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Nemonymous, #2
nemonymous, two
According to their web site:
"Nemonymous is a paying market for stories. It the first one that ever allowed anonymous email submissions beyond the point of final acceptance or rejection. Writers who are members of Veils & Piques may also ask to borrow a copy of Nemonymous Part One, before they submit a story for consideration.

The contact point for orders is

Nemonymous Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

The idea of Nemonymous is to present authors' works without the baggage that the authors' names might carry with it. Readers of all sorts, particularly science fiction readers whose genre is such a small society, bring expectations upon seeing an author's name. If the accompanying story does not match those expectations, it may have a negative effect on the reader's enjoyment of the tale. Nemonymous allows the reader to enjoy the story (or not) based on the story's own merits, with the author's name only revealed several months later in the subsequent issue.

The editor of Nemonymous, whose name does not appear in the magazine, apparently feels that a story must be dark in order to qualify as literature, for the stories selected for this issue are almost all depressing and disturbing without an optimistic tale among them.

"Climbing the Tallest Tree in the World" is a vignette about a college lark to climb a tree located on the university's grounds. As the climb progresses, it becomes a metaphor for the quest for knowledge which occurs at every university. Although not entirely successful, the story does work because the metaphor is so powerful and appropriate.

"Mighty Fine Days" is the first of several stories in the magazine which deals with isolation, in this case we are shown Harris, whose first indication that things are going wrong is when his newspaper appears completely blank to him. The eradication of information continues to expand, first to his television and later to signs, eventually affecting his own memory. There are indications that this is a problem specific to Harris, although the author does not explore why this strange thing is happening to him, nor can Harris seem to explain the situation to anyone.

Perhaps the only story to completely fit into the horror genre in Nemonymous 2 is "The Assistant to Dr. Jacob." This is the story of a man who finds himself questioned by the police about his former next door neighbor who has recently died. The narrator's main remembrances of Dr. Jacob, to whom he lived next door for two years as a child, is of visiting him and helping in his garden. As the story progresses, the actual events which the man's consciousness has suppressed begin to reveal themselves, but the real horror may be in the man's own lack of remorse.

So many of the stories in Nemonymous 2 are psychological in nature, it is interesting to take a look at the only story that specifically features of psychiatrist: "Buffet Freud." The depiction of a psychiatric patient at her therapist's birthday party, the author never really answers the patient's question about the reason behind the invitation. As with many of the stories in Nemonymous 2, "Buffet Freud" ends in ambiguity, allowing the story to mean, like a Rorschach test, anything the reader wants it to.

"Ice Age" paints a reflection of Coppard's failed marriage in the surrounding environment as the chill in his relationship of more than a decade puts a similar chill into the world he travels in, again, disassociated from everyone around him. The story ends with Coppard saying goodbye to his life with Ellen and looking to the future, and, in one of the brief glimmers of hope in the volume, the world begins to thaw.

"The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanual Escobada" could easily have been told as a Lovecraftian tale, but the author has chosen instead to write it as a factual article about a man who not only has disappeared, but whose oeuvre has also vanished, including a page of endnotes. The films of Escobada as described are interesting and reading the descriptions of the strangeness Escobada employed is enough to make someone wish his works actually did exist. To further support the story, the author refers to a (brief) website by Paolo Chedde about Emmanual Escobado, which does exist and, one must assume, was create by the anonymous author. That website points to a further website by Scott Warrick, perhaps another pseudonym for the author.

"Berenice's Journal" is a look into the mind of a deranged woman who harbors fantasies about the new tenant in her building. From the first entry, it is clear that there is something wrong with the woman, although it is only as the days and weeks progress that the reader gets a full view into her delusions and aberrant behavior. Ultimately an horror story, "Berenice's Journal" offers no indication of hope or redemption for the protagonist.

As with so many of the other stories, "Showcase" features a main character who fails to connect on any level with the other characters in the story. Her story of stalking the local movie theater and her supposed date make her appear as a mixture between the stalker of "Berenice's Journal" and someone with no self-respect. The reader questions her actual involvement in the scenario she describes, which may, in fact, be the author's intention, although if it isn't, it is ambiguous enough to leave other interpretations.

