Posts Tagged ‘magazine’

Seems every few years or so, sword and sorcery goes and tries to reinvent itself, rebrand itself, see if it can’t get a new generation of readers and writers. As someone who has spent more than a little time reading, writing, and publishing sword-and-sorcery – I get it. There can be a sense of toiling in the shadows of giants (while also fighting against a general disposition to view swords-and-and-sorcery as some lesser version of fantasy fiction – more thud and blunder than literary, and maybe not offering much in the way of cognitive nutrition. Okay – but dammit, sometimes a body just wants to be entertained, and that’s okay as well.

Evidently – this concept of a New Edge grew out of a discord discourse about what could be done to help revitalize the genre, maybe shed some of the old tired tropes and predilections of the past, and help the genre move forward into the 21st century. They are hardly the only ones, but kudos to the editors for bringing more voices to the table. Part of the result is this, the inaugural issue of New Edge Sword and Sorcery Magazine. It is a decent sized volume, featuring six new pieces of fiction as well as seven non-fiction articles that any aficionado would do well to sink their teeth into. Some spoilers follow as to the fiction pieces.

Read more: Magazine Review: New Edge Sword and Sorcery #0

The Curse of the Horsetail Banner by Daniel R.A. Quirogue – A khan betrayed by his blood brother discovers that an ancient tomb has been desecrated, a banner stolen, and a curse unleashed on the land. What follows is a tale of curses and sorcerers and dark magic… and the persistence and stamina of the main character which may be his greatest virtue.

What makes this story unique (other than the departure from your typical Euro-centric Western fantasy) is the central character’s moral dilemma when it comes to the object of the quest. Does he take the banner for himself and assemble a host such has only been seen once before? Or does he return the banner to its rightful resting place and lift the curse from the land? It is this central moral quandry that helps elevate this particular story, and leaves the reader wondering what choice they would make in that situation.

The Ember Inside by Remco van Straten and Angeline B. Adams – Ymke, a writer, or at least a storyteller of one kind or another, is invited to meet with a like-minded individual- a one Sigismond, evidently because he misses the company of other “literary minded individuals.” However, Sigismond is less interested in sharing craft tips as he is to plunge Ymke into a dreamscape and plunder her dreams. What follows is an exploration of a life-not-lived, the alternative branch of choices not taken or maybe simply what happens when a coin lands on heads and not tails. How different would Ymke become as a result? While it made for an interesting tale, by the end I found the tale somewhat lacking. the way the dream scape worked, the way the story resolved at the end – it left me wondering “What are the stakes here? What is the danger? What does Ymke stand to gain? What might she lose?” While the ending, and Sigismond’s fate, did bring a smile to my face, the fact that at the end most of the story was little more than a dream left me feeling unfilled as a reader, and wanting more. I want to see Ymke in her native element, the way she is now, and felt like I received little more than a taste of that within the story.

Old Moon Over Irukad by David C. Smith – a pair of adventurers – Virissa and Edrion – agree to take on a commission. A simple enough job to escort a man to a tomb and stand guard while he retrieves a certain scroll from within. There is a twist to the plan, but it isn’t one that comes as any great surprise. There is a good sense of the weight of history within the story, of old secrets and older evil buried just under the surface. Virissa and Edrion make for a decent pair of rogues, and it would be interesting to see where else their adventures take them.

The Beast of the Shadow Gum Trees by T.K. Rex – An ecological allegory wrapped in a fantasy story, of how the only constant in life is change. Moth is an engaging character, as I am always intrigued by how writers handle characters who have prolonged lifespans, and who they end up seeing the world around them. It might be too bold to state this acts as a meditation on love and loss and the process of letting go… but there is a bit of that as well. The action, however, is muted, but it provides a different take on a guardian of wild places than what one usually sees.

Vapors of Zinai by J.M. Clarke – A tale of an itinerant wanderer, dark magic, old gods and foul demons – so you know this one is like catnip for me. Set in an analogous Africa, it follows Kyembe of Sengezi and how he comes to be employed by the Priestess Takhat to slay a demon. Clarke does a masterful job of setting up competing interests and factions through the course of the story and manages to give enough of a taste of the world (objects of power, gods and demons, named warriors out for hire) to leave the reader wanting to delve deeper into the lore behind the story. The final battle with the demon Kyembe is pitted against is appropriately danger wrought, and the resolution does not merely rely on Kyembe’s strength of arm, but also his wits.

The Grief-Note of Vultures by Bryn Hammond – What happens when a caravan is forced to take shelter from monstrous vultures? How do you battle something that refuses to die? If it is a curse, is it one that can be lifted? A great story where the main character, Angaj-Duzmat, gets by on her wits and her knowledge, and is able to carry the day, and where what seems like a just and fit punishment ripples through the years to create new atrocities. Again, there is a strong sense of a broader world and a consistent set of rules applied that hints to some deep world building by Hammond. However, she does a fantastic job of using it to inform the story, rather than hitting the reader with it.

The non-fiction pieces also deserve a special mention, with my two favorites being Cora Buhlert’s profile of C.L. Moore and Nicole Emmelhaniz’s deep dive into Robert E. Howard’s Dark Agnes.

This issue, as I understand it, was a bit of experiment to see if there was enough interest to support the idea. As a result, you can pick up the issue for free at payhip – link is below. The layout is well done, with plenty of illustrations to break up the text as well advertisements for other like-minded publications.

You can grab a free copy here.

You can also grab a dead tree version (paperback or hardback) at Amazon:

Grab it here:¬†¬†Features my short: “Sword of the Legion”

Would love a review if you do get it.

Phase 2 Magazine Issue 6 by [Gomez, Matthew X., Krider, Justin, Staggs, Matthew, Turnage, B.R.]

New issue of Phase 2 is out now. Click the link to grab your copy.

Come on, where else are you going to get quality science-fiction for less than a cup of coffee?