Curiosities Issue #5
Edited by Kevin Frost
reviewed by Brian James Lewis
This is a great time to be a fan of speculative fiction! A big reason for that is the many cool independent publications that have really raised the bar for what to expect in exchange for your hard-earned cash. Curiosities is certainly one of them! The paperback edition is a thing of beauty with amazing cover art of the airships that appear in Lady with a Thousand Teeth by George Edwards Murray. I also like the highly detailed title page, along with the woodcut accents that end each story. The choice of Tudor Perpendicular font for the story titles is also a delight and gives one the feeling of time travel. But enough about the outside, let’s see what’s inside!
The first story is All She Needs by the magical Madeleine Swann. It is a tragic tale told by the maid of a formerly very ritzy home. Little Miss is a 1920’s era flapper with a grotesque secret that some people find very attractive under the right circumstances. Maid Gladys is perhaps the only true friend the young woman has. She believes that she’s doing the right thing by hiding the young woman away. But is she really? A great story that echoes Swann’s love of flappers and the jazz age!
I also really enjoyed the interview with Madeleine Swann by Andrew McCurdy that’s also included in this issue of Curiosities. In it, there’s discussion of the author’s love of the 1920’s and 1960’s, hence her fusion look of “psychedelic flapper!” They also talked about Swann’s book Fortune Box , a collection of interconnected short stories about a mysterious company that delivers packages throughout the city with very mixed results. Her love of Bizarro and Weird writing, along with a short list including some of her favorite authors was great to read about as well. Fun and informative stuff! Madeleine Swann can be found on Twitter @MadeleineSwann and on her site http://madeleineswann.wordpress.com
Speaking of the jazz age, make sure to check out Samantha Lee’s short story Take Five. A musician by the name of Zoot, eases himself into a very cool club and enjoys digging a hot jazz band. When he meets the owner of the club, things start getting kind of funky, but Zoot can’t resist the chance to sit in with such a great band. It’s then that he realizes that what he thinks is wonderful, might not truly be so. Just when he thought he’d reached his desired destination, too! Well, the Devil is a trickster.
Once again, I find myself reading another excellent short story by Gary Buller! His contribution to Curiosities number 5 is A Light In The Darkness. A poor lonely hiker gets lost when he’s forced to make a journey without his usual companion. Luckily, he finds an inn just as he was giving up hope. Not many of us would fancy the name of the place, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least it’s warm and dry inside The Snake Inn. Still, something is off about the place and the weary traveler suspects foul play. He starts poking about and makes a frightening discovery, but will he live to tell anyone about it? Gary Buller is a very prolific author and a friendly guy. Be sure and look him up on Twitter @garybuller. Check out his special project Mechanisms of Despair and find out how you can make a difference!
Barbed Wire Fence by Santiago Eximeno is a short, but very intense piece about war. How far will a country go to win? It’s one thing to give your armed forces the best weapons possible, but how far can people be modified before they stop being true humans? I could feel the cold rain and smell the fear in this story.
Last, but certainly not least, is the story that appears to have inspired the cover art. Lady with a Thousand Teeth by George Edwards Murray. When I started reading this, I had an entirely different vision in my head. So when I saw the lady, I was blown away. There’s a lot going on in this steampunk apocalyptic tale that mirrors the machinations of war into a gypsy caravan tent. Narrated by a scholar, who’s out of work, this piece steadily moves forward until there’s no place to hide.
All in all, Curiosities issue 5 is a FIVE STAR experience that I heartily encourage lovers of speculative fiction to check out! Also for parents, or those who prefer a style of horror aimed at thinking folks-this collection is for YOU. There’s not a lot of blood or profanity to be offended by, but there is 100% pure entertainment that will keep you happy for hours. Get a copy today! You’ll be glad you did! Available from Amazon.com and your favorite booksellers.