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Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing
edited by Sandra Kasturi & Halli Villegas
ChiZine Publications, 375 pages

Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing
Sandra Kasturi & Halli Villegas
Sandra Kasturi is a poet, writer, and editor, as well as co-creator of a kids' animated TV series. Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, TransVersions, On Spec, Taddle Creek, several of the Tesseracts series, 2001: A Science Fiction Poetry Anthology, and Northern Frights 4. She is working on her first novel, a mythological noir.

Halli Villegas is a Chicana publisher and writer originally from Detroit. She has lived in Canada for twenty years. She worked for Guernica Editions for four years as an assistant editor, then left to start her own press, Tightrope Books, in 2005. To date she has published ten titles and close to fifty Canadian authors. With her own writing she has published two books of poetry and a chapbook. She is also a member of the Kiss Machine board of directors and the administrative director of the Rowers Pub Reading series.

ChiZine Website
ISFDB Bibliography: Sandra Kasturi
ISFDB Bibliography: Halli Villegas

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

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Picture this in your mind. If you got stuck on a train, or bus, or in an elevator and you had to have one book to choose from that would have to get you through the boredom, then this would be it. Crammed with short stories, poetry and longer stories that range from fantasy, horror, supernatural and science fiction, this is the sort of book you would have on your keeper shelf.

Editors Sandra Kasturi and Halli Villegas made sure that there would be something for everyone in this huge volume you could whittle down to describe it as being essential reading. Though according to Steven Erikson, who has written this book's introduction, there are many high-brow literary types who would shun the fantastic in favour or the real. In fact, many who prefer realistic fiction do not understand the myriad sub genres of horror, fantasy and science fiction as it is beyond them to understand the basics.

Contained within these pages is true escapist fiction. The real world is there in each and every story, and poem but that is only a partial setting where the fantasy, horror and science fiction element comes to life, breaking through the mundane reality to make it interesting and involving.

"Hide," by Rebecca M. Senese

For Pauline, being in with the "in crowd" is all she has ever wanted, and she has her chance to shine by playing a game of hide and seek. She ends up being it but she doesn't mind, she knows she will enjoy herself. Rebecca M. Senese sets the scene and when we aren't looking puts a not so obvious obstacle in Pauline's way. This will be a good reminder to everyone of their times playing the game, the horror element just adds to the nostalgia.

"Selected Haiku," by George Swede

Here are three short poems arranged in the haiku of different types. George Swede has successfully chosen his words well and succeeds in shocking and even amazing readers.

"Looker," by David Nickle

Two people meet at a party near the beach, and the beach seems a better option than mingling with the other guests apart from Lucy who liked having Tom around her when she felt scared by the other guests. Tom had just met her, chatted with her and seen her naked when they swam in the sea; he wondered about what brought him to the sea though, and how much he had smoked to put him in this position when he had seen her body shimmering in the night. This is the sort of story that isn't what it seems. When Tom is at Len's party, he's uninterested in the guests around him until he catches sight of Lucy. Lucy's a special girl, but there is something about her he can't fathom, and for this reason he wants to see her more. She isn't what you would call a normal girl, though for him she is a looker, but the term looker doesn't have any meaning until the end of the story. It is one that lingers on the mind, and makes you glad you aren't Tom.

"Lie Father," by Gemma Files

This is one of the longer poems in the book, and also one of the best. The idea of not mentioning the name of the god, is what makes this interesting, as anyone who has ever read about the Old Norse myths knows, this particular god was known for his sense of humour and his tricks against the other gods. Gemma Files mentions most of the chapters in their lives, Odin, Hjeimdal, Hodi and Thor, and it does make you laugh at the end.

"Through the Door," by Susan Loannu

Susan Loannu's poem is reminiscent of a child's dream with Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass as the inspiration for it. She writes of delicate inanimate objects such as a filigreed keyhole, a silver key and an hourglass and lets the words wander and does it well. The inevitable human need to see what is on the other side is noticeable in this poem.

"The List," by Kelley Armstrong

Miller's Bar isn't the typical haunt of men and women at night. This place attracts a different kind of customer, from demons to imps and many otherworldly types. They are all welcome, as is Zoe, its only vampire. Zoe teaches her protéeacute;géeacute; a lesson in stalking potential bad guys. She's tried teaching her the basics, but this time she thinks its time to put her into a dangerous situation so she can understand the need for caution when dealing with the undead or worse. Zoe proves she is a good laugh, and so do the rest of Miller's Bar, but according to Zoe she has the last laugh when she plays a trick on Rudy.

"The Candle," by Ian Rodgers

Tom asks Peggy if she has blown out the candle downstairs in the living room. She at first thinks she has, and then has doubts about her memory. As she isn't so sure of herself, she goes down to check. Her husband won't go and do it for her as he complains he has already done other tasks for her during the day. When she investigates and doesn't come back to bed, Tom goes and searches for her. This is the start of a very eerie story; the characters are well developed and show what happens when a couple reach middle-age and have long since lost the interest in their relationship.

"One Quarter Gorgon," by Helen Marshall

Familiarity with the Ancient Greek legends might be a good thing as this poem will take most people back to their school days. A gorgon has a lover, but readers don't know if it is Medusa or not. Also, the Greek she uses might need some translation, a Greek dictionary or phrase book would be handy. It's a sensual poem, full of suggestive narratives and one that encourages further reading of Helen Marshall's work.

"Hawkwood's Folly," by Timothy Reynolds

Timothy Reynolds treats readers to a steampunk style plot where a man is brought kicking and screaming to meet a man he thought he would never see again. He is called Mordecai Hawkwood, and he is one many humans are not ready to meet, let alone meet his creations. These are sophisticated automatons. Think of the Terminator but thrown into Victorian times and you will be along the right lines for this story. It is an exciting piece about how one man could introduce humanity to another race of beings created purely by him. The question is are they ready for another race, or will they be given prejudice too?

"Fur and Feathers," by Lisa L. Harnett

Ida Belle has been married for a while now and has never had children. She thinks if she doesn't conceive soon, her husband will leave her for another woman. He already has his eyes on a pretty girl who is much younger than her and it will be only a matter of time before she is cast aside. The only thing she can do is consult the resident fortune teller. She might be able to help as no one else can. As it happens, she can and Aurora has managed to get her pregnant within a short space of time with not one, but three children. As a story, it is part humour and part horror; it shows how doing something right can lead to the end result going horribly wrong.

"10 Things to Know about Staplers," by Carolyn Clink

What seems like a normal poem consisting of bullet pointed facts transforms halfway down to become the stuff of fiction. These poems have the ability to make the reader paranoid, afraid and unable to go on. This is by far the most eerie of the poems in the book purely for its bizarre outcome.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra finds this time of year awful, and likes nothing more than to read novels or stories about far off lands that are warmer than the UK. In her spare time she likes to write for Love Romance Passion, Love Vampires and Vampire Romance.


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