Encounters Magazine - Volume 1 Number 4 - November/December 2010
Edited by Guy Kenyon
Cover Artist: M.D. Jackson for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Black Matrix Magazine
Date: 22 November 2010
Links: Black Matrix / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Here is Encounters Magazine, #4, their second bimonthly issue with a mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They indicate which type of story each one is in the Table of Contents. I have reproduced that in my listing.
The fiction in this issue begins with "Polar" by Candra Hope. Eight people at an arctic outpost find themselves isolated when the cable for their radio has been chewed through. Supplies are overdue. Groups of them travel out in the snow to get help. Jim, our narrator, finally finds out what is going on. This was called science fiction, but it was more horror and while I won't say it's pointless, just that it's point is not worth reading the story for. Not a good way to start an issue.
Much better is "Swimming With Sharks" by Timothy Miller, Kyle is a mechanic doing repairs to a ship escaping an alien invasion of Earth. He's caught outside when the aliens attack the fleet. This was an exciting story of heroism.
Scott Hill publishes his first story in "The Black Grave". Jack Howard is a private eye in Icon City. It seems he encounters the supernatural often. In this story, he fights a serial killer and warlock, with some help from a supernatural shadow friend. There are some of the standard tropes of the hard-boiled detective story, but Hill uses them well. I hope this is not the last story with Jack Howard.
We have another first publication with "Returns Permitted Within 30 Days" by Russell James. Kirk and Alexis Trask are an upper middle class couple with a mandroid named Bruce. Kirk really dislikes Bruce and when he receives a demotion at work, convinces Alexis to return him to the manufacturer. This one had a nice twist at the end.
In "Fermi's Paradox" by DoA Worrell, Isole's wife died a year ago. Now, everyone in his life is suddenly dying from a number of causes. This is, in fact, happening all over the world. Why? There are speculations in this chilling little tale.
Dave and his family are driving through West Virginia and encounter the town of "Oblivion" in the story by Naomi Johnson. They see only one little girl with a strange look. Dave heads back out but things get worse. This one had a nice build up to a good ending.
In "Fathermars" by Jack MacKenzie, Neko is a young woman living on a terraformed Mars that had been at war with Earth before she had been born. Life is fairly primitive but her all-female community still survives. There are signs in the sky. Is Earth attacking again? Neko is one of those sent out. She finds out what is happening in a somewhat unsatisfying story.
"The Curator's Delimma" in the story by William Knight is Regina Dee, an agitator on the remote planet of Nitria. The curator orders Wick, the Sheriff, to find a way to get rid of her. Wick does what he has to do in this good, solid story.
Bradford and Doherty don't "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" in Thomas Canfield's story. They find Doherty's dog, Duke, apparently dead. But there is something more there in this nice little chiller.
"Asteroid Eternia" by Collin R. Skocik is told from the point of view of Clarissa who has been sent to a remote asteroid to see if one Dr. Herrman has been cloning himself. He readily admits to it, but bringing him back to Earth is not something easily done. This was one of those twists-and-turns kinds of stories, and quite enjoyable.
"I Regret I Must Eat You Know" by Tom Barlow is a grand fantasy, set in a world where humans can talk with animals. To battle their foes in other lands, men have signed treaties with animals, whales, birds, mice, and dragons. Allyn's family had been whalers before they signed a treaty with them. They were bound to mice as their "seconds". When Allyn finds his family brutally slain and his father clutching a dragon claw, he wants revenge on the dragons. He joins the army to be close to their dragons. He finds out the world is something different than he thinks. This was a nicely done, imaginative tale.
Kevin J. Bartell's "A Symphony of Horrors" is his first published story. In 1939, a squad of Nazis, in Poland, come across a town which has some sort of protector, a vampire. This is not the first such story but Bartell does a nice job of it and puts a new spin on the ending.
Eira has been given the job of tending "Oumings in the Dark" in the story by Jeffrey Aaron Miller. Oumings are the natives of some alien planet. Long ago, they caused an accident that killed thousands of human colonists. Now they are enslaved and treated like animals. Eira takes pity on them and tries to change things in this nice little piece.
In "Wind Like Dry Bones" by Wayne Faust, Travis is convinced that Aztec gold is buried near a Mexican town, Alberto has been his guide but now tells him that the must seek shelter from the 'Wind Like Dry Bones' in the town's mission church. While inside, Travis hears strange sounds outside, but Alberto tells him to stay. Naturally, he does not listen but this one had a nice twist at the end.
In "The All-Consuming Lie" by Ryan Kinkor, Alec Salanger is the head of a crew answering a distress beacon from X'alma VII. They arrive to find no trace of the colonists. Collindar is a ruthless thief who finds an alien artifact called an Energy Matrix Battery. He kills one of the crew and leaves Alec and Shanta (of the Telefin race) behind. But the secret of the EMB is deadly in this well-told little piece.
"Hushabye”"by John Morgan is a short, horror piece that starts with Lizzie trying to get her son, Paulie, to lie down and sleep. He is afraid of monsters. What the monsters are make for an effective, little chiller.
Next up, Forrester is holed up in a hotel during a terrific snowstorm when Jean Saunders comes trudging by in the snow. They discuss "Some Theories Regarding the Current Crisis" in David Tallerman’s story. This one was okay with a nice twist.
"The Memory Miners" by Sergei Servianov is another first publication. At first, it seems like just a future war story, but Servianov gives us something different at the end. Servianov is another new author to watch.
"The World of Shells" by Chrystalla Thorna features a young boy named Jun who must rescue Alma, who is like a sister to him. He is part of a clan looked down upon, but he finds a way to show his mettle. Thoma has written a nice little fantasy here.
Hoshi works for "Celestial Encounters" in the story by Michael Meyerhofer. That's a company that provides sensory deprivation experiences in space. Roy Goodall is a client who has finally had some good luck. This two-pager tells us about both of them. It gets an okay rating.
Dillon is a lifeguard who hears a "Tap, Tap" in the next piece by Aaron Polson. He decides, eventually to check it out, but things don't go well. This one had an unsettling feel to it.
Last of all, there's "The Best of Us All" by Martin Turton. Richard is captain of the Medusa, but his men mutiny when he passes by a French ship, ripe for the plucking. He had been warned by Elizabeth that they must flee the area. Horror follows in another effective tale.
Encounters is doing well. Check them out at their website www.blackmatrixpub.com if you want to support new writers and their publisher.