About Me

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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review of Mystic Signals Issue 7

I am always hesitant to write a review about a book that I have a story in, but I also have wanted to concentrate on getting through some of these anthologies and magazines. I also know how much I love it when people tell me they've enjoyed the stories that I have written. With that in mind, here is what I thought of Mystic Signals, Issue #7 Aug. 2010:

Carol Hightshoe edits this fantasy anthology magazine which features stories from two websites and a few exclusive stories as well (The Lorelei Signal, and Sorcerous Signals). I have to say, when I received the hard copy of Mystic Signals in the mail, I was so excited by the style, formatting and presentation. The art really is exceptional (although I'm more of a traditionalist and enjoy the 2d art usually more, I enjoyed all of these pictures). The formatting is clean, professional and easy to read as it is broken into accessible columns.

As for the stories themselves, holy cow! I can't believe what fun it was to be transported to a new and exciting world with each story. I also have to say that on the whole I enjoyed these more than most best of and "professional" anthologies you might pick up from a big publisher. Some of the stories had a real flare for description and mood, while others were heavier with character, action and humor. There's a real good blend for people of all tastes.

I did have some stories that I really enjoyed reading, and with fantasy this usually mean that I really "escape" into the action and story. I have a theory why, which I will get into in just a minute. Here are the few stories that really stood out for me personally:

1. "Split Second" by Abbi Carter. In this story, Ryal, a sorcerer, is sent with some mercenaries/soldiers to hunt down some Innates (folks born with mystical powers). This story has some real drama, conflict, and a great concept. I left the story wishing I could read a whole novel about this fascinating world.

2. "Irascible" by Barbara Davies. This dragon race tale features a plucky heroin, exciting contest and real cinematic action. I fell in love with the whole concept and wished to read more from Ms. Davies.

3. "The Forest Paradox" by Verna McKinnon. This story has humor and a magical mystery to be solved when a young witch, her brother and ex-lover investigate a magically-killed forest.

I really feel like with fantasy in particular, which traditionally arrived from long epics, the short story form works the best if it devotes its time to a central chracter and acts as one episode in a longer story arc about the character. This way there is a sense of history and a sense of some future to come. The character can play out the challenge in the narrative without having to rush to some conclusion that would only have real impact for the reader if we had journeyed with him or her. Hence, a great short story should act as any single episode in a fantasy television series and give the sense of being involved in a longer arc and a bigger world.

Well, I really enjoyed all of these stories. There wasn't one I skimmed through or didn't finish. I hope all of these writers continue to write and produce lots of good fantasy for the rest of us to enjoy.

Also, check out my story, "Mother Cassie Goes on Account" it is featured in this volume and can also be found on the link to the right.

Well, I'm off to pick something else to read. Take care,


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