Friday, November 11, 2016
Cirsova, Issue Three
We'll do a more in-depth look at a few of the stories from this issue later, but for now, let's just look at the issue from a bird's eye view. After all, this magazine is almost assured of a spot on the short list for a Hugo.
As usual, this is some of the best bang for your buck that fans of short fantasy and science-fiction can find these days. As a big fan of this style of reading, I've long been an advocate for increased production and sale by authors of their short form fiction on Amazon. (I'm following that model myself with the steady release of novellas such as Wyrm's Bane.) As things stand, the production rate of stand-alone short fiction is low, and no one has developed a central review and recommendation list that one could use to select "the good stuff" (hint, hint).
That leaves us at the tender mercies of a man like P. Alexander, the editor of Cirsova, and to date those mercies have been tender indeed. In each of the previous issues of Cirsova, I have yet to be disappointed by a story. As expected, they range in quality. They haven't all blown my socks off, but I have yet to get half-way through a story and think, "Why am I wasting time on this garbage?" Even the worst story in Crisova is worth reading through to the end. That streak continues in the third issue.
This go 'round we get nine stories largely centered around the theme of pirates. One glaring omission that jumps out is the third installment of the epic poetic retelling of the John Carter tale by James Hutchings. That has been promised for the next issue, and it frees up space for stories from new authors, so it's a small loss. The mix of stories tends toward the fantasy end of the spectrum, but there's enough science-fiction to satisfy. The fantasy itself is a solid mix as well with a pair of stories set in historical fantasy worlds rather than the de rigeuer Tolkein pastiches that are all too common. This issue even includes a modern world where fantasy slips past the normies on the regular, and while it wasn't one that appealed to my tastes, it was nice to see that setting included as well.
One thing you can say for Cirsova is that its mix of new and old, and of safe and daring, hits all the sweet spots for variety that you'd want. Even if you don't like everything in this issue, it's a safe bet you'll like something. And if you don't like something in this issue, maybe fantasy and science-fiction just aren't your thing.
As with the first two issues, the cover art here is provided by Jabari Weather. My initial thought on seeing that he is the cover artist for the fourth issue was that they needed some fresh blood in the cover art department. After thinking about it for ten seconds, and looking at the covers all lined up side-by-side, I realized how clever this choice really is. But that's a post for another day...