Friday, January 18, 2013
Issue #12 of Swords and Sorcery Magazine On Line
If it seemed like I gushed a little about Issue #10 of Swords and Sorcery Magazine, I'm positively nuts about Issue #12. It's been a steady upward path for the magazine since its inception last year and this issue makes a great case that my worries about Issue #10 only being a one-of were unfounded. It's may not be everyone's idea of S&S but it should meet anyone's idea of good stories.
"The Counter of Aderwyn" by Phil Davies is the absolutely first fantasy story I've encountered about accounting. Young Indigo is skilled at, and obsessed with, counting. In a world where accountants are held in the highest esteem, it's a trait with distinct possibilities.
One day while counting ships, Indigo is told by a Gont (small, mischievous creatures with poor reputations) that he will be the Counter of of the royal city of Aderwyn. Indigo, irriated that the little creature would mouth such an impossibility, turns to walk away. Nonplussed, the Gont goes on to tell Indigo that when he accedes to the exalted office of Exchequer of Aderwyn he will come to bless him. What follows is a tale that wouldn't feel out of place among Clark Ashton Smith or Lord Dunsany's dark little tales. "The Counter of Aderwyn" is the best story I've read in this magazine and one of my favorites of the past twelve months. This is a real good one and I'm telling you to take the time to read it.
"Black Bones" by Frank R. Sjodin is a more straight ahead work of S&S. Led by the young warrior Jarn, a party of soldiers has been sent to root out the members of a peasants' uprising and the priests supporting them. They arrive at an ancient temple and swiftly dispatch a trio of priests unwilling to surrender and accept a promise of safe exile. It's inside the temple that Jarn discovers real danger.
Too many of the magazine stories I read suffer from reading too much like extractions from a much longer work. It doesn't always ruin them but they don't stand by themselves as well as I'd like them to. The events of the peasants' uprising are left a little too vague and the background's a little vague. Still, it's not unexciting and foozle in the temple is pretty nasty and its defeat unique. I also appreciated the unanswered questions at the story's end. If real folks don't know the answers to all life's questions why should a ink and paper one?
This month's editorial brings a bit of news. Editor Curtis Ellett writes he's planning to put out an anthology of the best of the magazine's first year's stories. A vote will be held on their facebook page, so if you want to participate, keep your eyes on that page.