Cower not, fierce reader! This day we look at magazine that isn't looking to be pulp, but rather a normal sff magazine. That said, this read proved far more worthwhile than the last time I picked up Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, or Asimov's. Let's take a look at the contents.
For Hannah by Mark Bilsborough- The story is a big exercise in unrequited love. There's also a lot against male fantasizing, of the incel(involuntary celibate) type, because those guys really need to be picked on a bit more. Well, ok, it's more like the Zuckerberg type that has money, but no social skills. Kinda meh, as there's no action, but is more a drama piece, with no real conflict.
Playmates by Arlen Feldman- For the most part, this is a tender and amusing tale. There's a lot here on the moral hazard of cloning, and making the creation of life simple. The ending is a bit gut wrenching, as while the father might know who can make his life more miserable, he doesn't seem to know the joy his daughter can bring him. Again, there's no real sense of conflict, though this flows pretty well without.
Evens and Odds by Vanessa Kittle- Another cloning story, though this one is far more straightforward, and there is definitely a bit of conflict, though no action. There's another moral hazard aspect here, as well as unscrupulous businessmen.
The Ship of Theseus by Phillip Brian Hall- This was a great read. It's a detective story in a time when lifespan has been extended indefinitely, and nobody retires. This follows a detective assigned to a missing persons case, revolving around a secretive group they call pro-deathers for their rejection of immortality. We also see some philosophical discussion of the humanity of "human androids", people uploaded into android bodies.
An Infernal Malady by Michael Haynes- This story is dark. There's no conflict, action or hope. In fact, it's more a glimpse into a malevolent mystical existence.
The Home Secretary is Safe by C. R. Berry- This vignette features small scale time travel, treating it more like a puzzle. There's a small amount of action, but again, no conflict. In many ways the story is cynical.
Daughter of the Western Winds by Jenni Wood- Hey, a story with real action and conflict, internal and external! In some ways, this feels like watching anime set in medieval Japan, perhaps earlier. The elements all seem to fit together well, and there's an interesting dichotomy between the fantastic powers in the story and the false humility of the tiered nature of the society.
The Wheel of Fortune by Matencera Wolf- Joy. A dystopian world where the lower classes have everything rationed, and our main character is seen as a worthy sacrifice for societal reform by one of the upper echelon. At least there's a minimum of action here.
F-Bombs by Allen Kuzara- While this once again has no conflict, and no real action, this does have a feel like one of the moderately interesting entries from Forbidden Thoughts.(Superversive, you guys might get in touch.) We do have a good glimpse of a father trying desperately to keep his partial custody of his daughter.
Urgent Care by Dale T. Phillips- This is the aftermath of a story. The world is very distopian, as people get violent over everything, apparently, and health care is rationed unless you can pay right now. It's an interesting glimpse.
A Guy Walks into a Bar by Russ Wartrous and Mike McHone- A fantasy story recounted in a fantasy tavern. The storyteller and listener(his friend) are not part of the story, but merely scenery of some interest in a recounting, allowing for the storyteller's embellishments.
Honestly, this stuff is entertaining, but completely forgettable. Mostly they move you between stories a bit easier, by taking you out of setting like an ad, but without the purchase compulsion.
Phantaxis looks to sit in a very odd place in sff right now. It's an actual middle ground publication, with some material that seems to fit the establishment crowd and some that fits the puppy/castalia house/pulprev/superversive crowds. Most of the writing was pretty decent. I'll likely give it another try in the future. Even the stuff I didn't like did not drag. An actually diverse magazine. 7 of 10 fell deeds.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.