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Bull Spec #5 - Spring 2011
Edited by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
Cover Artist: Richard Case
Review by Sam Tomaino
Bull Spec Magazine  ISBN/ITEM#: 2152-5234
Date: 26 May 2011

Links: Bull Spec / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Bull Spec.#5 is here with stories by Preston Grassman, Rebecca Gomez Farrell, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Roger Williams, M. David Blake, and Benjamin Paul along with some nice interviews and reviews, the beginning of a graphic story, six poems and some other stuff.

I received Bull Spec #5 and this magazine has really accomplished a lot in its first year of publication. Not only are they attracting some of the better writers in the field, SFWA has now approved them as a qualifying publication. Congratulations, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn!

The fiction begins with an exquisite one-pager, "Cael's Continuum" by Preston Grassman. Our narrator is a someone who has lost his twin brother, who has died. His brother used to draw wonderful pictures of trains and cities and our narrator built models of them. I can't say more except that this was a wonderful way to begin the issue and a promising start from a new writer.

Another new writer, Rebecca Gomez Farrell, contributes "Bother". Jonah and Susan live in what used to be a typical city. That is, until a dragon took up residence on the streets. Jonah prefers to ignore it and get by. Susan wants to take action. This puts a strain on their marriage until a crisis forces them to look at things differently. This, too, is another nice story from another promising new writer.

Hugo-winning writer Tim Pratt contributes "Hell's Lottery". Lucifer has decided on a new torment. He is going to draw the name of a damned soul out of a hat and award that person two days of freedom to return to Earth. The winner is an average suicide named Myra Hitomi. Why would the devil do this? What is really going on makes for a splendid little tale.

Next, comes an amusing little tale from another of the best fairly-new writers, Cat Rambo. In "The Coffeemaker's Passion", Lorna gets a new coffeemaker, one that is actually intelligent. This seems like a good thing at first, but problems develop. This was quite an amusing, fun tale.

I got a note from the publisher about the next piece, a previously published (on a website) novelette, "Mortal Passage" by Roger Williams. Tom is badly injured in an accident caused by an AI that has gone bad. His body has been almost completely burned away, but his mind is intact. His friends try to find a way to keep him going and this begins an adventure that lasts 1,220,000,000 years. The range of this story is quite spectacular and I liked how it concluded. I was glad to have an opportunity to read it.

"Absinthe Fish" by M. David Blake is something really different. It begins with the idea of Schrodinger's Cat and then goes of into many different directions and variations on a theme of alternate realities. Blake is another newcomer and also very talented.

The issue concludes with the magazine's first "Teen Writing Contest Winner", seventh grader, Benjamin Paul. I guess you can't be any more of a new writer. For the contest he was given a theme of "teen siblings trying to stop a war" and a limit of 1000 words. In "The Messengers", he succeeds well at that theme. Our young narrator is an expert pilot. His sister, Lillian, is a great navigator. They team up for a special mission and find a good way to solve their problem of making peace. Nicely done.

Bull Spec gets better with every issue! Check it out at their website,, and give them your support.

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