About six months ago I happened across a blog post that featured the very first issue of Bastion Magazine. For a long time I’ve wanted to find a science fiction or fantasy magazine to read so I could expose myself to new writers and to more short fiction within those two genres. Part of the reason I want to read more short fiction is because I would like to get back into creative writing at some point and I think my strengths might point more to that format rather than full-length novels.
At the time I said to myself, “A brand new science fiction magazine! This is perfect! I can jump in on the ground floor with this!” Then, as seems to be the usual case with me, life got busy and I was trying to stay on track with reading my 100 books for the year, then I was starting a new job, then I was moving to a new home, and now it’s October and the year is almost over. I guess that time has a problem of just getting away from me sometimes, although I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person who suffers with that problem in life.
So, now Bastion Magazine has released its sixth issue in October and I’ve just managed to read the first one. Luckily for me, I have all six of them sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read as soon as I can work them in. I may still have 30 books to read towards my goal for the year as of the writing of this post, but I decided it was time to pause on that and see what Bastion Magazine has to offer me. At the very least, they have magnificent cover art, but I have a feeling the stories in each issue are going to entertain me just fine.
Let’s start with a few comments on the individual stories in Bastion Magazine, Issue #1:
That World Up There by Kurt Bachard
It isn’t often nowadays that you read something written with a second person point of view, but this story took the leap and gave it a try. As a result, I had to reread a few sections to make sure I was following the story correctly because I’m not used to reading in that viewpoint. I did like how the author left it ambiguous as to exactly what the character was, especially given that it can apparently jump bodies at the end.
The Dead Channel by David Galef
I suppose there will always be a debate about whether or not the soul exists and by extension what happens to the soul after a person dies. The idea that families could have a television set that allows them to see and/or hear the person that has recently deceased is something I find both fascinating and a little bit creepy at the same time. Is that something I would want to have for my children if my wife died prematurely? I’m really going to have to think about that before I can settle on an answer.
The Trial of Avery Froelich by Eric J. Hildeman
This was my favorite story of the issue. It had just the right amount of personality from the author leaking through the words and the dialogue was wonderful. Besides, I’m a big fan of the whole “big and unexpected plot twist” thing, which this story had plenty of to go around.
The Dreamcatcher by M. Justine Gerard
I’ll admit, I had to read this one twice. The first time I don’t think I was paying close enough attention to the details and that left me a little bit lost. The second time through I was paying attention and when I was finished I felt a bit creeped out. In a good way. Unexpectedly, this story is the one that made me the most uncomfortable in a “well, that’s definitely something to think long and hard about” sort of way. Stories should do that sometimes.
The Last Repairman by David Austin
This story had me thinking a lot about Hugh Howey’s Wool as I read it. I know it wasn’t really the same thing, but the idea of someone having to “go outside” and everyone being worried about it really sent me back to when I read Wool. I think there is a bigger story inside of this one that I really want to see on the page someday.
Shale by David Jack Sorensen
I think Shale was the shortest story in the issue by a big margin. It’s really only one scene that incorporates a bit of a flashback and then leaves the reader to their own devices as to deciding what happens next. I’m not generally a fan of that sort of thing, but it worked pretty well.
The Crystal Forest by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt
The most humor in the issue came from this story. I’ve read several books lately that deal with sentience being transferred to robotic bodies or held in limbo until physical bodies can be repaired, but I hadn’t come across one where the transfer to a robotic body led to a switch in gender, a switch that for all intents and purposes is permanent. I really, really wanted another 10,000 words of this story to magically appear when I was finished. It hooked me in hard.
Shock by Samuel Marzioli
I’m not really sure how I feel about this one. The manifestation of healing powers that save a life is a little bit of a reach for me personally, but given the short fiction format, I’m not sure there is much else one can do about it. It was well written, but might have just not been my personal cup of tea in the end.
Lighthouse to the Depths by Nicholas Mazmanian
When I finished Lighthouse to the Depths I was reminded of some of the older science fiction I’ve read for school in the past. The kind where not everything is explained and you really have to sit back and fill in some blanks on your own.