Talebones #39 - Winter 2009
Edited by Patrick Swenson
Review by Sam Tomaino
Talebones ISBN/ITEM#: 1084-7197
Date: 26 November 2009
Links: Talebones / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The Winter 2009 issue of Talebones is here and will, alas, be the last one. Editor Patrick Swenson has put a very good issue to go out on.
In the introduction to "The Book of Daniel" by Carrie Vaughn, we are told that this story is referred to in Vaughn's second novel, Kitty Goes to Washington and is the version "of Daniel in the Lion's Den that lycanthropes tell in Kitty's world." This was a different version of Daniel in the court of King Darius than what we might be familiar with but was quite delightful.
Cat Rambo's "Legends of the Gone" is something quite different. It's set in Redmond, Washington in 2037. Twenty years before, on November 14, 2017 at 7:07 PST, the world had changed. The vast majority of the people of Earth had vanished. Estimates were that maybe 1 in 10,000 (or maybe even less) were left. No children had been born since then. Theories that it was the Christian Rapture died when Christians were amongst those left behind. Society had collapsed and there was no central government. In this setting, our narrator lives his life, day to day, a life made more bearable with Celeste, his lover. Many have ended their lives prematurely and there will come a time when no one is left. Rambo has written a touching story.
In the introduction to "The Snow-White Heart" by Marie Brennan, we are told this is one in a series of dark versions of classic fairy tales. This is brief but quite effective and succeeds well as a different version than the one we have heard.
In "Three Chords & the Truth" by John A. Pitts, Ethan is a musician who entertains crowds with his guitar. Sometimes, he is inspired to write his own music. He meets a fellow musician named Susan but is obsessed with another woman named Kari. All this comes together for a beautiful tale of love and inspiration.
"Safe, Child, Safe" by Aliette de Bodard is not sent in China, as many of her stories are, but in ancient Mexico, under the Aztecs. In the introduction, we are told that the lead character has appeared in other stories. Acatl is a priest for the Dead who is visited by a soldier of the empire. He brings his four-year old son who is deathly ill. Acatl realizes he is the victim of a curse and goes to the soldier's home to determine the source. The author makes this more than just a battle with the supernatural and this takes its place with her other stories which I have enjoyed greatly.
"Fiddler" by Jason D. Whitman is a fine two-pager about Angelica, a fiddler with a special power. She plays by the beds of the dying and summons those that would take them away. One day, she is asked to do that service for the king and performs it admirably. But things take a bad turn and she learns more of her power.
In "Somebody Else" by Patricia Russo, Joan is annoyed, one day, at work by a co-worker named Ivy who insists she saw her downtown the day before "making those quick things." Joan has no idea what she's talking about and forthrightly denies it. Ivy is not persuaded otherwise. All this leads to another well-written story.
Don D'Ammassa's "Funeral Party" features Travis and Devlin, who have been featured before in "Diplomatic Relations" in Talebones #33. Travis is the captain of a small spaceship called the Trillia and Devlin is a schemer who always seems to rope Travis into things that do not go well. Travis meets Davlin on Caledon and Devlin convinces him that he can make some money by helping a cult properly immolate their deceased leader by launching him into Caledon's sun. Of course, things go awry in this delightful story.
The last story in the last issue is "Bone Dice" by Keffy R.M. Kehrli and a good one to go out on. Set on some other world, the story is narrated by a young man named Arena who is trying to escape his world with his brother via a spaceship which is leaving soon. As they sail their boat to the city from which the ship is leaving, we get a story of their planet. It concerns ancient gods who decide to have a long game of bone dice and ignore the world. While they are playing, life develops on the planet and so does civilization. They worship a new goddess who fashions herself as the only one who is important. Kehrli tells a good story here and comes up with a new myth that is quite good.
I will miss Talebones dearly. It was a constant source of good stories. You should buy this one, and some back issues, too! Farewell Talebones! Good job!