Sybil's Garage No. 7
Edited by Matthew Kressel
Cover Artist: Matthew Kressel
Review by Sam Tomaino
Senses Five Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780979624612
Date: 07 July 2010 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Sybil's Garage / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
After a long wait, Sybil's Garage #7 has arrived in my mailbox. The stories in it make the wait worthwhile. It's still coming from Brooklyn. It is still what I've called it before, "a unique mix of unusual stories, poems and articles, all with suggestions on the appropriate music to play while reading". Now, however, it is much bigger. It's a 6x9-inch, square-bound 200-page softcover. It even goes by its ISBN number instead of its ISSN number.
The fiction gets off to a nice start with "By Some Illusion" by Kathryn E. Baker. This is a beautiful, lyrical piece about Rachel, a young woman who was blind at birth and the affect that artificial eyes have on all her other senses and her life.
Very different is "Suicide Club" by Amy Sisson. This has deliberate echoes of the movie Fight Club but is very different. Our narrator is a participant in a club in which people subject themselves to the possibility of suicide. Our narrator has beaten the odds many times. How long can he go? This was truly disturbing and shows how widely the stories in this magazine vary.
Richard Larson's "The Noise" is set in a zombie apocalypse and we get increasing varied views of it from our narrator until we get to a nice sting at the end.
"The History of Worms" by Amelia Shackleford is one of those stories that is hard to summarize. Delia chases butterflies on the beach while her father creates a dragon in his microscope. More I won't say but this is worth reading.
In "Thinking Woman's Crop of Fools" by Tom Crosshill, Nomsa is a woman living in South Africa who must decide whether to hook herself up to a machine so that her thoughts can be used by the rest of the world. For the sake of her family, she makes the only decision she can in this touching, poignant tale.
"The Unbeing of Once-Leela" by Swapna Kishore takes place is something called “persistence-space” in which a woman who was once Leela Manchanda now exists without being able to see, feel, taste, or smell anything. She can hear, in a way, other once-persons and thinks about what they might have been. This was an interesting journey into once-Leela's thoughts.
"How the Future Got Better" by Eric Shaller features the effect of a television channel called FoTax that shows you what you will be doing five minutes in the future. The usual time paradox concepts are discussed in this truly unique story.
Next up, is "The Telescope" by Megan Kurashige. This introduces a truly bizarre problem. Martin has succumbed to some type of condition in which part of his body (in his case, his leg) just turns to glass, glass which is thick but still fragile. Kurashige does a good job showing us the consequences of Martin's condition.
In "Under the Leaves" by A.C. Wise, we have another look at the consequences of something unusual. Richard is a young boy with the usual family, father, mother, brother...and a grandmother who has returned from the dead. Grandma likes to hide under the leaves, jump out, and scare people. In this way, she attracts a suitor. I liked the playful take on this situation.
Sam Ferree's "The Ferryman's Toll" is a interesting look at what a ferryman of the dead might do as the world just emptied out.
Hal Duncan sets out a nice little creation myth in "The Tale of the Six Monkey's Tails". Six monkey brothers each want to make themselves better than their siblings and the fire-goddess grants their wishes.
"The Poincaré Sutra" by Anil Menon is the story of Zulaikha, a young woman who is the daughter of a Coptic Christian in Egypt. She is in love with Yusuf, of the tribe of Manasseh. Menon takes us on a fascinating tour of Zulaikha’s thoughts and fantasies.
M.K. Hobson gives us such a unique take on corporate warfare and I won't spoil it by giving it away. I'll just say that "Kid Despair in Love" is one of the best stories in the issue.
E.C. Meyers shows us another future disease in "My Father's Eyes". Victims of Hollander's disease experience a odd type of dementia. They regress to a primitive state and are called “devols”, “Neo-anderthols” or (more properly) “regressives". They are kept on reservations outside of society. Ambrose discovers his father, who disappeared years ago, is one and wants to seek him out. This was another example of coming up with a new concept and writing a good story about it.
All I can really say about "An Orange Tree Framed Your Body" by Alex Dally MacFarlane is that it concerns a young man rebelling against the society in which he lives in a very destructive way. The story itself is beautifully told.
"The Watcher Thorn" in the story by Cheryl Barkauskas is a special part of Dinah's garden. It is one reason she will not sell her land to Walter, who owns everything around it. She decides to take action to protect her land but things do not work out as planned. This one had a nice little twist at the end.
"Other Things" by Terence Kuch is the story of Gawl, who lives in a world in which words can actually wound or kill someone. In just a little more than two pages, Kuch does a good job of showing us this society.
Finally, the issue ends with "The Dead Boy's Last Poem" by Kelly Barnhill. A young girl is left the poems of a boy who has died. How she deals with them makes for another story with another real sting at the end. .
Even at its larger size, Sybil's Garage is the same strange, wonderful, little magazine. For those that want their fiction to be truly different, this is for you.