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Say... Issue 1,
was that a kiss?

The Fortress of Words

Copies can be ordered from:
The Fortress of Words
P.O. Box 1304,
Lexington, KY,

This 'zine can also be ordered from Small Beer Press, on their "other stuff" page.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Earlier this year Christopher Rowe published a 'zine called is this a cat?, an enjoyably odd collection of stories and such generally considering the title question. He now plans, it would seem, to formalize that concept just a bit, and here is the first issue of a 'zine called Say.... Each issue will be themed around a question. The question this time around is "was that a kiss?". Co-conspirators are Poetry Editor Alan Deniro, and Unsilent Partner Gwenda Bond.

This generously sized 'zine (68 pages) has an impressive list of contributors. There are 11 short stories, from the likes of Jeffrey Ford, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Jay Lake, etc.; 5 poems, including one from Rhysling winner Laurel Winter; and an essay by Terri Windling. The fiction is quite solid work -- more about that later. The poetry was OK, though not wholly to my taste -- I did like Sophie Levy's "What the Pink Book Said" quite a bit, however. Windling's essay, "Fairy-kist", opens as a brief discussion of the various somewhat ominous folkloric kisses from supernatural beings, and closes with an involving description of her own first kiss.

The two longest stories here are both quite fine. "Ohkami" by Kristin Livdahl tells of an American woman living in Tokyo, having a bit of difficulty fitting in, and a scary night out with her gay male roommate, his bi boyfriend, another chance-met male acquaintance, and a pack of what seem to be dire wolves. "Gypsy Joe" by M.L. Konett tells of the life and boxing career of the title character, who is blinded but acquires a curious friend/sparring partner at the age of six, and goes on to have a brief but successful boxing career. Also particularly notable are Chris Barzak's "Lips", a funny and sensual account of sentient lips and the heartbreak they cause; Scott Westerfeld's "The Child in Society", a stark account of a pedophile trying to satisfy his urges with a surgically altered older woman; Labalestier's "The Mark", in which a girl snatches a kiss from a mysterious man on a dare; Tim Pratt's "Unfairy Tale", a striking retelling of Sleeping Beauty from a very different point of view; and Greg van Eekhout's "Demon, Star, Alien, Cat", which is about cryogenic revival, and which wins the award for cleverest compliance with the theme of the 'zine.

I don't think there's a bad story in this 'zine -- those that I haven't mentioned are worthwhile, well-written, works. This is a fine production, and I look forward to issue #2, "What time is it?".

Copyright © 2002 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area. He writes a monthly short fiction review column for Locus. Stop by his website at

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