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Kaleidotrope - Issue 9 - July 2010
Edited by Fred Coppersmith
Cover Artist: Inna Hansen
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 30 July 2010

Links: Kaleidotrope / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

I know I always call Kaleidotrope “eclectic”, but that is really the best descriptor for it. Here we have issue #9 and stories by Rachel Swirskey, Jay Lowery, Daniel Braum, Jason Heller, Genevieve Valentine, Marshall Payne, Janet E. Sever, Cort Ellyn, and Jenny Blackford.

The always different Kaleidotrope is here with issue #9 and some wonderful stories.

The issue begins with "A Punny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tavern" by Rachel Swirsky and it is, indeed, an amusing tale. Melva and Calder have been stealing money from the heroes hired by their employer, Lady Olwyn, to slay the dragon in Wyrm's Wood. Melva distracts the hero with a shaggy dog story and Calder picks his pocket. Usually, the hero then goes off to slay the dragon, but gets himself killed instead. This time, however, things go differently. This was a great way to start the issue.

"So Many Years Ago" by Jay Lowrey gives us a picture of life in some future Earth. Our central character is named Sam and we see him participate in Mandatory Sports Fee Day and New Year's Eve. He meets a fascinating woman named Roni and narrowly escapes being caught up in random violence. I found this story interesting but it could have used a bit more detail about what was going on.

Daniel Braum's "Emperor of Mist" is the story of Japan in 1857. Their emperor is in a coma and this puts Japan in a weak position. Kaito is a monk who finds a way for his spirit to float freely over his world and into another one. In this world, Japan has conquered much of the world. Kaito also finds he can bring other spirits with him. When he returns to his world, he hatches a plan to save his Japan. This was a richly told fantasy with an end that will surprise you.

In "Like a Cannonball" by Jason Heller. Kev's friend Mike has magical powers to respond to music in unusual ways. He can fly, change shapes, etc. Kev is appalled that Mike's tastes now run to Van Morrison but events change his mind. This was just the sort of decidedly different tale that I like to read Kaleidotrope for.

The talented Genevieve Valentine contributes the satirical "Take Four". Greg is a film director getting ready to film the big disaster scene in some unnamed city. Some of his problems are like those faced by directors in the real world. Here, though, things are decidedly different in this well-told short piece.

In "Danny's Magical Toe Jam" by Marshall Payne, the toe jam is this stuff that grows between Danny's toes. The substance is supposed to have some kind of predictive power and Danny is constantly being held prisoner by people who want to exploit the stuff. This one had a lot of nice twists and turns and was a very good read.

The "Labyrinth" in Janet E. Sever's contribution to this issue is indeed the one on Knossos, the one that had a minotaur. Cassie lets her archeologist husband, Leslie, go off on his own and she makes the mistake of touring a cave on Knossos with Leslie's partner Nikos and his giant, hideous son Tauro. Things go wrong in this very surprising tale.

Cort Ellyn's "Fire Eater" gives us Mother Mirrah who wants justice for a drealing, a creature that is partly human, who she is convinced was unjustly imprisoned 140 years ago. She talks with him and has great sympathy for him. I won't reveal how this one turns but I will say that is was a very well-written story.

Finally, we have "Adam" by Jenny Blackford. Suzie likes babysitting for her little half-sister, Boo, but doesn't like getting saddled with, Adam, the son of her neighbor. Odd things happen. Somehow, Adam frequently winds up with sharp objects. Boo seems to be able to get from one place to the simultaneously. Things work out in the end and we get another nice little story.

Kaleidotrope is always worth your time and consistently has good, varied stories. 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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