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Kaleidotrope - Issue 8 - April 2010
Edited by Fred Coppersmith
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 26 April 2010

Links: Kaleidotrope / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

That eclectic magazine Kaleidotrope is back with issue #8 and stories by Therese Arkenberg, Terrie Leigh Relf, David McGillveray, C. Groover, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Will Kaufman, Rob Hunter, Peta Jinnath Andersen, Kevin Brown, Paul Abbamondi, Kathleen J. Stowe, Fred Warren, Simon Petrie, Jeff Soesbe, and Benjamin Smith.

The new issue of Kaleidotrope, #8, is here and, once more, has unusual stories that I enjoyed reading.

The issue begins with "Harmony" by Therese Arkenberg. Two men, called just M. and Jonathan have a conversation. M. tells Jonathan about the old battle between Harmony and Discord and what Jonathan, as a servant of Harmony, must do to stop a servant of Discord. This brief interesting tale had a very nice ending.

Next up is "le souper a la maison d'ombres" or "Dinner at the House of Shadows" by Terrie Leigh Relf. Danielle, Marie, and Therese enjoy an elegant meal at the Cordon Bleu Restaurant, observed by the woman who owns it. But she goes to special lengths for these patrons. This was a subtle but unsettling little piece.

In "Away from the Window" by David McGillveray, Marx is aboard a space station, one in which all the other occupants have taken a walk out of the airlock without a suit. Their frozen bodies and blood follow in the wake of the station's orbit. This one becomes a nice little chiller at the end when we learn more about Marx.

Taking a title from Poe with "A Descent into a Maelstrom", SC. Groover gives us a tale of a man who seeks to observe the heavens in the best possible way. On the way to the Dawran Palace (and its great observatory) in India, sometime in the early 20th Century, he meets a beautiful woman who call herself Lattice. At the Dawran Palace, he finds a passage from his room into a vast chamber that goes down very far. He walks down a long flight of stairs and finds the maelstrom of the title. I won't give more of the details of this beautifully told story, but just say that it is quite a journey.

"Mouse and I" by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz features two clockwork creatures, Fant, our narrator, and his friend Mouse. Hunters have been destroying the clockwork creatures and only their friend Umberto can piece them back together again. Can they find a way out? This was another well-told tale.

"Eris Sinks Pluto" by Will Kaufman is a rambling story about three people on a doomed world and what they do to pass the time. This one was just okay.

Rob Hunter gives us one of the wildest stories of the year in "The Beewolf". The beewolf, whose name is Ralph, and his human friend, Harry, are con-men loose on the planet Chalifoux. They meet up with a policewoman named Titania who winds up taking them home. Things get even wilder from there. This one was tremendously fun and a real hoot.

"The Jar" by Peta Jinnath Andersen a brief piece that has its roots in Greek Mythology but I can't say more about it without spoiling it. This was elegantly and succinctly told.

"Invisible Bullets" by Kevin Brown is narrated by a young man, abandoned by his parents, who just wants some kind of family. He finds it in Warren, an even sadder case than he is and someone always in trouble. Their latest escapade lands them into real big trouble in this touching sad piece.

In "More's the Pity" by Paul Abbamondi, Benjamin Beak-Harris is a blogsporter and man about town. He plans to go to the big party of a rich man named William Oswinn. He makes the mistake of trusting the wrong person and things go way wrong. This was another wild story featuring a guy who just wants to blog.

"The Usherette" in the story by Kathleen J. Stowe, is unnamed but we know her bosses are named Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The theater in which she is working is an old, fancy one. The movie being shown to the audience is not your typical one and the usherette's duties are something very different, too. Stowe has a beautiful prose style and uses it well to tell this wonderful story.

Tran is working in the fields when she sees the first sprouting of "The Silver Tree" in the story by Fred Warren. Her world was founded by people fleeing what humanity had become some 500 years ago. They live a simple life and tech is suppressed. Her boyfriend, Lopez, is punished for daring to tinker with something mechanical. Then, she is forced to make a choice for her planet. Does she make the right one? That's for you to decide and Warren shows that he is a very talented writer.

In "The Speed of Heavy" by Simon Petrie, Captain Shelby Wright must cope with what looks like a bad contract that his exchange student assistant has made with a company on Vesta. They have to transport 20 bats from Vesta to Eros in one hundred days. He doesn't think it can be done. He runs into even more problems in this solidly written nice little story.

"Visiting the Ladies Room Exhibit at the Human Museum" by Jeff Soesbe is a good satiric piece set in some distant future in which all humanity perished in floods. Members of an alien race called the Bakrell are visiting a Human Museum and the child asks one of the parents what "ladies" are. The parent finds out that humans were divided into two sexes, unlike the Bakrell who have only one. What is it like to have two sexes? The parent wants to find out. This was very cleverly done in just two pages.

The issue comes to a fine conclusion with "A Capricious Disposition" by Benjamin Smith. In a bar populated by people of ill-repute, a thief is talking to a stranger dressed as a merchant. He tells him how he robbed Lord Stanwell of all his jewels and the unexpected ally he had. This, too, was another story that I enjoyed reading.

Kaleidotrope is a magazine that you must take your time with, but it is very rewarding to do so. In addition to the stories, it always has a hilarious Horoscopes section, which I always enjoy. I recommend that you subscribe.

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