Authors: ed. Simon Petrie
A werewolf, a vampire, and a zombie walked into an issue of
, and then they—
No, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Which is unforgiveably non-Newtonian of me, and arguably spoilerish. But the fact of the matter is that I was struggling to see how to kickstart this editorial …
Let’s try again. Different tack. What is it I look for in a story? What is it, perhaps, in the assembled sixteen stories that led me to select them, in particular, for this issue? What thread connects the helter-skelter rush of dialogue that is Anatoly Belilovsky’s deliciously unhinged ‘Durak’ with the closely-observed sense of unspoken desperation that marks Nike Sulway’s ‘The Fox’s Child’? Is it reasonable to juxtapose two such different spins on the trope of mass-media SF, circa the 1950s, as would seem to be presented within Robert P Switzer’s audaciously zany ‘The Day The Iguana Stood Still’ and Nicole M Taylor’s quietly ominous ‘The Mad Scientist’s Beautiful Daughter’? Is it possible to read Zen Cho’s charming ‘The Earth Spirit’s Favourite Anecdote’, or the Hunger exit interview from Kent Purvis’s multilayered satire ‘Going Fourth’ without hearing the words come to life in one’s inner ear?
(I could answer the above questions, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m just going to suggest you turn the page, and find out. But I’m not going to say it yet, because then you’d just skip past the rest of this editorial.)
I’ve mentioned six stories above, but the other ten are just as good, and equally diverse. Which is not to say that there isn’t some common ground. Edwina Harvey’s tender ‘H G’, M Darusha Wehm’s sly ‘Modern Love’ and Alter S Reiss’s clinical ‘Server Issues’ all take a near-future SF stance, but to quite different ends; Sue Bursztynski’s measured ‘Midwinter Night’ and Belinda Crawford’s urgent ‘Lex Talionis’ both drape a tale of xenophobia and injustice in the cloth of fantasy, with which subject matter Tamlyn Dreaver’s assured ‘Petting The Tiger’ also deals in some measure. Dirk Flinthart’s ‘Head Shot’ has an unexpected quarry in its sights, in a telling that may seem familiar; exactly the same might, indeed, be said of Robert Porteous’s ‘Roasted’. (And please note that ‘Roasted’ and ‘Lex Taliornis’ merit special attention as the first publications by their respective authors. It’s always a priviledge to be able to give a new author his or her first flight, and I’m convinced we’ll be seeing much more from these two.) Sarah Frost’s ‘On Carbon Wings’ and C A L’s ‘The Iron Lighthouse’ are both (deep-)space-based SF: I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to judge whether they qualify as hard SF, or golden age SF, or space opera, or as some amalgam of all three. A conundrum of a different kind is presented in Jacob Edwards’ piece of speculative scholarship, ‘Nine Lines’ …
What else? There are two beguiling poems, six brief book reviews, an interview with Brenda Cooper … and I clearly must acknowledge the wonderful contributions of Lewis Morley as this issue’s artist-in-residence. (When Lewis suggested he’d tackle the illustration for ‘Going Fourth’ with a Beatle-ish portrayal, my initial reaction was: ‘How will that work’? I should not have doubted, because, indeed, it
. As do all of the other marvellous pieces of art which Lewis has executed for this issue.)
I must acknowledge also the usual gang of culprits and co-conspirators—Patty Jansen on proofreading, Lucy Zinkiewicz on slushwrangling, Edwina Harvey on advertising, David Kernot on web-fu, the collective consciousness of the
co-operative on the myriad duties that go into making production of a quarterly magazine possible—and then I really must get out of your way, because you’ve got some reading ahead of you. Please strap yourself in and hang on, it looks like being a bumpy ride, even by our standards …
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
ANDROMEDA SPACEWAYS Inflight Magazine
Issue 54 (Vol. 10, Issue 2)
All artwork by Lewis Morley
…s c virtes
a chaos of nothing
seething by degrees
layers of potential
growing to waves
beyond the secret radius
seeds of order appear
reaching for strings
to pull it all together
a baby universe
clenches its quantum fists
and begins to cry.
…Robert P Switzer
I sit and watch the iguana for hours because he’s all I have left. There’s a deliberateness about him that I admire; he never does anything hastily. And he probably doesn’t have any regrets, which makes him the luckiest creature in this house.
He’s walking across the carpet towards me now. He takes a step, pauses to reflect on the suitability of traveling in this particular direction, then takes another step. And then he completely freezes.
One front leg is raised, hovering, in position to take that next step. But now he’s unsure. Or terrified. Or just plain frozen.
“You okay, Iggy?” I ask.
He doesn’t move; he doesn’t even blink. And I begin to worry.
Suddenly we’re no longer alone. Like lightning, except faster, the room’s population has increased from two to three. An alien, to be specific, has just appeared in my living room.
