Prince James of Handrell isn't your typical Prince Charming, Destiny lives on a broken planet, and Cassius Pryce can't believe the truth behind interplanetary travel. From Mars to magic, from space to binary poetry, from steampunk blimps to wielding the elements, Issue 68 has a little bit of science fiction and fantasy written by emerging authors for longtime and new readers. Step into the pages, but don't get lost wandering around new planets and looking into mystical objects—you just might become the defender of your kingdom.
Having been telling tales (the good kind and the cheeky) since before memory she finally put fingers to (typewriter) keyboard at age 8 when she attempted to write her own ‘Goosebumps’ tale. Kirstie continued on to teach her ninth grade English teacher the importance of setting word counts for short story assignments by handing in a 27 page novella. Word counts remain her greatest foe to this day(apart from big hairy spiders).
Kirstie runs the gamut of speculative fiction from superheroes and modern fantasy, to pre-apocalyptic fantasy and science fiction, the odd dalliance with Lovecraftian horror, but she loves to write her Retailored Fairy Tales series best and has a particular penchant for cross-dimensional tales. Her stories have won and received Honourable Mentions in competitions, and been shortlisted in national fiction awards.
Kirstie lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband T-J, son Xander, daughter Harlequin, and the rest of her menagerie.
Aside from her passion for all creatures great and small she is a self professed Japanophile and the only thing she really misses from her pre-baby life is being able to waste a whole day playing video games.
Now obviously I'm a little biased here, since my own story Charming is included (and most gorgeously illustrated by Katie Wald (Kinsara) - no seriously, I'm in epic love with her picture of Hannah and James on their way to the Black Forest), but as I always do in anthologies my work is included in, I read the whole thing, mentally remove my story and review the rest of the book as impartially as I can.
I may have teared up a tiny bit when I saw this issue was dedicated to Alan Rickman.
This magazine has a great mix of speculative fiction, with fairy tale reminiscent (no, not Charming, another story less blatantly fairy tale influenced, Destiny), cut throat business-man science fiction, magical boarding school romance, and a bittersweet alternate world fantasy with a very intriguing fuel source, Thurium. There's also some very intriguing poetry with spec-fic themes; I was blown away in particular by AI.
Of course the downside to so many different genres means that less diverse readers may find some of the stories not as much their flavour as others.
Back to the pluses though, every story is illustrated, and quite wonderfully too, by several different artists(same artist within the story, but different stories, different artists). There's also some non-fiction at the end with an interesting interview with David Butler and a review of his latest book The Extraordinary Journeys of Clockwork Charlie: The Kidnap Plot and a quiz to see how 'nerd' you are which gave me giggles a-plenty.
There's also some competition stories at the end. A continuing serial which is written by different authors (entrants read the first part, then write their own next part, send them in and the best one is printed in the next volume and becomes canon; a cool idea), and several flash fiction pieces also selected by competition (most of which had really cool ideas).
All up, as I'm a diverse reader, I loved pretty much everything in here. I recommend this to people who enjoy speculative fiction short stories and love to check out new things, or are looking to try some other flavours within the over-arching genre label of speculative fiction to see if they will enjoy other genres within it as this have a rather nice sampling of a lot of it.