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Paradox – The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction – Issue 12 – Spring 2008
Edited by Christopher M. Cevasco
Cover Artist: Giuseppe Signorini
Review by Sam Tomaino
Paradox  ISBN/ITEM#: 15480593
Date: 29 May 2008

Links: Publisher's Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Paradox #12 is here with stories by A.C. Wise, Marie Brennan, Nick Wolven, David Sakmyster and David Erik Nelson, along with poems by Darrell Schweitzer, F.J. Bergmann, Rachael Pruitt and John Thomas Clark.

Paradox, "The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction," returns with issue #12 and all the stories got a Very Good from me.

The issue begins with "Strange Fruit" by A.C. Wise. Set on a plantation in the antebellum South, the story begins with the slave Ceri bleeding from a self-induced abortion. It is obvious that the father is her master, Charles Astin, and subsequent events cause a change in the man. Next comes "The Deaths of Christopher Marlowe" by Marie Brennan. Brennan gives us several scenarios as to what happened on the night of May 30, 1593, in a rented room in Deptford when a noted playwright was removed from the world as we know it.

Nick Wolven's "Senor Hedor" takes place just after the Spanish Civil War as four men on the losing side hide in an abandoned church, pinned down by a lone opponent with a machine gun. They discover a dead body they call Senor Hador, meaning Senor Stinky, and start to weave tales about him and dress him up in priestly finery as they wait for their chance to find a way out.

"Plastromancer" by David Sakmyster is set in the Yellow River basin of China in 1450 BC. Xian Li is a woman of the village who used to be a "plastromancer," someone who uses turtle shells to divine the future. When her village was conquered by the Shang, she was brutalized and made sterile. She was replaced by a plastromancer who tortures the turtles for her prophecy. She cannot bear a child to her lover Tao Jhin, a child who prophecy says will liberate her people. Achieving a miracle will require great sacrifice.

The issue concludes with "Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate" by David Erik Nelson, the longest story ever in an issue of Paradox, and it is well worth it. It is set in Utah Territory in an alternate 1874, one in which Chinese clockwork soldiers (called "Clockies") fought on the Union side in a slightly different Civil War. The narrator is a Japanese veterinarian, living amongst the Mormons, and he tells us of a strange Confederate war veteran who takes the Clockies under his wing and teaches them how to do things. The story is frequently humorous but takes on a serious tone, giving us something truly memorable.

Paradox is an attractive, literate magazine and deserves your support.

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