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Science Fiction Trails #11

Science Fiction Trails #11
Science Fiction Trails
Science Fiction Trails can also be ordered from Barnes & [] and The publisher can be contacted at:
David B. Riley
PO Box 8191
Avon CO 81620

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

It's soon got to an eleventh issue and Editor David B. Riley has been kept busy with the new stories his regular writers have sent him. In fact, Riley has been extremely busy over the past few years with several publications; Steampunk Trails, a sister publication to Science Fiction Trails, Gunslingers & Ghost Stories and Low Noon. Here the Martians are making a sneak appearance once again (they can't keep away, can they?) an evolution story and a Native American warrior who gets to hear more about parallel universes. With stories from C.J. Killmer, Sam Knight, Henrik Ramsager, J.A. Campbell, Lyn McConchie, R.A. Conine, Jackson Kuhl and an article by David Lee Summers who is another of SFT's regulars.

"Paradigm Lost: Episode 1 of The Chronicles of Red Blade," by R.A. Conine

Spotted Eagle, Luta Mila or Red Blade was a member of the Long Knives, a secret society branch of the Strong Heart Clan. After dying in battle, Red Blade thinks he has ended up in some kind of limbo world until he meets a white man named Julius Voorhees. He doesn't trust him from the moment he sees him, but what he tells him will open his eyes. Red Blade knows about the Christian beliefs of death, that there are two places the dead can go, but only one place they can be alive. He has the chance to question this notion more as he talks to him.

"Karl's Corner," by Karl, the Dinosaur Sheriff

You wouldn't think a dinosaur had much to talk about, but Karl the Dinosaur Sheriff has. Here in this 11th issue he talks about fossilized remains, essentially those of his friends during the Cretaceous period.

"Red River," by Jackson Kuhl

After spores had been released on Earth that were originally from man, strange things start to occur where plants grow larger than they should as do fungi and animals, etc. The reasons for it are the infamous red weed that had come from the spores. No one knows if it was by accident or intentional to let the red weed run rampant in each and every country in the known world. To make sure the people understand what is happening, Kuhl gives an account of what went on with the red weed in Mississippi. Mr. Steever's trial tells us about the alien invasion of Martians on Earth, or more specifically the Red River. Steever's annoyance of men being drafted into the army to fight the Martians is sure to cause rebellion as it would be left up to the women to fight for their land once the invaders they came. This is a tale told using the facts that are available. There are two sides, but a sense of justice and acting independently might be the way forward, at least for Steever.

"Such A Cute Puppy," by Lyn McConchie

For a long while, Elizabeth Richards or Liz as she's called has been having trouble with rustlers on her ranch. Being the widow of Jeremiah Richards, she is a woman alone in the middle of nowhere with only a few ranch hands working for her. To make matters worse, next door she has Marty Spence, who has more ranch hands, cattle and acres of land than her and when her cattle start to go missing she can't help but suspect Spence of being responsible. Proving it is another thing entirely though. When Liz thinks she's nearly lost everything, she spots a puppy while out and about outside her ranch and adopts him. Soon she realises that adopting Max was a good idea when one of Spence's ranch hands are caught stealing her cattle.

"The Martian Menace of 1897," by J.A, Campbell

De and Luke Tolbert are from the Department of Uncanny Affairs and get sent back in time to right certain events in history. In this story, a case for the Department of Uncanny Affairs the two of them get help tracking down an alien vessel they think might be in great danger, according to an artist's impression a cigar-shaped craft that has been seen at certain times. They thought it might be Martian, yet when it is seen again in Nevada; no threat from it was detected, so they assume it might be a different race. The fact remains that the craft still could be Martian, but it could also be some other race and De and Luke make a great team in this story, and so do the aliens. Be prepared for a real twist.

""Working the Salt Mines," by Sam Knight

Swoop has been mining for ages and never managed to find a thing worth selling in town. One day a piece of rock dirt gets into his eyes and he staggers outside where he sees his salt has been stolen. He wonders who would do such a thing when he meets the culprit, an alien. When he notices the alien is distressed as it has its leg stuck in a rock, he helps him, handing him the remaining salt and asks if he can trade it for anything he has. Swoop is amazed when the alien pulls out a gold nugget and realises one thing, does he have any more. This is one of the really good stories in this magazine and I am glad it was chosen as the ending left me with a huge smile on my face.

"Underhanded," by C.J. Killmer

We've had the Department of Uncanny Affairs and now there's the Paranormal Affairs Department where Mulligan is a U.S. Marshall. Lefty and Myers meet him on business as an incident had happened when a situation caused him to kill what he thought was a man gone crazy when it turned out to be a man infected by an alien parasite -- the parasite is about to be transported by one but they know where it is. They plan to take it back East to a lab that will test it out, but there are those who want to steal it from them to use for themselves. This is a tale of intrigue and mystery with an ending that is unpredictable, much like the characters.

"The Evolutionizer," by Henrik Ramsager

When Mr. Wilcox, a respectable lawyer knocks at Mrs. Broadhurst's residence of ill-repute for the more aristocratic male, insisting to see Henrietta, Mrs. Broadhurst wants to know why. It's bad news for her though as he refuses to let her know why -- she on the other hand is adamant that if she doesn't get to hear about the nature of Wilcox's business, he can't possibly come in and see Henrietta as she is in charge of her welfare. When she discovers what the reason is for his arrival, the story takes an interesting turn. This is the wildcard in the magazine -- even I wasn't prepared for what was to come.

"The Great Wild West Writing Challenge."

As a way of getting some interesting and challenging tales out of some of the finest writers in this magazine, the theme is gunfight stories with a word count of 300 words or less. Needless to say such writers as Joel Jenkins, John Howard, Sam Knight, J.A. Campbell, Sam Kepfield, David Boop and C.J. Killmer prove they can do it even at such a short length. #11 Science Fiction Trails #11 has a nice collection of alien and alien tech themes in its stories. While the majority are long, there is definitely room for some short and sweet ones at the back of the magazine. For me, the best ones were: "Such a Cute Puppy," by Lyn McConchie, "Working the Salt Mines," by Sam Knight, "Red River," by Jackson Kuhl and "The Evolutioniser," by Henrik Ramsager.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is a review writer for The British Fantasy Society, Love Romance Passion, Diverse Japan, Rainbow Book Reviews, Albedo One and Hellnotes.

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