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Tales of the Talisman Volume 8, Issue 4
edited by David Lee Summers
Hadrosaur Productions, 101 pages

Tales of the Talisman Volume 8, Issue 4
Tales of the Talisman
Tales of the Talisman (formerly Hadrosaur Tales) is a literary journal published quarterly by Hadrosaur Productions. The format is a 90-page, perfect-bound, printed magazine. Their needs include science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories up to 6000 words and poems up to 50 lines. Detailed guidelines for preparing and sending electronic mail submissions are on their site. A submission is one short story or a packet of five (or fewer) poems.

Tales of the Talisman Website
ISFDB Bibliography

A review by Sandra Scholes

For those who have been readers of Science Fiction Trails, here is a magazine with a difference edited by Science Fiction Trails regular David Lee Summers. Marketed as "steam stories and poems," that is pretty much what the magazine contains as well as articles that focus on the theme of steampunk. In this issue, readers will find airship pirates in another world, a colony world that has steam power and airships, clockwork magic used to trap fairies and vampires in Victorian London. So, whatever your taste, there might be a story or two that grabs you.

The stories also focus on the technology level of the day in Victorian London, and in this genre's case there is also steam power and clockwork automatons. Other technology features too, not just clockwork machinery. There are dolls, automatons, robot-like people and animals, even though clockwork and steam do appear in a variety of stories, there are many ideas conjured up by some of the most interesting writers out now. From steampunk to fantasy, horror and science -- fiction for many, the Victorian age wasn't a great time to live if you were a woman, or of an ethnic background as prejudices lurked rather openly. Air pollution clouded the city, crime rates were high, a great many ordinary people were poor and lived in squalid conditions, but this doesn't have to be included in the stories to make them believable. David Lee Summers has a higher purpose in mind and the stories reflect his keen vision.

Patrick Thomas, author of Dead to Rites, Rites of Passage and his "Dear Cthulhu" column appears in several books for Dark Quest Books, gives out his best advice for two people, one a cosplayer who is into a girl called Bridesmaid. He's trying to impress her, passing himself off as a time traveller, and Peeping Thomasina who goes to buy a dirigible and a camera so she can peep on her next door neighbour.

Summers reviews some of the latest novels and e-books in the cosmos. He has six to choose from and gives fair enough criticism to them all. Tendrils and Tentacles, The Donuts of Doom by ME Brines, FishPunk by Rick Novy, Serpent Queen by JA Campbell, Dreamwielder by Garrett Calcaterra and Out of the Black Forest by FJ Bergmann.

The likes of Denise Dumars and James Webster have written some well thought-out poetry, from ballads to haiku and all have the steampunk elements in them that give the impression they are from another time where technology had started to advance even though the period was the Victorian Age.

"Automatic Heart" by Denise Dumars blends the humanity aspect with the mechanical in this particular poem. "Time Vortex" by James Webster advises that a time machine be sent back into the past, but that no one who goes there can do anything to affect the future. When he refers back to a maiden voyage, he reveals it was a great success, but Dumars leaves you wondering what happened later. "Clockwork" by Neil Weston tells the story of the Clockwork Kimono droid. She is a work of beauty and exact science that can dazzle and enchant, but people lose interest eventually. "Why the Scientist Owns a Persian Carpet" by NE Taylor suggests that if you have a carpet like this one and you have what it takes to be a scientist if you would do what he did. "Exterminator Blue" by David S Pointer shows what can happen during the American Civil War if they had used pump action laser pistols. "Canton Air Wares" by WC Roberts invites us to the radio waves where some entity warns of times yet to come.

"The Ghost of Sarah Winchester," by Gary Every

This is a Gothic tale of a woman whose husband dies and she, to avoid seeing ghosts, has her mansion adjusted so that she could not possibly see them from any corner of the house. Robbie has lost his wife, and still yearns for her, but an instant of space pirates takes his mind off of his misery. This story starts out by being normal, and brings us a natural feel-good ending to it which is unexpected.

"Lost and Found," by OM Grey

Bones and Robbie are having a discussion about the lack of research that goes into some of the old Penny Dreadful stories of Victorian times. OM Grey takes us through the kind of lives these men would have had if they spent their entire time in a dirigible seeing the same old faces, and the boredom that comes with being away from home. They aren't bored for very long however.

"Into the Wind's Teeth," by Tom Lynch

It's just another normal day in the air for the crew of the HMS Windskiff, and they need to be on their guard for any enemies that could strike at any moment. Captain Lucien Carroll soon realizes that their day will be anything but normal when they run into a disturbance that threatens their very existence. The further you read, the more the story gives its secrets away, and you get to see the crew of the HMS Windskiff fight to stay alive. There is a great feel of danger and a sense that all might not be well for the crew, but as with every story, you live in hope.

"Murder on the Feng Shui Express," by Jason Andrew

Illustrator Neil T Foster establishes this story as the picture depicts the Victorian interest in Chinese design aesthetics and philosophy. Jonathan Heller, the son of Jebbidah Heller the famed monster killer and valet Jiao share an intriguing conversation on a train, but when a murder occurs, there are only so many suspects who could have killed Mr Shihuo. There is more to this mystery than Jonathan thinks at first, and Jiao makes a perfect partner to help him solve the case. Unlike some of the stories in here there is a strong fantasy element in it that underlies the basic murder story.

I was impressed by the cover art, editorial, poetry and fiction in this magazine as it has an excellent production quality to it that shows immediately. Readers of Science Fiction Trails will enjoy this, while others who have never read it will enjoy it for its originality.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is currently posting on Twitter as @sandrareviewer and finding that there's too many people on there to chat to when she could be writing. When she has chance, she writes for The British Fantasy Society, Fantasy Book Review and Quail Bell Magazine. Magazine.

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