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Twilight Tales: Dangerous Dames
edited by Tina L. Jens
11th Hour Productions, 52 pages

Twilight Tales: Dangerous Dames
Twilight Tales
Twilight Tales: The Reading Series is a weekly event held at the Red Lion Pub across from the infamous Biograph Theatre in Chicago. Writers from the greater Chicago area and periodic visitors from away take to the stage every Monday night at 8PM spotlighting both published and unpublished authors of all genres. In 1998, they began a series of illustrated chapbooks. Many of the stories made their public debut at the reading series, some in the form of first drafts or works in progress. You can find ordering information and prices on the website.

Twilight Tales: The Reading Series Website
Tina L. Jens Website
SF Site Review: Twilight Tales: Tales of Forbidden Passion

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

Dangerous Dames starts out with an interesting twist. Listed on two dedication pages are the names of whom they consider dangerous dames. I began to browse it and found myself caught up with reading it. It was fascinating to see whether I'd agree with any or all of them. There were a few strangers, but for the most part, I paused, gave it some thought and said, yeah, I could see why that name was there. When you pick up a copy, give it a try. It'll be worthwhile.

In her introduction, "A Word of Warning," about what makes a woman dangerous, Pam Keesey concludes with: "And never, ever, take a woman for granted." To that all I can say is... you betcha.

I read a lot, too much some might say. There are some things I pass on, though. One of them is poetry. I suspect I got burned in high school with the painful memorizing and wrenching public speaking of meaningless (to me) stuff that are likely classics. It is a rare poem that I'll read through. I didn't find any here. Apologies to Jennifer O'Hara who wrote "Prayer to Kali-Ma, My Divine Accomplice," Carol Gloor who did "Empty Nest," Viki S. Rollins whose poem is titled "Hecate," Pamela Miller, the author of "Marie Writes a Letter to Her Husband Just Before She Finally Leaves the Womanizing Jerk" and Valerie Deering who penned "Some."

Another thing I tend to avoid is fiction written in either the second person or first person plural or those done in the present tense. I know there are times when it makes sense for an author to use these techniques. And, sure, I've come across it a few times here and there in a novel. Sometimes I didn't even notice or, by the time I did, I was almost through the passage. I just ignored it, if the story had me in its grip. But "My Last First Date" by Whitney Scott uses all three. Geez, I can't even read the letters in Penthouse Forum written like this.

Sounds pretty dire so far, eh? Was there anything in this chapbook that makes it worthwhile? Yes, there is. Tina L. Jens wrote "Death Gets a Make Over" and I can't say enough about it. She turns archetypes on their head, she grabs some usual fantasy tropes and wrings their little necks. It should appear in a boatload of fantasy/horror anthologies. My single piece of advice to the author is to change the title.

Lynda Licina's story is "Something I Can Never Have" which can be best termed a cute little vampire tale that'll make you swear off answering ads in the personals. You never know who you'll meet, but it turns out to be a great way for a vamp to cover her tracks when she's feeling peckish. As an added bonus for our heroine, there is a family reunion of sorts.

Viki S. Rollins' "Safe at Home" had me squirming from the git-go. I reiterate Pam Keesey's warning above. Some men never learn. You shouldn't fool around on her. If you do, you'll suffer the consequences and think, yep, sometimes death is better than suffering under a vengeful woman.

Phillipa Altgeld was a prodigy. Subscribers to her newsletter in 2080 lauded her as the best. One day her sister returned to Earth to give her eulogy. Thus begins Pamela Hodgson's story "Returned Mail from EALTGELD." It provides us with the what and the how of Phillipa's last column and ultimate death but not with the why. Science fiction and horror are a powerful pairing in her hands -- aching and beautiful prose.

The last piece in the chapbook is a parable, Andrea Dubnick's "The Tale of Princess Sophia." It is told with two endings -- I prefer the latter. In a patriarchy, a princess who deserves to succeed her father (the king) cannot due to the laws of the land. He turns down her request offering her some alternatives but she leaves, never to be seen again. Rumours abound and two are given credence: one from an old egg-woman and the other from a bard who came over the mountain.

So all in all, this chapbook contains some terrific fiction. You should get a copy and settle in for some vivid prose and delightful characters. Who knows, maybe you can tell me whether I should have tried to make it through the poetry.

Copyright © 1999 by Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time."

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