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Science Fiction Trails #10

Science Fiction Trails #10
Science Fiction Trails
Science Fiction Trails can also be ordered from Barnes & Noble.com [bn.com] and amazon.com. The publisher can be contacted at:
David B. Riley
PO Box 8191
Avon CO 81620

Science Fiction Trails Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

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It has been a while since the first issue of Science Fiction Trails, the covers may have changed over the years, but the writing quality has stayed the same with authors such as; C.J. Killmer, Kit Volker, Raymond Broadbeard, Vivian Caethe and J.A. Campbell giving us some more amazing stories with which we have become so familiar. These stories come with a strong science fiction element that also borders on steampunk, and is so original it has stood the test of time so far.

Editorial
Karl's Corner

Extinction doesn't keep many species down, least of all Karl, the dinosaur sheriff. Here he discusses the finer points of being able to track his prey, and vampires, a couple of subjects that are in the forefront of people's minds today. This part of Science Fiction Trails is a fun introduction as it gives readers a break from the fiction throughout the magazine.

Clip Art Covers, Oh My!

It is a treat to look back at the original cover for the first issue of Science Fiction Trails as it gives one a sense of nostalgia. The stark image of an old steam train isn't the best image for a science fiction/Wild West magazine, but it did herald the beginning of a rather good writer/editorial team. By issue #2, new covers had been made by artist and writer Laura Givens for issue #4 whose image of a robot gunfighter is on the back cover of issue #10. Issues # 6, #7 and #9 are all good, but Issue #10 has a different cover artist, Wayne Miller whose depiction of an alien invasion is a close encounter of a very different kind.

Favourite Gunfight Stories

Everyone has their favourites and this piece of editorial gives the writers a chance to tell the readers what their faves are. From Joel Jenkins to Kit Volker, they all delight in telling us which ones make them remember the good times and why.

Fiction
"The Strongbox," by C.J. Killmer

When you decide to rob a train, take special care of what you'll be thieving, as it's essential to know what you will be dealing with. The three felons who took the strongbox really should have listened to the words of wisdom from Mulligan, the US Marshal, gave them about the big strongbox they were so eager to heft away, thinking it was in some way valuable. When they make their getaway, they want to open the strongbox but Arnold, Billy Bob and Texas Pete shouldn't attempt to open the box, not if they know what is good for them. I liked the fact that Mulligan wasn't an ordinary Marshal out to get the perpetrators; he was also a real harbinger of doom to the boys.

"The Kid," by Vivian Caethe

What do you know about Billy the Kid? The chances are you have heard about him, but according to this story, you don't know him at all. Billy visits a saloon where the bartender is a woman who likes to hear her customers tell stories, and she is sure Billy has a tale to tell, and she's right. He tells her the real story of him and Garrett, and it isn't what you would think. This proves Vivian Caethe's writing skill as a writer to give a different account of what happened and make it futuristic enough to be believable, and enjoyable without using techno babble.

"The Day Death Wore Boots," by Dorothy Davies

When someone goes into an antique shop and sees a whole Western Town that's in a window next to a sign saying DISPLAY ONLY, he knows he wants it badly. He has never seen such a display and it's all in good working order too. When he asks to buy it off the shop's owner, he tries to put him off, saying that when he sells it, it keeps being brought back, and with a new addition he's never seen before or liked. This doesn't deter the customer; he buys the Western Town and takes it home with him to display it with pride. Within the same day, things start to happen, someone in the town talks to him, and he thinks he is going mad. This is a firm favourite of mine and concerns only the buyer and the men in his newly bought town. It is well written with some of the funniest dialogue I've heard in a while.

"Brown vs. The Martians," by J.A. Campbell

Elliot and his faithful friend, Brown see what they think is a shooting star fall from the sky, but when they get closer to it, they notice it's actually a fallen space craft that Elliot refers to as a flying cow pie. Elliot finds a young woman who looks injured inside the craft, sees she isn't from around there, helps get her to safety and patches her up until she wakes. Once they have done this, they find they are caught up in a whole lot of trouble with the Martians. I liked the reference to cow pie, and the way Elliot tried to pass Asa and Seija off as Canadians.

"The Chinese Policeman," by John Howard

Before you start shouting at someone, be sure you know who you are talking to, or he might be your doom. In this story's case mild-mannered Hop Sing has come into town for a quiet drink of coffee at a saloon in Wyoming. As we all know, Wyoming isn't the warmest place on Earth, so Hop Sing tries to make the best of his stay, even if another drinker doesn't like him being there.

"Tincture of Opium with Butter on That," by Kit Volker

All Edna wants is a bottle of her favourite laudanum, but she can't get it anywhere, not even from the Chinamen she is often heard talking about on her travels. She doesn't like them much but she has no idea of what they might think of her either. She mumbles on about the Chinamen all the time, and mentions that there have been more and more of them coming to the US, and wouldn't be surprised if the towns and villages would be covered with them. Edna is a serious xenophobic type who doesn't change her opinions of other races especially the Chinese, but she finds she might get to like the Martians.

"The Automaton Who Ate Lead," by Henrik Ramsager

Potbury's appointment is with Seven and they don't seem to get along once they get into deep and meaningful conversation, yet Seven needs him, especially when he expresses an interest in a woman he has been looking after, Miss Henrietta. He is a man who is used to getting what he wants, and has a tendency to want what he can't have, such is the reason he is interested in her. He admits she would be a very pretty addition to his airship, the Azincourt, he is more interested in the other item Potbury has to show him. This is a nice change from the other stories in this magazine, there is a touch of romance I found endearing, but the steampunk element comes through well.

"The Legend of Smoke Ren and the Metal Man," by R.A. Conine

Cloud City, Colorado is the setting for R.A. Conine's story this time around -- it takes a lot of guts to take out a man who threatens the peace of Cloud City, but "Smoke" Ross took care of a problem bully and drunk, Pike, earning him the nickname, as well as much backslapping and free drinks from his friends. The further this story goes, the more we learn the truth of what happened way back, and the reasons for what "Smoke" did. It has a detailed feel to it, and the setting is opulent as you would expect from a tale that takes place in Cloud City.

"Range War," by Raymond Broadbeard

Joseph has to sort out the problem he has with this dead father and a load of rotting sheep that are taking up space on his father's range. If he can't do this, he knows he will be in some serious trouble as he will have to explain what has happened to his mother when she gets back. This is a story that has a moral message to it that can be interpreted as rough justice.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has written for several fantasy, horror and science-fiction magazines and websites including; The British Fantasy Society, Fantasy Book Review , Active Anime and Love Romance Passion.


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