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Alterations and transformations

Editor John Benson calls issue 52 of Not One of Us the alternative issue. Things aren't as they seem, or get overwritten or undone, there are shatterings and fires and renewals. I love the attention John has paid to what goes where--which poems go together, and before or after which stories, and which stories abut.

I'm self-interested in writing about this issue, because I have a story in it--and truly, I wanted to write about issue 51, which has a beautifully creepy story by Mat Joiner in it, and a wonderful-as-usual story by Patricia Russo, not to mention both poetry and prose by Sonya Taaffe, but time got away from me, so it's issue 52 I'll talk about here.

My own story, "Andy Phillips and the Jones Sisters," is a little something I wrote inspired by Jean Ritchie's "Young Man Who Wouldn't Raise Corn." (You can hear someone else sing a version of it to the same melody here.) What young man is too lazy to raise corn? A fairy farmer, I reckon. (haikujaguar, we talked about this--this is my version.) There are tattered mushrooms in the story, so I'm very fond of the cover of this issue.

not one of us 52


I'm very, very happy to be sidling up next to Sonya Taaffe's "Like Milkweed," an achingly beautiful story of loss and hope and mystery: it's all too easy to hope that the human-sized monarch butterflies that started to appear some years ago are souls of the departed, or maybe angels, or maybe aliens, but Alicja does not believe any of those things, and yet when one knocks at her window, in all its golden-orange radiance. . .

And before Sonya's story comes Mat Joiner's poem "The Bryomancer," about a charmer of mosses, molds, and mildews:

The mosses have a love for her;
curl up like fronded hedgehogs and roll into her pack.

It reminds me of this picture of a strange seaweed phenomenon.

Before Mat's poem is the first story in the issue, "Starred Up," by Finn Clark, which features an actual alien encounter . . . if the viewpoint protagonist can trust her perceptions--which a history of mental illness has taught her to interrogate fiercely.


Continuing forward from my story, there are three poems--"Graveyard," by Liz Bourke, "Mountain of Bone," by K. S. Hardy," and "Vow," by Adrienne Odasso--which can be read together almost like linked verse, the way their language and themes echo off one another:

furnace-born, bearing the ashes
of alien altars up into summer's end,


from "Graveyard," is taken up in "Mountain of Bone" by

And with their legendary breath
They fired the heap,
A pyre that could be seen
From untold leagues away,


while "Vow"'s shadowed, shattered lands calls to mind "Graveyard"'s shards/storm-scattered beneath the kelp

And those images of shadowed, shattered lands provide the perfect lead-in for Patricia Russo's "The Wild and Hungry Times," a story with a desolate setting that touches on bucking destiny, enacting redemption . . . and the impositions (and ridiculousness) of academe. For the last, consider the introduction's discussion of word vaults:

The scarred lords left behind them a reestablished trading network and hundreds of what the next lot called word-vaults. It is believed that this term referred to archives, or possibly schools, or possibly private libraries, or possibly multilingual dictionaries, or possibly stone halls in which epics and sagas and such were chanted or sung. There is approximately an equal amount of evidence to support each of these hypotheses, except the last, which is ludicrous.


That's followed by two poems, Neal Wilgus's "Another Rubicon" and Malcolm Morris's "Stream," the first of which plays with the idea of the elephant in the room, while the second conjures refreshment in a dream--which sets a reader up nicely for Andy Dudak's "The Gold-Farmer's Daughter," which is an excellent cyberpunk tale of RPG building, sentient NPCs, nationalism, and the possibility of rewriting history.

And the issue closes out with Sonya Taaffe's "The Antiquities of Herculaneum," a vivid ode to volcanic wrath.

If these appeal, you can order a copy from John Benson, and it will come to you in your mailbox--your actual, physical, brick-and-mortar mailbox (except probably your mailbox is not made of brick or mortar)--the ur-mailbox after which your cyber mailbox styles itself.


Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
cmcmck
Oct. 2nd, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
Or even through the hole in the front door if it gets as far as this side of the pond! :o)
asakiyume
Oct. 3rd, 2014 12:58 am (UTC)
Yes ^_^
sovay
Oct. 2nd, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
My own story, "Andy Phillips and the Jones Sisters," is a little something I wrote inspired by Jean Ritchie's "Young Man Who Wouldn't Raise Corn."

Oh, cool! I love the story; I didn't know there was music behind it.

There are tattered mushrooms in the story, so I'm very fond of the cover of this issue.

I adore that photo. Especially on the cream-colored paper of the cover; it looks softly blurred like silver gelatin or charcoal. I'd hang it as a print on my wall.

I'm very, very happy to be sidling up next to Sonya Taaffe's "Like Milkweed," an achingly beautiful story of loss and hope and mystery

Thank you. You were the inspiration for the story, so I'm glad you like it.

It reminds me of this picture of a strange seaweed phenomenon.

. . . I did not know that was a thing. I shall have to do research.

Patricia Russo's "The Wild and Hungry Times"

I really like this story, actually. I'd love to see more set in the same world, although it's complete in itself; that sense of wider stories untold is part of what makes it so effective.

--the ur-mailbox after which your cyber mailbox styles itself.

I like the idea of the ur-mailbox. Somehow I imagine it has fangs.

Edited at 2014-10-02 08:43 pm (UTC)
asakiyume
Oct. 3rd, 2014 01:02 am (UTC)
I love the photo too--John gets universally lovely photos, but this one I like in particular.

When I think of being the inspiration of that story, it gives me great joy. Beauty came about because of me, and I didn't even TRY.

I have liked almost every single Patricia Russo story I've read, and this one is no exception, but I will admit that this one made me *think* about it more--but actually, no, "admit" isn't the right word, because that implies that I'm reluctant to say so. I like stories that make me think about them. This one made me work a little to think about how it all went together--I'm happy with the conclusions I reached.

ETA: I-Khhaaaaaaaan!

ETA 2: okay, second time was my fault :-|

Edited at 2014-10-03 01:03 am (UTC)
sovay
Oct. 3rd, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Beauty came about because of me, and I didn't even TRY.

You are a very excellent muse.

I like stories that make me think about them. This one made me work a little to think about how it all went together--I'm happy with the conclusions I reached.

It is one of the stories I've read recently that I am hoping will be noticed by Year's Best anthologies and that sort of thing.

[edit] KHAAAAAAAAN!

Edited at 2014-10-03 01:29 am (UTC)
frigg
Oct. 3rd, 2014 08:57 am (UTC)
Ur-mailbox. I shall never look at my mailbox in the same way again. :)

The stories sound wonderful.
asakiyume
Oct. 3rd, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
LOL. The archetypal mailbox.

The stories are good! I can't really pick a favorite; they're all appealing, and very different, each from the next.

Edited at 2014-10-03 02:45 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
asakiyume
Oct. 3rd, 2014 03:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks, m'dear. I feel a little, I don't know. Humble? Not embarrassed exactly, but this is just a *story*, just like a folktale or whatever. It doesn't have quite the literary power or the imagination of the others. It's not a bad tale, as far as tales go, though, I guess. The Asakiyume connections make me happy, though.
(Deleted comment)
pdlloyd
Oct. 5th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC)
You paint such a delicious picture of this magazine. My mouth is watering with the desire to bite into these stories and poems.
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2014 03:19 am (UTC)
I enjoy the zine tremendously, and highly recommend it!
ashlyme
Oct. 10th, 2014 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm sorry I didn't see this before now, but I was mightily charmed by your story. <3
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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