Electric Velocipede: Issue 10
(Spilt Milk Press, $4.00, 50 pages, magazine, published Spring 2006.)
magazine gives the impression of being a labour of love. There's a wonderful
attention to detail in the design and selection of material and a sense
of unity which can be quite rare in small press magazines.
"A Walking of Crows" by Tim Akers is a beautifully written
novelette following the fantastical journey of a boy in search of his
father's murderer. Sometimes Akers' descriptions of cluttered interiors
seem slightly overloaded and old-fashioned but there is also much to
be admired and a truly innovative torture scene. Best of all were the
crows which act as the hero's familiars and a link with his deceased
Jeffrey Ford's "The Way He Does It" invites the reader to
consider the puzzle of how, why and what a strange magician-come-contortionist-come-spiritual
icon, who is never overtly identified, does a trick, which is never
revealed but which captivates audiences. If it had been any longer,
I'd have probably lost patience but, as a short piece of well-written
fiction, this works, leaving the reader mystified but with the satisfied
feeling of having been entertained with gently mocking sleight-of-hand.
Alistair Rennie's "Il Duca Di Cesena" is initially difficult
to penetrate, given the author's esoteric fascination with period details
but the convincing first-person narrative and rather intriguing dialogue
succeeded in holding my attention long enough to appreciate the story's
"Jacket Jackson" by Richard Bowes and Mark Rich was one of
the most appealing and exciting stories in the collection for me. Set
partly in contemporary America and partly in 'Maxee, City of Lost History',
this novelette traces the journey of a leather jacket with magic properties.
Both the fantasy world of Maxee and the mundane world of the central
character, Chris, are imaginatively and precisely conceived.
"The Navel of the Universe" by Andre Oosterman, failed to
inspire me. Two tourists visit a cave in Bali which possesses strange
powers. Though well-written, the author seems to feel compelled to over-explain
whilst the ending seems oddly truncated.
The last story is my personal favourite: "Travels Along an Unfurling
Circular Path" by Robert Freeman Wexler is a dream-like journey
through a surreal landscape. The story moves from one sequence to another;
at times viscerally sinister and claustrophobic, at others acquiring
an almost farcical realism. It's one of those stories which fascinates
by never quite revealing its mystery. I often find these kind of stories
frustrating but this is so skilfully handled and well-controlled that
it provides a fitting closure for the collection.
I'm not quite sure how I come to be reviewing this magazine a year
after its publication date of Spring 2006 but, if any copies remain,
it's certainly worth getting hold of, for a confident blending of fantasy
and science fiction and a beautifully designed object.