Uncanny Magazine #13 (emag review).

November 8, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Uncanny’ is a magazine of fantasy and Science Fiction that also features author interviews and non-fiction essays. Fiction first then.

uncannymag13

‘Don’t You Worry, You Aliens’ by Paul Cornell has no aliens, no plot, no conflict and no point. It’s a description of a man in a town by himself because everyone else has left. We don’t know why. Usually, when I get to the last page of this kind of thing, and realise that’s all, I throw the magazine across the room. You can’t do this with a kindle. Well, you can but it gets expensive.

‘Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies’ by Brooke Bolander is not a traditional narrative neither but works. It’s told in the first person by a creature with the abilities mentioned in the title who has taken human form and becomes the victim of a killer. I must say I completely agree with the opening rant about the glorification of serial killers in modern drama. Hannibal Lecter was all right in small doses but now every television crime show features blood, gore and a psychopath and it all unfolds with glacial, Scandinavian slowness. My girlfriend and I prefer ‘Poirot’, thank you very much. ‘Dangerous Davies’ is good, too, and ‘Pie In The Sky’. We sleep well.

Kamanti is pregnant and her husband, Lemu, has gone off in a war party with her father to stop the invading ‘hoomans‘. She can mindspeak with the baby in her womb, which is nice. Ho hum, I thought, another yarn about lovely, helpless, innocent primitive people in huts being massacred by evil imperialist us. Happily, ‘Kamanti’s Child’ by Jennifer Marie Brissett had a background, slowly revealed, that didn’t fit this hokey old pattern. Kamanti flees for her life and is helped by a human girl. Pretty darn good and the author is interviewed in this month’s issue.

As is Alex Bledsoe, writer of ‘White Hart, Black Knight’, starring Eddie LaCrosse who features in some of his novels. Eddie is a sort of hard-boiled sword for hire, operating in mediaeval fantasy land. His mate, the Queen, sees a white hart and sends the rather green Sir Bryce, her young knightly nephew, after it, with Eddie to baby sit him and to bring back its head. Again, the beginning doesn’t prepare you for what follows as the scenario points to a comic tale but it all gets a bit tragic. Bledsoe’s prose is easy reading and the surprise twists in the story work well. He admits that he changed some characters from male to female when rewriting the work. This is a good tactic to get into ‘Uncanny Magazine’.

Another green knight appears in ‘The Green Knight’s Wife’ by Kat Howard. He gives people a chance to cut his head off with the proviso that he can try to cut theirs off after. They end up dead. Many daring men are willing to take the challenge. His wife is a bit tired of it all and takes action.

In ‘Can’t Beat ‘Em’ by Nalo Hopkinson, Marisella has the plumber round to sort out the drains. There are organisms that seems to be immortal getting into people‘s pipes and blocking them. Like even the weariest river, most of them wind up somewhere safely sea but still survive. Good surprise ending.

This month’s reprinted tale is ‘Seasons Of Glass And Iron’ by Ama El-Mohtar from the Saga Press 2016 anthology ‘The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales’. Tabitha walks the world for she has to wear down seven pairs of iron shoes. Amira sits atop a glass hill while suitors try to climb it to get to her. They all slide back down but Tabitha’s magic shoes get her there. The ladies become acquainted and tell each other their stories. It’s a charming tale but it occurred to me, as I finished this last piece of fiction, that nearly all the men in this issue of ‘Uncanny Magazine’ have been either rapists, failures, stupid or cruel.

The non-fiction in ‘Uncanny Magazine’ usually consists of essays complaining about the lack of one-legged Mexican lesbian heroes in films because of the white Anglo-Saxon phallocentric conspiracy that controls the media or about how difficult it is to be a ‘Star Wars’ fan if you have a big nose. But sometimes there is good stuff. Ken Liu, no mean writer himself, is doing great work translating Chinese Science Fiction for English readers. Here he translates a piece by Hugo nominee Hao Jingfang. Oddly, for ‘Uncanny Magazine’, this is not a long whine about how hard it is being Hao Jingfang but an interesting essay about his work in the field of  economic inequality which he considers far more important than Science Fiction. He’s indubitably right.

‘How the Avengers Killed The Justice League’ by Tansy Rayner Roberts is a pretty accurate description of what Marvel did right with movies, how they went wrong and how DC Warner is getting it very wrong indeed by going all dark and gloomy. As with Brooke Bolander’s rant about TV crime shows, I’m inclined to agree. Super-heroes should be fun. A surfeit of ‘Pollyanna’ would make one sick but that doesn’t mean every film has to be full of torture, cruelty and misery. Surely the essays in ‘Uncanny Magazine’ demonstrate that life is hard enough for some people to cope with. Making entertainment universally bleak is neither necessary nor useful to society. Furthermore, a film the kids can watch makes twice as much at the box office, a lesson Disney learned long ago and they now own Marvel.

‘Uncanny Magazine’ won’t be to everyone’s taste but it is interesting.

Eamonn Murphy

November 2016

(pub: Uncanny Magazine. Black & white Kindle edition. Price: £2.61 (UK). ASIN: B017AT4OFU)

check out websites: http://uncannymagazine.com/ and  http://uncannymagazine.com/issues/uncanny-magazine-issue-thirteen

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Category: Fantasy, Magazines, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy lives in the west country and grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, lots of other old SF and Marvel Comics. After many years hard labour he has settled down to a quiet life with a nice lady, two rescue dogs and four ducks. He writes reviews for crowsnest and a few short stories, some of which even get published in obscure magazines. His self-published (Beware!) horror novel 'Arnos Hell' set in a Bristol graveyard is available on Amazon as a kindle book. His YA novelette 'The Brigstowe Dragons' will be published shortly by Alban Lake. He seldom blogs at https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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