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Electric Spec - Volume 4, Issue 3, October 31, 2009
Edited by Betsy Dornbusch, David L. Hughes, Lesley L Smith
Cover Artist: David Ellis
Review by Sam Tomaino
Electric Spec  
Date: 25 November 2009

Links: Electric Spec / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Electric Spec Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 3, an online magazine has stories by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Ferrett Steinmetz, Dale Crothers, Erica L. Satifka, Naomi Libicki, and Peter Andrews.

Electric Spec Magazine is published three times a year, online, and has been in existence since 2005. Their circulation is about 7000 visitors a month.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is an award-winning author and "Larger Than Life" shows why. Vern is something of a sour old man who wants little contact with others except when he wants to buy some sort of collectible from them at a yard sale. One Saturday morning, while waiting for a particular sale to open, he is greeted by Magda, a woman who he has competed with in his buying for years. She offers him some cookies which turn out to be surprisingly good. Neither buy anything at the sale and wind up going back to Magda's house for lemonade and cookies. Vern leaves and things take a strange turn in this utterly delightful story.

"In the Land of the Deaf" by Ferrett Steinmetz is a chilling tale of a future in which a tune called Insane Cricket has a nasty effect on people. Once you hear it, it keeps replaying in your brain until you go insane. This started nineteen years ago and many people have died. To prevent themselves from going mad, most of the survivors have deafened themselves. Geoff is one of those that have refused to do that because the world need some people to hear like doctors, mechanics, or cops. Geoff is in that third category. Steinmetz has created a horrifying future and written a very good story about it.

"Bright Wings in the Ebony Hall" by Dale Carothers is set in a far-off land where Emesh returns home to find what he thinks is evidence that his friend Uushkof has seduced his wife Shakti by using the narcotic effects of an ivory fly. He sets off to confront his former friend and finds out that he has caused his son to leave his religious life. Even more outraged he starts his long journey, but things happen along the way. Carothers weaves many elements together to tell a truly beautiful story.

In "Copies", Erica L. Satifka tells us an unsettling tale about a road trip taken by Jack Peterson with his brother Harley. We learn that they are actually both clones but that Harley does not have a fully developed brain. As the story develops we learn more about Jack, Harley, and their "parents". This is another good story.

Naomi Libicki comes up with a new idea in "A Girl and Her Tentacle Monster". Our unnamed narrator is a hyperspace pilot who has a tentacle hyperspace monster co-pilot that she calls Ollie. Ollie protects her from the deadly type of hyperspace monster. We get to see a couple of these encounters and that makes for a fine story.

"Civil Complaint" by Peter Andrews gives us Carson O'Flaherty, a combination of "Irish convict, Greek Fisherman, Yankee whaler and Dreamtime Aborigine" who our narrator meets on a visit to Australia. We are told he had a low tolerance for complaining like most Australians and this was linked to a phrase "Enough whingeing for today." We get the idea that this is linked to complaining but learn more when Carson visits our narrator in New York City. The adventures they have make for a very enjoyable story.

On their website, Electric Spec Magazine says their "primary goal is getting great speculative fiction into the hands (or screens) of readers." They succeed admirably in that. I heartily recommend that you check them out.

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