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Bull Spec, #6, Autumn 2011

Bull Spec, #6, Autumn 2011
Bull Spec
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

Bull Spec: A Magazine of Speculative Fiction #6 has all the features the reader needs to get into during the weekend when they are ready to let their hair down. Mur Lafferty reviews "The Wolf Tree," by John Claude Bemis, with an interview conducted by Don Campbell with the author and, at five pages, it is very in depth and gives enough of an idea to readers of what kind of writer he is. There are a good number of short stories, some shorter than others, and yet have very powerful endings.

"Fadeout," by Amber D. Sistla

Gregory Hayden is worried about his son; he hardly talks to him anymore or sees him at meal times. He might be going through a difficult period in his teenage life; his mother is absent, and other things are making life around him tough too. Nathan, his son, is into art, and one artist in particular takes his fancy as he paints with fadeout paint and, with it, he can do the most incredible things. Nathan has all his art on his bedroom wall, and wants to go to see one of Selay's exhibitions, but that doesn't get his dad talking about it with any interest. Amber D. Sistla's story makes the reader realize that one man has only so long to live and make a life for himself with his son, who is his only tie to the past where his wife was alive and all was well. It has an interesting, yet sad ending.

"Selling Home," by Tina Connolly

Now it's back to sci-fi territory with Tina Connolly's new story. Penny takes her baby brother out for a day to go look for some scrap material, but comes into contact with cops who are troublesome and remind her that she is a nobody, a girl who has to sell scrap for a living. Penny doesn't want to be like this forever, she dreams of being able to get enough cash together to go up several levels of the building she lives in. If she can do that, she can start to live the good life, but it's so far away for her at the moment and all she can do is dream.

Readers will get the feel of what it would be like in the future for people living in the slums needing hope with the daily dose of real life survival.

"The Long Lives of Heroes Part 2", by Jeremy Whiteley and illustrated by Jason Strutz

This is four pages of graphic fun with the crew of the Ares, and their lives on ship. In this part, the readers will get a great insight into what the crew really think versus what they tell others in person. It looks raw and sketchy in places, though in other panels the characters are more fleshed out. It's not perfect for a reason, life in space is rough and the people are fraught with turmoil at being so far away from home for long periods of time.

This comic is more about how they cope under stress and bad conditions more than anything else.

"Less Than Absent," by Kenneth Schneyer

Walker and Melissa check out a surveillance device that is supposed to take an accurate reading of how many people are in a room at any given time. Kenneth Schneyer's tale is a short one, but it's of a drop in time that is there one minute and not the next. I liked the sci-fi feel it had, and the very real threat it showed. It had a strange feel to it all the way through.

"We Don't Do Quests," by Dale Mettam

Sandar and his best buddy, Grau, a dwarf who likes jewels, are hanging around waiting for a hooded man who has a job for him to do. Sandar sets out by telling him what he doesn't do right up until the man actually lays out what he wants out of them. Dale Mettam's story can be interpreted as a mish-mash of general fantasy bestsellers, it's good to identify them as you read -- and the comedy that comes across is good natured as you can get. The artwork by Rickard Case makes Sandar look like Han Solo chatting to Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, but there's no cantina. Sandar and Grau make a great double act in a fantasy universe that is not far from DragonLance or Hobbiton -- read it, it's well written, constructed and executed, oh, and it's laugh a minute too.

"Perchance," by Stuart Jaffe

Cassie has not slept for such a long time, her reason, her husband who grunts, snores and moves about in bed all the time. She wishes she could get at least an hour's sleep, but the likelihood of that is slim to never around him. One night she leaves his side to go downstairs. When she does she gets a little quiet rest in between hearing his grunts and snores upstairs. She doesn't sleep, but thinks on her life with her husband and her friends. She never even considered not sleeping but when she got married, she couldn't sleep at all, and it annoys her -- she has to work long hours and it's drudgery she wishes she could do awake instead of in a daze. Stuart Jaffe's story starts out normal until she gets downstairs. Then the whole thing becomes an impressive work of fantasy with an unusual, yet pleasing ending -- at least for Cassie.

In Bull Spec: A Magazine of Speculative Fiction #6 there is a rich mixture of fantasy, science fiction and alternative fiction weaved around some interesting and thought provoking articles and reviews, and thankfully very few adverts. Readers of many of the magazines I review will find this one just as engaging.

Copyright © 2011 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes is starting to feel that fall weather has gone completely, and the chill wind of winter is already here and here to stay, but there is a bonus -- she can stay in a lot of the time and review for such magazines and websites as Quail Bell magazine, Love Romance Passion, and Active Anime.

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