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Science Fiction Trails #9: All Martian Spectacular

Science Fiction Trails #9
Science Fiction Trails
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

Science Fiction Trails is already into its eighth issue and this one is titled the All Martian Spectacular. It has the bonus of being separate from the previous ones, as its speciality is Martians featured in one way or another. Being set in the 1800s, the attitudes towards aliens were different. H.G. Wells wrote his novel about Martians attacking Earth, and many believed there were beings and life on other planets, especially Mars, so this series of stories can be considered true to their period. Though with a little help from some Martians, and amazing technology, we knew not all Martians were friendly, but there are all different kinds of aliens in this issue. Some are funny, others are strange, but one thing is sure, they are all well written.

"A Day Out Shopping," by Lyn McConchie

Miss De Shallee only wanted to go out for a spot of shopping, and a day out is what women like most -- they love nothing more than to shop for clothes and jewellery, but she wants a specific book, and gets embroiled in a gang's protection racket. There is only one book she desires, but she is told she will have to pay a great deal more than she wanted to. It depends how much she needs the book, but what Ramon Ortega doesn't know is that she does want it, and she definitely won't be paying the price he is asking. It starts out subtle at first, though it isn't until later when you know who De Shallee that the whole plot becomes significant.

"The Vanishing City," by Joel Jenkins

For Lone Crow it's just one normal day out until the Grimm brothers decided to pay him and Six-Gun Susannah a visit. As Lone Crow had supposedly killed a doctor, a bounty had been put on his head and Finn has come to take him in and claim his reward. Lone Crow doesn't want to leave without giving him some friendly advice and a pouch full of diamonds if he will leave him alone, but greed does bad things to folk, and Finn wants to know where he got those diamonds. The location isn't the sort of place they want to go but, with steampunk style stories, you never know where it will lead. Joel Jenkins does well with luring Finn and his brother into a false sense of security.

"Go West, Young Martian, Go West," by Laura Givens

What if the aliens had landed? What would become of them and the humans? This is the after effects of what could have been an invasion. The difference is the aliens have had no interest in invading the humans; they are benign, friendly even. Laura Givens takes us through the events of having aliens living on Earth, but more from the point of those living in the American West. I like the names she has given the aliens, as they are funny when they shouldn't be.

"The Most Distinguished Visitors," by John Howard

We've had aliens landing on Earth, but now we have humans who have found the capability to fly a spaceship -- now that they have landed on Mars, the fun can begin, and their first Prime Margoth handles it depending upon his leadership as an alien of some repute. As aliens in previous stories have been cocky and insensitive to the human's needs, it is time for the humans to settle the score. John Howard injects some good natured humour into his tale of cat and mouse strategy that isn't for the faint of heart.

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

As always, Karl's page is ever funny and creates a gap between all the serious stories. We need to see more of Karl and his thoughts on life and the unusual.

"Private Sitting," by Kit Volker

Molly is an artist, and was lucky if she could sell her paintings to anyone who would give a damn. One day she gets a mystery man at her studio, who wants a painting done of him. But he is no ordinary man, and that is what makes him the perfect artist's model. He doesn't move when he poses for her, and he provides some amount of difficulty for her as his eyes are hard to paint. Molly finds she is in her element with his sitting there, poised and with striking features. Aunt Edna proves to be a dark horse throughout the story, and the ending raises more than just a chuckle.

"Commodities of Nature," by David Lee Summers

Mars is the subject of this story as well, and when one man, Roscoe Bullard gets his inspiration from Professor Percival Corelli's plans for the red planet for his canal network, he would let others have the water for a fee after sorting out the pumping stations, but not everyone likes the set up he has planned -- certainly not the Indians of Isleta Pueblo. David Lee Summers through example shows what could happen if Roscoe decided to force the Indians to agree to his terms while he uses their water for profit. It can act as a parable of truth or a cautionary tale. Either way, it's one of great interest.

These are only a few of the stories in this issue of Science Fiction Trails. All the favourite names are here including; Lyn McConchie, Kit Volker, Lou Antonelli, Sam Kepfield, Joel Jenkins, and David Lee Summers. Some are serious, some comedic, but they are all well-written and make you want to go back and read more.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra has had her pithy and comical articles and reviews published in such fun magazines as The British Fantasy Society and Fantasy Book Review.

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