zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #20

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #20
June 2007; the 20 of Robots tarot card issue
60 Pages, Half Legal $5

Fast becoming one of my favorite rags. Bite sized morsels of speculative fiction. Zine on the outside, literary journal inside. There are parts I don’t love and skip over, but the parts I love make the whole thing worthwhile. Sometimes creepy, sometimes dreamy. Favorite bits by Karen Joy Fowler and Steve Bratman. Well worth the price. Submissions send SASE for guidelines.

Small Beer Press
176 Prospect Ave
Northhampthon MA 01060
info@lcrw.net - lcrw.net

a second opinion:

via HorrorScope by Miranda Siemienowicz on 9/8/07

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is a well established small press magazine edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, both of whom have also joined Ellen Datlow to produce the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series. Lady Churchill's publishes a brand of lyrical, sweetly strange fiction that ranges from solid to very special.

The most remarkable stories in Issue 20 are Anil Menon's "Invisible Hand", a bantering, hilarious and poetic piece about an argument between three Hindu gods, and Edward McEneely's "Consider the Snorklepine", about a fantastical little beast whose sense of human virtue has influenced its human friends through the centuries. McEneely's style is subtle, sweet and perfectly understated.

Other inclusions are well put together even if they lack the delightful touch of "Invisible Hand" and "Snorklepine". "Under the Skin", by Steven Bratman, describes a small town plastic surgeon and his experience of his seriously ill daughter's encounter with the local eccentric. The piece is fit to burst with the weight of so many significant and complex characters but the juggling act is, in the end, smoothly handled.

Karen Joy Fowler's "The Last Worders" warrants particular attention. This is a long story that requires a good deal of stamina from the reader, but the writing is marvellous with some heartbreaking turns of phrase. Two sisters travel overseas to confront someone from their past and encounter a strange, almost mystical cafe in the town of their destination. The great strength of this story lies in its treatment of the fabulous; throughout the process of discovery and investigation, the reader remains more curious than the characters are of the mysteries around them. This allows the strangeness of the setting to impact the reader directly, rather than forcing them to notice by having the characters act out their (artificial, affected) wonderment.

Some stories frankly fail to deliver. "Workshop", by Laura Evans, is a ponderous walk through false intrigue leading to disconnected scene of desolation and despair. It has all the frustration of listening to an anecdote told by a dear friend with a knack for circumlocution, though this approach does come into its own in the details of that final scene. It is harder to appreciate Amelia Beamer's "Krishnaware", a retelling of the familiar premise of a protagonist sacrificing real life for immersive virtual reality. There is no new layer or extension of this oft-tried framework, and the narrative is too heavy with unnecessary explanation for the reader to settle in and enjoy the characters.

"The Third Kind of Darkness", by M. Brock Moorer, opens with a dull poetical exposition along the theme of the title, but goes on to unfold an intriguing world of adult politics and manoeuvring seen through the eyes of a child. The backbone of the narrative is a mass of smoke and mirrors and there is not quite enough flesh to grasp or magical illusions to distract and entertain. The protagonist is a fascinating portrait of sex versus gender but, disappointingly, more time is spent on building the two peripheral child characters than on developing the character at the centre of it all.

In amongst the poetry and other various snippets, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is a great repository of fantastical writing. The style of the pieces is generally warmer and richer than other magazines, with greater focus on language craft and originality of imagination. A rewarding read, expansive in its creativity.

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet
Editors: Gavin Grant and Kelly Link
Publisher: Small Beer Press
ISSN: 1544-7782
The magazine is available from the publisher's website for $US5.

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