Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Issue 8

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is edited by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, and in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that they just bought one of my short stories (Yay!). The fact that their magazine comes up here in my reading schedule, however, is purely serendipitous. I found a couple of back issues at Dreamhaven, and this is the first one I finished.

The first story is "As If" by Carol Emshwiller. This is a strange and disturbing story, so of course I liked it. I don't know what it's about, exactly, but I like it. Isak Dinesen said "It is not a bad thing in a tale that you understand only the half of it." I come away from this story with questions, which is a good thing. Is there a difference between the "we" and the "I" in this story? Is the protagonist being tortured because of what she knows or because of who she is? Does the story end in death, or in liberation, and are they the same thing? Emshwiller also has a novel and a collection of short stories available from Small Beer Press, which is the same people who do LCRW. She is, in fact, that good.

"Going Private" by Eliot Fintushel is a dark bit of science fiction. The language is playful and evokes the time (future) and place (urban) effectively. The plot is perhaps a bit conventional--or at least, the ideas--so I was a bit disappointed with this story in the context of Fintushel's work in CRANK!

Alex Irvine's "Tato Chip, Tato Chip, Sing Me a Song" has to be the funniest story in this issue. It's about what happens when the mind-control device which a small-time revolutionary plans to use to take over the US falls into the wrong hands--Alfred's. Alfred has one thing on his mind, and it's not revolution. Wonderfully constructed absurdity.

"Love Story" by Jeremy Cavin is short but poignant; it turns a microscope on a few words and actions and creates a picture of a complicated relationship. Nicely done.

"Suspension" by Robert Wexler is a story about a four-armed man lying in the snow. Really, it is. And you want to know more? It's good. Not quite great, but a worthwhile read.

Nancy Jane Moore's story "Three O'Clock In the Morning" is a dark and effective story about walls, both literal and figurative. The easy acceptance of the sudden strange appearance of the walls is perhaps what makes the story most disturbing. It makes me think, sadly, of current events. An excellent story.

"Cuttlefish" by Alan Deniro is a weird story about a god that looks like a boy, and what happens when one of his subjects comes looking for him. An odd and satisfying story.

"Pretending" by Ray Vukcevich is not about making believe but about making belief. Five friends, seemingly united only by their lack of religious belief, gather to attempt to forge a secular tradition for the Christmas holiday. Their gathering place, a converted missile silo, is ominous in itself, and the proceedings get darker still when they attempt to turn one of their number into a ghost. This is a disheartening story, which is not the same as a bad story. Vukcevich also has a story collection out from Small Beer Press, so check it out.