Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cirsova Double Review!

It's been a while since I covered Cirsova. This is mostly down to having such a packed 2017 but also because I had so much to read. After that giant double issue review it just took me a while to work my way back to it. But I managed. That out of the way, I'm going to start this review with issue #5!

Issue #5 was different for Cirsova as it was the special Eldritch Earth volume. Here the main theme was, you guessed it, Lovecraftian abominations in the distant past where the world is a much different place. This initiative was started by Misha Burnett, author extraordinaire as well as writer for one of the stories here. What all this does is give issue 5 a much different feel from the others as it has a strong horror tone throughout where almost every tale is just dripping with ephemeral terror and eerie monsters out of Lovecraft's warped imagination.

These are hard stories to review individually because they all blend together in style. It is not an insult to the authors, as this is a theme they are following, but most had the same atmosphere and dour ending that it made it hard for me to distinguish which ones stood out more overall. Brian K. Lowe contributed two stories (War of the Ruby and Shapes in the Fog) which respectively set the tone and wrap up the theme, so I will point to him for the highlights and for catching the general mood.

If I do not come across as enthused, it is only because my interest in Lovecraft is not as strong as it probably should be. This is not a slight against the stories in this style. I enjoyed them all, and found myself on the edge of my seat wondering how they would end. If you are a Lovecraft fan, you will certainly enjoy the lot. Eerie settings, doomed protagonists, and more intangible monstrosities than you can shake a dead albino supergenius at. This is a definite step up from #4 making #5 is a return to form issue.

There's also a novella by Schuyler Hernstrom. If you've ever read anything by him, then you already know what you're in for, but if not, then let me set the stage for you. A warrior has lost his love and must travel a dangerous land and consult a "sorcerer" to help get her back. But will his journey be worth the risk of a price higher than death? Suffice to say, the journey for the reader is definitely worth it.

It goes without saying that Mr. Hernstrom's story was easily my favorite in the issue. It's a good old fashioned adventure tale with excellent action and intriguing world-building. His stories are always my favorite in Cirsova, and this was no different. It's also a long one!

Unlike issue #4 where there were a handful of stories that did nothing for me (including one I outright disliked) there was nothing here that turned me away. As a full issue, this is the strongest since #3, and probably the third best overall.

Pick it up!

But we're not done yet.

Issue #6 closes off Cirsova's 2017 output with another strong entry. The first three stories in particular had me reeling. The Last Job on Harz and Death on the Moon are detective stories in space and The Battlefield of Keres is a fantasy adventure with a horror bent. The issue is worth the price for these three stories alone. They had me hooked from start to to finish and were exactly the type of tales I come to Cirsova for.

But that isn't to sell the remaining stories short. Every one of these is strong. Kurt Magus returns with another exciting Othan story and Harold. R. Thompson gives up Temple of the Beast, an adventure story with a deadly creature and a heartbreaking betrayal. And this issue even includes another Adrian Cole "Dream Lords" tale which, as you can imagine, is incredible on its own. This issue is a bounty of riches.

#6 concludes with another delicious entry in James Hutchings' My Name is John Carter epic poetry piece and a second novelette. The novelette is another delight from Abraham Strongjohn, the long awaited sequel to his story At the Feet of Neptune's Queen from issue one. This is a perfect piece to end on, coming full circle from where it started in the first release. This one was thrilling from start to finish.

Actually, the whole issue was.

Issue #6 was a pure delight from page 1 with various different styles of action tales that kept me entertained. As a whole, this is the best issue of Cirsova so far. Every story was as good as the last and is as great the magazine gets. Were you to pick up one issue of the lot, I would suggest this one.

And there you have it. Two great issues from a year that contained much fiction well worth your time. 2017 was a good year for stories, and Cirsova was a big part of it. Wonder, action, mystery, dread, and romance fill every page of these issues. The pulps are back.

You can find issue #5 here and issue #6 here.

I highly anticipate Cirsova's 2018 work. They have their work cut out for them after their last strong year!

For that, you can check out their Kickstarter here.

I'm currently writing action stories of my own. You can read one of them right now!

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