I've left the poems out since I'm not into poetry.
Electroencephalography, by Darby Larson, reads like a SF fable. At first the childish style and fairy-tale characters took some getting used to, but as the story got darker, the pipping voice made it all the more terrifying. Dean is a lazy man who wants to make a robot to do his housework for him and gets his father and brother to make it for him. From there, the story gets surreal, leading to a strange ending which, nevertheless, does the story justice.
What happened was this: I woke up and the arrow was there, wedged through my breastbone and into my heart like a trowel. And, you know, I was shocked but not surprised. I thought, Well, this explains that sinking feeling I’ve had for the last thirty years.
Nadine Darling's Arrow tells us the story of a person who, literally, has an arrow through their heart. Being a romantic is a painful and embarrassing affair, and the protagonist goes through all the stages of arrow-acceptance, until they decide to do something about it. But even making a deal with the devil might not be enough to remove an arrow.
I'm glad this story was written. I'm thinking of all those teenagers who've ever been shot through the heart with an arrow: you're not alone, kids, it's ok to feel sad. People learn to cope with arrows, or in the case of this MC, find darker ways of ridding themselves of them.
The language in this story is superb, the humour subtle and understated. A great read and my favorite story in this first half of the issue.
Drive Thru by Kenneth Darling is a prose-poem about an airport. I try not to crit poems, since I don't have even basic knowledge of what a poem should be and I generally don't enjoy them, but the prose structure conned me into reading it and now I don't know what to say. It was sweet, cute, the imagery was good. I told you I didn't know shit about poems.
Hello Goodbye by Lavie Tidhar is a story I tried to understand. It has underwater dragon sex, something I've never seen anywhere else. The writing is awesome (duh, it's Tidhar) and it had an eerie dreamlike quality to it.
Baptised by the Baptist, he says and giggles again, and stares up
at the moons and takes a deep breath. He lies flat on his back, holding
in air, and his body becomes a dirigible floating on water; he is a
Phoenician sailing ship, going to Ur, a merchant of wine and souls.
In Aliens, by Jordan E. Rosenfeld, the MC is a waitress in a vegan restaurant where she hates the food and can't stand Nadia, another waitress.
The language borders on poetic and the desert imagery is vivid. A very nice read.
Not In The Yellow Pages by Lesley C. Weston, is a flash about someone searching for a hotel that isn't listed in the Yellow Pages.
He asks, “Do you remember when you used to love me?”
“I remember,” I say. The roof of my mouth and my teeth ache,
like they did when I was a kid wearing braces.
Yep, I wore braces and they can do that.
As with Arrow, this story is written in first person and the MC's gender isn't explicit. Here I have a feeling it might be a man, whereas in Arrow it felt like a woman's voice. In either case it doesn't matter since gender really doesn't add much to the story and I expect readers could fill in their gender of choice.
As with Drive Thru, I'm wondering if this wasn't almost meant as poetry. The last line certainly carries a punch that sounds like good poetry. Well, whatever the author meant it to be, it's good, so I'm not bitching.
Natural History is the story of a woman coming to terms with the loss of her husband. Gini Hamilton weaves a tale of anecdotes and memories, punctuated by the woman's findings: dead animals, bones, stones. Literary language, restrained emotion and believable characters. GUD.
Unzipped is not another Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder story. For one, if I had noticed that was what it was about, I would have chucked the story across the room. I'm sick of stereotypes of Vietnam vets hitting the deck every time someone breaks a glass. Most cases of PTSD last less than 3-4 months. What's more, most people who live through a traumatic event don't develop PTSD.
Thankfully, the opening paragraphs are so cleverly worded that by the time I found out about that detail I was in love and couldn't stop reading. Steven J. Dines takes the theme into new, medically inaccurate places (I'm not complaining, this is fiction and I don't think it was the author's intent to portray the condition precisely), where guilt, madness and literary flair merge nicely. Dark. That's the way I like it.
Max Velocity by Leslie Claire Walker is about a woman who is breeding. This is no ordinary unwanted pregnancy, in this future, bearing a child costs a woman a lot more than just her figure, her time or her career. The bad guys are seriously screwed, the good guys aren't really good and there is no escaping nature (or a random mutation, whatever). A great way to remember to use birth control and one of the few horror stories that actually scared me.
All in all, I'm amazed at the quality of this first half of GUD#1. Most were impressive stories and there were no stinkers which is more than can be said for some top SF mags. My favorites were Arrow, Aliens and Max Velocity.