cirsova, I recommend any of the earlier issues, but if you're a fan then dig in.

We need more magazines like Cirsova, reminding us jut how inspiring and jaw-dropping speculative fiction can be. In an age of grey fog, it is the lighthouse shining the way back home. You are doing yourself a disservice if you are not reading this magazine.


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