The ultimate in failure to connect with other humans is suicide, which appears to be the point of "Eyes Like Water Like Ice," in which a man gives himself over to self-immolation, more or less, during a demonstration of Eastern mystical practices. The story, briefly, looks at the way people who are disassociated from their surroundings, even if they doesn't appear to be, can turn to religious solutions, including religious extremism.

"Earthworks" is another story of isolation, although in this case a mixture of necessitated and self-imposed. The protagonist is suffering from an auto-immune disorder which does not allow her to interact with the world, which suits her temperament as she views the modern world as an invasion of technology and machines, although she is not entirely a Luddite. Despite the theme of alienation, "Earthworks" lacks the sense of despair inherent in so many of the other stories.

Yet another story in the unrelenting march of darkness which comprises Nemonymous 2 is "Striped Pajamas," about a woman coming to terms with her dead father. After checking into a hotel in the same city in which her mother lives, the narrator goes about a typical evening, only slowly letting her thoughts about her father come to the forefront of the story. The title refers to the clothing she found on her father's body and which she has appropriated for herself.

"The Drowned" is a bittersweet story of a romance in the city of Worcester, although it is more bitter than sweet. It tells the story of the meeting of two gay men who form a tight relationship despite one's infection with AIDS. The main thrust of the story, however, is their reliance on each other and the manner in which their relationship allows both of them to grow as individuals, as well as a couple. There is no secret that by the time the story was written, the relationship was over, only the manner in which the relationship ended being a question.

Walter is searching for something he can't quite put his finger on when he enters a bookstore looking for, of all things, a girl in "Adult Books." Rather than think the request odd, the strange bookshop owner tries to facilitate Walter's search in this tale of longing for something more in life. Whatever Walter is actually looking for doesn't really matter so long as he continues to look and has only the vaguest notion of what will satisfy his quest.

"Nothing" is yet another dark story, in this case of a man who is descending into depression and madness following the death of his wife and daughter in a fire. The bleak representation of a man who has lost the will to live is chilling, mixed with his delusions of methods by which he can bring his lost family back to him. The author has managed to write a story which is at once disturbing and moving and the character completes his descent into madness.

"The Secret" completely fails as a narrative, instead presenting itself as a philosophical conversation concerning the things which are important to people. On the eve of a Cotillion, the wizard Rainbow Man explains the two motivations behind all human activity to his apprentice, Muura. The majority of activities are selfish, according to the wizard with the remaining part, the important part, done only for the pleasure of the individual, actions which the wizard does not see as selfish because they are done in secret from the rest of humanity, a proposition which is debatable at best.

Perhaps the piece that works best as a story is "A Spot of Tea," set in the trenches of World War I and a tale which focuses on the healing properties of tea. In this dangerous place, the mocking of a Canadian's predilection for drinking tea instead of coffee take a turn when he demonstrates a strange ability to use tea to heal wounded soldiers. While all in his unit acknowledge the magic, the question of appropriate use of the ability does arise when the soldier is faced with the prospect of using his magic to heal the enemy as well as his comrades.

"White Dream" is a disturbing tale of a young girl who appears to be happy and well adjusted except for her yearning to die while it is snowing. Presented from the girl's point of view, there is no sense of desperation or depression, which only serves to make the story that much more disturbing. The story also seems as if it is unfinished and it would be interesting if the editor would commission the author to write a companion piece looking at the results of the girl's actions, although that may not be feasible in a magazine like Nemonymous.

"Four Minutes Thirty-Three Seconds" is five pages of blank pages. While the "author" may have just been expecting the reader to ponder why the magazine has a misprint for that length of time, the editor has done a disservice to the readership by wasting valuable magazine space. There are enough unpublished manuscripts out there that must have fit into the editorial vision for Nemonymous that, to take the opportunity away from others, leaves the reader wondering why they paid full price for a magazine which ends with several pages of scratch paper.

After finishing Nemonymous 2, I decided to spend some time associating with my wife and daughters and reminding myself how lucky I am that I am not one of those people whose story appears in this issue. Just as the authors and cover artist for Nemonymous 1 were revealed in this issue, the identities of the authors and artist for this issue will appear in Nemonymous 3.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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