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Electric Velocipede: Issue 10

edited by John Klima

(Spilt Milk Press, $4.00, 50 pages, magazine, published Spring 2006.)

Review by Nick Jackson

cover scanThis 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 father.

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 unexpected conclusion.

"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.

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