Tuesday, January 11, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 7

I apologize for the delay (thanks to an anony-mouse for reminding me), but we now continue with our review of The Ethereal Gazette Issue 12, published by the Morris, Illinois, based Lake Fossil Press.

"Sanctuary" by Lee Cushing

This story - about soldiers battling women who have turned into blood-sucking monsters (no, not vampires) - feels like it is part of a larger work. The reader is dropped into the action with no back story to orient the reader. The main characters are barely described, and climax of the excerpt is not *really* a climax, but one small victory in what appears to be a larger battle.

I did a quick search and this story is posted on Authorsden. Nicky begged Mr. Cushing to expand the story and then allow him to publish it. A note at the beginning of the Authorsden story post reads, "A group of specialists seek refuge in a convent after discovering the location of a nest of Baobban Sith in this sequel to TANGERINE NIGHTMARE." So yes, this is indeed *not* a complete story. The writing itself is not that bad, but why didn't Nicky take the time to obtain the entire story?

Grade: C

"The Horror at Martin’s Beach" by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene

I have never been much of a Lovecraft fan, but this story appeals to me more than the others of his that I have read. And yet the story still has problems.

A boat captain catches and kills a mysterious 50-ft-long sea creature – with tiny legs in place of fins and a single large eye – and shows it off over a number of days to curious on-lookers. Scientists discover (somehow?) that it is a juvenile and from the depths of the sea (??). Um, creatures from the depths of the sea – where there is no light – typically don’t have eyes. And just a single eye? Anyway...

Needless to say, revenge is close at hand. Some unseen creature comes along  and traps a group of hapless but well-meaning humans who try to aid what they assume is a drowning person, and in turn are drowned themselves. By the unseen creatures use of supernatural or hypnotic powers. The mysterious creature from the depths is an old standby of Lovecraft’s, but how this connects to the “baby” I don’t get.

At least this story contains actual horror – the drownings – as opposed to Lovecraft’s narrator simply seeing something too horrible to accurately describe (er…I see where Nicky gets his predeliction) and going mad. Still, the disconnect between physical aspects of the baby and the supernatural aspects of the supposed mama didn’t work for me.

Grade: C-

"In the Shadow of the Emerald City" by Jason Andrew

The title of this story is listed as “In the Shadow of Emerald City” in the Table of Contents. In the body of the anthology, the word “the” is included before “Emerald”. I wonder what the author actually titled his story? His blog seems to indicate that Nicky has erred yet again.

In this story, a playboy love-em-and-leave-em type is confronted with the children he never knew he had. Jimmy likes his women young and his penis bare. When the women inevitably get pregnant, he takes them to his Uncle Sal, a doctor at a family planning clinic, to solve the “problem”. Unfortunately, Sal hasn’t really solved  Jimmy’s problem.

While this story had possibilities, it got some basic stuff wrong. Like heroes crawling inside ductwork or setting off building-wide fire spinkler systems by tripping one head, the idea open sewer systems – like the one this story relies on – is not realistic. Seattle, the “Emerald City” of the title, does not, as far as I can tell, have open sewer tunnels that people and other critters could live in.

Why Sal, a doctor at a clinic, would flush the products of abortions into the sewer rather than simply putting them in the medical waste disposal is a mystery to me. Since this act sets up the premise of the story, it is a major issue. Also puzzling is why Sal would “get arrested” for performing abortions. Were the girls underage? The story never says this. Were they too far along? That is never stated or implied either.

Finally, the reaction of Jimmy to seeing his offspring is disappointingly muted. The opportunity to explore the horror of the situation was not taken and that, in particular, made the ending of this story a let down.

Grade: C-

More to come tomorrow.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

Yay, more reviews. :)