Beneath Ceaseless Skies #126, July 25, 2013

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #126, July 25, 2013

Reviewed in this issue are:

“Artificial Nocturne” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Last Rites for a Vagabond” by Justin Howe

This month’s theme seems to be dysfunction in the fantasy world.

Catherine Tobler’s “Artificial Nocturne” leads off. The story is about Gabrielle, a waif who is being remade into a bat by Maman Floss. When Gabrielle meets Agnessa, a natural-born bird with a human face, it becomes clear that Maman Floss makes beings like Gabrielle for a reason—to be sold. The budding friendship between the two unusual girls leads to an inevitable confrontation when Maman Floss kidnaps Agnessa and tries to sell Gabrielle. A fast read which will be enjoyable for those who enjoy travelling sideshow stories.

In Justin Howe’s “Last Rites for a Vagabond,” Zose and Ten care for Beryl, a maddened ghost hunter with an alder-wood sword and an addiction to his “medicine.” Zose and Ten are dependent on Beryl’s talent to put coins in their pockets and food in their mouths. Unfortunately, with each exorcism, Beryl is diminished a little more. Soon, Zose and Ten find themselves unwelcome except by those who need the services Beryl is increasingly incapable of providing. Perhaps it is metaphorical that this story is not as rich as it could be.

A version of this review appears on the Tangent Online website.

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