“I’m causing your iguana to stand perfectly still,” the alien tells me.
“That would’ve been my first guess,” I reply.
“Want to know why?” asks the alien.
“I’m sure you have your reasons,” I say. Everyone has reasons for doing the things they do, in my experience. They may not always be logical reasons. And they may not even be comprehensible reasons, particularly in cases where aliens interact with humankind, such as right here. But there’s no reason to suppose that there aren’t any reasons. It would be utterly unreasonable to think so.
“Stop,” says the alien. “Your internal rambling is giving me a headache.”
“You can read my mind?” I ask.
“Quite easily,” he says.
That isn’t good news. Stupid, ugly alien. Stupid, ugly alien. Stupid, ugly alien. That’s just an example of how my mind works.
And what does he mean he can read my mind quite easily? That sounds like an insult to me, which forces me to carefully construct a devastating insult in return. Stupid, ugly alien.
He blinks his big alien eyes like he can scarcely believe that I’m thinking what I’m thinking. Oh, but I be thinking it. I be thinking it real good.
“Are you on crack?” the alien asks me.
“What makes you ask?” I ask.
“It just seems like a distinct possibility,” he explains.
“Well, I’m not,” I answer.
“Sorry,” says the alien. “My mistake.”
“Think nothing of it,” I tell him. Everyone has reasons for making the mistakes they make, in my experience. They may not always be logical reasons. And—
“Don’t start that again,” he says. He rubs his big alien head with his little alien hand, as if his headache is persisting. “Perhaps we should discuss the fate of your iguana.”
“You mean, Mr. Frozen Fingers?”
“Is that his name?” the alien asks.
“Don’t be dense,” I tell him. “I just called him that in light of his current predicament.”
“Don’t call me dense,” the alien warns.
Dense alien. Dense alien. Dense, dense, dense, dense, dense alien, I quietly think to myself.
“I warned you,” he says.
“But I didn’t say anything,” I protest. “I can’t help it that foolish thoughts constantly flood my mind.”
“I believe that,” says the alien.
What’s that supposed to mean?
He chooses to ignore my unasked question, and instead says, “I’m returning to my ship now. I’m taking your iguana with me.”
With sudden sadness, I glance down at Iggy. “You’re not going to eat him, are you?”
“Don’t be absurd,” says the alien.
“You’re not going to eat me, are you?” I ask next.
“Don’t be insane,” says the alien.
Both seemed like legitimate questions to me, and I’ve got one more. “What exactly do you want with my iguana?”
The alien smiles, but the smile doesn’t make him any more attractive. He stops smiling at once. “You may find this difficult to believe,” he says, “but my people have determined that your iguana is extremely holy. What we would like to do is worship him.”
But there’s nothing difficult to believe about that. “I should’ve known,” I say. “I’ve seen this kind of thing before.”
“I’m glad you understand,” says the alien.
I get the dreadful feeling that Iggy is about to disappear from my life forever, and I panic. “Take me with you too!” I beg.
“Whoa there, man,” says the alien. “Why would I ever want to do that?”
“Well, you apparently think that my iguana is more than just an iguana.”
“So maybe I’m more than just a man.”
The alien weighs the logic of my argument for approximately half a second. “I don’t think so.”
“Damn it, why can’t I ever be the object of someone’s worship?” I cry. “Why not me?”
The alien looks uncomfortable. “I’m pretty sure you don’t really want me to answer that,” he says.
Maybe I need a different type of alien to visit. Maybe as soon as some smarter aliens come along, I’ll be the one who’s worshiped. This one’s just way too stupid, and ugly.
“Farewell,” says the alien.
I reach out and grab the sleeve of his alien garment. “Take me too,” I say. “I promise you won’t even notice I’m there.”
He focuses his big alien eyes on me, and for a second I’m certain he can see right through to my soul. But it isn’t a bad soul, is it? “Fine,” he eventually says.
Suddenly we’re no longer in my living room. “Is this your starship?” I ask. “Huh. I thought there’d be more flashing lights.”
“It’ll be about a week before we’re ready to leave this system,” he says. “You’re welcome to remain on board until then, if you are so inclined.”
“Oh, I be so inclined,” I say.
“Super,” says the alien, but something tells me he doesn’t really mean it.
I look down and see that Iggy’s pose hasn’t changed. “Are you planning on unfreezing Mr. Frozen Fingers any time soon?”
“No,” says the alien. “We’d like to worship him in all his frozen perfection.”
It abruptly occurs to me that it might be the alien who’s on crack.
“I heard that,” he says.
“Stop reading my mind, you mind-reading extraterrestrial!” I shout.
“It’s a bad habit,” he admits.
“Like crack,” I suggest.