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Electric Velocipede #14 – Spring 2008
Edited by John Klima
Review by Sam Tomaino
Electric Velocipede  ISBN/ITEM#: velociped200801
Date: 25 August 2008

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

Electric Velocipede #14 is here with some delightful stories from Elissa Malcohn, Erzebet Yellowboy, Michelle Scott, Tracie McBride, D.E. Wasden, Sandra MacDonald, Jennifer Pelland, Leslie Claire Walker, Sara Saab, Sharon E.Woods, Leslie What, Lisa Mantchev and Melissa Mead along with some poems and nonfiction.

Electric Velocipede #14 is a beautifully put together issue. All the stories got a Very Good from me.

The issue begins with "Hermit Crabs" by Elissa Malcohn. The story begins with a young girl named Mandy who is being driven to a suicidal impact with a wall by a boy named Noah in her parent's stolen car. We get a back story about how she met this homeless boy who is something quite different from her. We see just how disturbed she is and what brings her to the point of impact. Malcohn is a talented writer and this offering is quite memorable. Next comes Erzebet YellowBoy (who also writes under the name of Eva Swan) with "Waiting at the Window". Alma is an old woman who has retreated from the modern world of machines but there is something at her door. This one is a nice little piece. Michelle Scott's "Them" has an unusual explanation for the oft-quoted "They say…". A young man finds himself working for a very unusual company and becomes dissatisfied with his job. Scott has written a clever, satirical tale. Tracie McBride gives us a chilling little tale in "The Last Tiger". It starts and ends in the mind of an "enhanced" woman who was programmed to be a killer. Her type is now unfashionable and on the run. McBride accomplishes quite a bit in less than three pages.

D.E. Wasden's "The Artificial Sunlight of Memory" is told from the point of view of an artificial intelligence called a Nandroid. It is a nanny robot that takes care of a little girl called Maddie. It has been give the artistic talent and image of Salvador Dali and has watched while other Nandroids called Picasso & Goya & Van Gogh have been taken away. It is paired with a Matisse who doesn't think that will happen to it. Wasden is quite successful in bringing the Nandroids and the little girls who they take care of to life.

In "Recipe for Survival", Sandra McDonald gives us an unseen narrator, telling a young girl about how to cook a special meal. We eventually learn about the narrator, the girl, and the real meaning of the title. McDonald is a talented writer who can pack quite a bit in a couple of pages. "Sashenka Redux" by Jennifer Pelland features a woman named Sashenka, a clone of a woman named Sashenka Medvedeva, who had devised a plague against an alien race that invaded Earth. The aliens have created many clones to find a cure, which has also made them sterile. They promise freedom for the one who finds a cure and death for all the others. Sashenka is bothered by a "ghost" in her computer that tries to dissuade her from finding a cure but then suddenly becomes cooperative. This story kept me fascinated about what is really going on and has a great ending.

The longest story, and the only one called a novelette, in this issue is "Your Blood" by Leslie Claire Walker. After Tom's girlfriend dumps him, he goes to meet his friend Jazz at a club at which his band is playing. He meets a beautiful but strange woman who calls herself Rachel and takes her back home. As you might expect, his life take a strange turn from there. This reminded me of a poem I read years ago and had a curious feel to it. "Your Blood" well deserves its placement as the centerpiece of this issue.

Sara Saab's "No Bubblewrap for Little Guys" is a brief tale of our narrator chasing a small boy called Omar or Othmaan or Ammar (the narrator is unsure) who has run away from his mother. He finally catches up with him and finds out why he was running. There's not much to this but it was an enjoyable read. "Bull" by Sharon E. Woods, is set in the late 19th century and its narrator is the most usual one yet. It's some sort of objet d'art with a horn and legs (called Bull) that is in a woman's parlor. The other objects in the room also have a personality derived from their respective makers. A clairvoyant woman can converse with them and takes a special interest in Bull. This was an interesting look at a bygone time with a unique central character.

Leslie What contributes "#1". Mindy is self-centered woman who was abandoned to cruel foster care by her mother. Her half-sister desperately needs her help to donate a kidney to her ill daughter. A bedside visit to her dying mother provides Mindy with a true look at herself. Leslie What shows why she has been such a successful writer for so long. "Perfect Tense" by Lisa Mantchev is told from two viewpoints. The first is a college girl who is accosted by a mad woman telling her of a disagreeable future with a baby. Then it shifts to that woman who can travel in time. Later, the young girl travels to meet her older self. All this resolves itself in a delightful way.

The fiction concludes with "Stepsister" by Melissa Mead. This one starts off innocently enough with a woman taking her daughters to see a man she wasn't to marry named Lord Ashbury. But when we are introduced to his otherworldy daughter named Ella, we know something's up. Told from the viewpoint of one of the girls, this is a delightfully clever turn on a familiar story.

This was a fine issue and I heartily recommend Electric Velocipede to everyone. Subscribe!

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