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Shimmer – Volume 2, Issue 4, The Art Issue, 2008 by Beth Wodzinski (Publisher, Editor-in-Chief)
Edited by Mary Robinette Kowal
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Sam Tomaino
Shimmer  ISBN/ITEM#: SHIMMER200801
Date: 26 March 2008

Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Shimmer, Volume 2, Issue 4 is here with a special Art Issue, guest-edited by Art Editor Mary Robinette Kowal. Stories are by Kurt Kirchmeier, Michael Livingston, Aliette de Bodard, Josh Vogt, Daniel A. Rabuzzi, Angela Slatter and Kuzhali Mainchavel.

Editor-in-chief Beth Wodzinki has been doing special issues of Shimmer, and Volume 2, Issue 4 is called The Art Issue. These special issues have been guest-edited and this one has, appropriately enough, been edited by the magazine's art editor, Mary Robinette Kowal. The John W. Campbell Award nominee takes wing and puts together a fine issue. All the stories got a Very Good from me.

The issue begins with a story inspired by John Picacio's cover art. "Penny Wise" by Kurt Kirchmeier features Ellsy Marucci, a young "penny mage" who can do minor tricks with pennies, like turning them into little penny-fish or make them pop like popcorn. These enchantments only last 30 seconds, though. Her friend is a boy named Harkyn who is a "quarter mage" and can do greater magic. He will not show her this magic and this upsets her, until he shows her why.

Michael Livingston's "A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings" seems to be inspired by a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story called "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." That story is quoted from in the beginning and this story seems like a sequel, as it has just such an old man as a character in it. A man named Pelayo discovers a boy with bony stumps on his back, face down in the mud. He takes him home to care for him as he had done for the winged man previously. This act of kindness changes the lives of all concerned.

I have enjoyed the stories by Aliette de Bodard that I have read previously in Shimmer and Interzone. Her story in this issue, "Within the City of the Swan," does not disappoint. Analea has been awakened by soldiers who have destroyed her city, Vareia, the City of the Swan. Led by Lord Serwin of Karwick, the City of Steel, they are after a woman who Analea had sheltered, Jaya, the "Daughter of the Prophet." Legend has it that the Prophet had founded Vareia and built a maze to protect the Swan, who had been rendered earthbound by the gods. In turn, the Swan protects Vareia. In this beautifully told story, Analea will discover the truth behind the legend.

Josh Vogt sets "Even Songbirds Are Kept in Cages" in a world more like our own, with an important difference. Our narrator is a 9-year-old boy who lives with his brother and their father, who is bitter over the death of his wife (the boys' mother). One day he brings home a "mockingbird lady," a semi-intelligent hybrid of woman and bird. The boy's father imprisons the creature in their attic, but the boy is repulsed by this cruelty.

Daniel A Rabuzzi's story, "Monologue with Birds and Burin," concerns a woman known initially as "the deconstructor." Her job, it appears, is to use a tool called a burin to help mechanical birds fly across the sea. This proves to be a difficult endeavor.

"Dresses, Three" by Angela Slatter features a dressmaker named Cerridwen who makes dresses for a young woman named Aurora de Freitas, niece of the cruel Master Justin de Freitas. She produces three special dresses for Aurora and helps herself, her son, Finn, and the young girl.

The last story is "Flying and Falling" by Kuzhali Manickavel. Muhil is born with "spongy knobs" on her shoulders. As she grows up, she is constantly jumping down from things, as if to fly. It is up to her father, Ilango, to help her reach her destiny.

Mary Robinette Kowal has done a fine job with this issue of Shimmer. I recommend it highly.

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