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TaleBones, Winter 2001
TaleBones, Winter 2001
Talebones is the quarterly in-house magazine of Fairwood Press, featuring dark science fiction and dark fantasy from established and up-and-coming writers. It is fiction with a dark slant, stories and poems with punch -- sometimes experimental or psychological, sometimes laced with black humour.

TaleBones Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Soyka

Talebones' editor team of Patrick and Honna Swenson are expecting their first child in April, which, as they explain in their Winter 2001 issue, means readers should expect a slight delay in their publication schedule. Kids cost money and, as they note, "We do have to supplement sales out of our pocket to keep the magazine coming your way, and our pockets are going to be a little emptier."

Here's my suggestion: take out a subscription to Talebones ($18 for four issues a year). Not only will you help get a quality magazine maybe stay on track with quarterly publication, you might even help contribute to the kid's college fund.

The Swensons emphasize that upcoming parenthood doesn't mean their "first born" is going to become neglected. Indeed, the current issue sports a larger typeface which makes it much more readable. Of course, what's there to read is what's most important, and there's more than a few things of interest.

To start out with, there's Tony Daniel's tribute to a famous SF curmudgeon, "Barry Malzberg Drives a Black Cadillac." Originally presented at an author reading in which Malzberg was the other writer on the ticket, Daniels says he wanted to "explain how much Malzberg meant to me as a young wannabe writer... but something which wasn't a strained 'appreciation' speech." I think he pulls it off rather nicely. And if you're not familiar with Malzberg, you're going to want to be after reading this, if only to discover why Daniel thinks the guy's license shouldn't be revoked.

"Sugar 'N Spice" is Devon Monk's pun-filled follow-up to "Nursery Crimes" (Amazing Summer 1999) in which Detective Peter Pan investigates the underworld in the city of Les Fables. I have to repeat here what I said in my review of that story -- this may be too cute for some people's taste, but I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff. As an example, here's Pan's reaction to his loyal secretary's new clothing style:

...She was a dedicated cop. Serious. Good at her job. To see her wrapped up in that dress, her lips redder than a hood, made me wonder if she's wrapped up in something else too, something bad.
    Horner came over, non-plussed. "Nice piece of tale, eh, Peter?"
    I put my peck back in my pocket where it belonged.
Moving from bawdy to the lightly erotic, Carrie Vaughn's "Silence Before Starlight" presents an astronaut seemingly seduced by an alien in the vacuum of space to remove his helmet in order to have a first contact of the sensual order. "Murmur's Law" by Jack Slay, Jr. concerns the visitation of a strange boy whose pronouncements about how humankind needs to change its ways affects not only the natural world, but the boy himself. It's a nice little metaphor on the ever-relevant issue of the power and faults of religious belief and practice.

Also in the transcendental department of "What we're better off not knowing about" is "War Machine " by James C. Glass. A short piece, but one which achieves considerable impact, in several senses of the word.

In addition to the short fiction, there's poetry by Isabel Pelech, K.S. Hardy, Kendall Evands, and Bruce Boston, an interview with Charles de Lint by Ken Rand, and various book and music reviews.

With the next issue promising the likes of William Barton, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, James Van Pelt and James Sallis, it looks as if the Swensons have a couple of forthcoming bundles of joys. Fortunately, the one intended for us readers won't require us to have to change anything.

Copyright © 2002 David Soyka

David Soyka is a former journalist and college teacher who writes the occasional short story and freelance article. He makes a living writing corporate marketing communications, which is a kind of fiction without the art.

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