Kaleidotrope - Issue 13 - Fall 2011
Edited by Fred Coppersmith
Cover Artist: Donovan Reid
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 25 November 2011
Links: Kaleidotrope / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Kaleidotrope #13 is here with a real mixed bag of stories.
The issue begins with "The Flowering Cage" by Forrest Aguirre. A man enters a village wearing only a loincloth and a cage. His arms and legs stick out but he is otherwise imprisoned. There is much speculation as to why he is so bound. His arms have flower tattoos on them and the village elders ask the blacksmith/tattooist to add another to the man's left breast. Years later, the man returns, still caged, his skin almost covered with flower tattoos, but the tattooist manages to add one in a sensitive place. The caged man also attracts the attention of a boy whose life is changed. The man returns a third time. More, I will not say except that this story is beautifully written and a wonderful way to begin the issue.
Next is "The Sleeping Book" by Alisa Golden. We are told at the beginning "In Japanese, an unbound book is referred to as a Sleeping Book." Then, we are treated to a very brief piece about a young girl who keeps one under her pillow. There is also a cement rabbit with a damaged ear outside of her door. I'm not sure what to make of this story at all.
In "Great Clerks of Necromancy" by Paul Abbamondi, the bodies of more than 15 magicians (in tuxes) wash up on an Atlantic City beach. The gulls know that they should not be touched but an elderly couple touches them and disappear. When police arrive, the gulls (one of them, our narrator) must find a way to warn them not to touch the bodies. This was a truly unique story from a talented writer.
"The Crocus and the Clock Tower" by S.L. Nickerson starts out with three friends, Ayo, Oie, and our narrator sailing a seas of fruit and, then, landing on an island that is upside down. More bizarre things happen in this rich fantasy.
Jimmy is sent to "Godfrey's Zoo" to collect the rent in Daniel LeMoal's story. It's actually Godfrey's apartment over his uncle's restaurant, but Godfrey has quite a menagerie up there. While looking at tarantula, Jimmy notices a human brain with a lot of wires in it. Don't ask how this came to be there. This was just a wild story and quite fun to read.
"The Printer Repairman" in Josh Pearce's story has the original manuscript of Neuromancer by William Gibson, which is covered by Liquid Paper because of Gibson's corrections. He has cut it up to find something out about it in another truly bizarre tale.
In Michelle's world, there is no "Haphazarding the Future" in K.R. Hager' story. Tests show whether a child might be a Drainer or a Contributor. Her son will be a Drainer, so she must do something about that. This is the kind of story that always chills and this one does that.
Next up is "Too Close to the Sun" by Eirik Gumney and does feature a guy with wings who has fallen into a nearby ocean. He calls his dad to tell him he's OK and tries again. Nicely done.
"PHOS" by Anne Michaud starts with unclear prose but eventually you figure out that some sort of scientist has a bug in a jar. One figures out that Earth has been invaded by some sort of bug but the scientist doesn't seem competent to find it. The story just doesn't make much sense.
In "Pronouncement" by Jacob Edwards, Elmer Hocklosh solves the murder of an Earth man in which aliens are involved. He solves it by winding his way through "pronoun trouble", exactly like that old Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon in a nicely amusing tale.
"Space Out of Time" by Kimberly Todd Wade is the story of Marigold and her crewmates who have been in space for a long time. It is having a strange effect on them, but not a particularly interesting one.
"The Soft March" in Chris Gauthier's story is something being studied by Liz and Capper, along with the sound of gup beetles. They want to make a music album from what they are seeing and hearing. They get caught up in things more than they anticipate in a fairly good story.
In "Best Taste" by Joseph Robert, Ed is a man at loose ends who meets a fascinating girl eating ramen noodles. We get more pictures of Ed's life as this builds to a horrifying climax.
Next up is "Walrus and Blue Dream" by Kyle Hemmings. A young man seeks out his sister, Kore, who is bulimic because of the abuse of their stepfather. Kore is another name for Persephone, so I guess the story refers to that myth. It doesn't make much of a story.
"The One Thousand, One Hundred, and Eleven Gates to Faerie" by Simon Kewin features Daniel who is is visited by different residents of Faerie three times in his life, once as a child, once as a young man, and a third time in middle age. His interactions affect his life and it all resolves in a beautiful way.
"Raising the Drowned" by Daniel W. Davis is narrated by David, a 19th century Christian missionary who arrives in a primitive village to join Reverend Keith who has been there for a year or so. The villagers do not have names for themselves. Some have titles but that's it. Reverend Keith tells him of a chapel which they do not enter but David will see soon. After a few days, he is invited to something called the Ceremony that Keith has seen already. What he sees shakes his faith. This was interesting enough although the narrative seemed a bit odd for a 19th century man.
"The Butterfly Husband and Wife" by Julie Rosenthal was a very different kind of fantasy. Cruachel is a "Andrian missionary to the Fjarans" and spends a long time in the cold ministering to them. He is back in warmer climes, visiting his mentor, Erven. They get into a long philosophical discussion and Erven tells Cruachel of a husband and wife who sought the help of a shapeshifter to enhance their marriage. He turns them into butterflies of the opposite sex. This leads to more philosophy and a resolution that will surprise you. One of the best stories in this issue.
"The Head in the Goatskin Bag" by Jenny Blackford is a different version of the Perseus and Andromeda story. If you've seen Clash of the Titans (either version), you'll be surprised by some, but not all of the end.
"Genevieve" in the story by Richard D. Findlay awakes with no previous knowledge of her existence on a world with two suns. A man she somehow knows is named Garrett flies in on "gossamer wings" which retreat back into his body. She wants to please him and they make love. They have had another encounter when she is visited by a man calling himself Moonfly and we have more sex described in a pretty graphic way. He leaves a seed in her that changes her in a profound way. I won't say exactly what is going on but that Genevieve finds a way to take care of the men exploiting her. This one was unexceptional.
The fiction concludes with "The Night it Snowed Octopuses" by Christoph Bahnsen. Twin loves to free-dive (without an oxygen tank), something she learned from her father. An accident causes her left arm to be severed but she agrees to an experimental operation. Stem cells are used to restore her arm. But what kind of stem cells? When you find out, you might anticipate the end of the story, but it's a good one nonetheless.
This is the last print issue of Kaleidotrope. In 2012, check them out online at www.kaleidotrope.net. I hope they continue their hilarious Horoscopes section, which are great fun to read.