Monday, July 14, 2008

Magazine Review: Electric Velocipede 14

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book magazine reviews.

This is my first exposure to Electric Velocipede and it seems like a decent enough publication. What's evident is that despite the presence of some poems and non-fiction, the real meat of the magazine are its short stories (thirteen in this issue). The fiction selection contains both fantasy and science fiction stories and my initial impression is that a lot of the stories are competently written but nothing too outstanding, usually featuring a clear moral or emotion at the end of each piece. They're all easy to read however and quite ideal when you need something that's not too heavy. Having said that, there will be exceptions and here are some stories that strike me: "Hermit Crabs" by Elissa Malcohn is a strong opener and still resonates with me once I was through with the magazine. It features strong characterization and has that powerful, inevitable ending. "Recipe for Survival" by Sandra McDonald is another piece that stands out. It's actually quite short but in that span of time, she provides readers with compelling characters written in a a stylish and consistent manner that builds up towards its ending. "Perfect Tense" by Lisa Mantchev is my favorite sci-fi pieces in the magazine and while the premise or resolution is nothing new, I did appreciate her execution and its foundations of good character. One story I have mixed feelings about is "#1" by Leslie What. I mean I enjoyed it and it is a powerful story but if you belong to the school of thought where a science fiction story needs to have the science fiction element integral to the narrative, that's not the case here as it could have been written in a realist mode and still be just as effective.

As for the other sections of the magazine, I'm not such a good judge when it comes to poetry but the three that were included were accessible but nothing that makes me go wow (but again, I'm not exactly a great poet critic). The two nonfiction pieces at the end has a food theme going for it and much like my poetry evaluation, it's decent but not the type that makes me want to buy the magazine solely for that reason alone. Overall it's not bad. There are a few pieces that stand out while the rest are decent and ho-hum and nothing outright horrible. I'd say Electric Velocipede 14 isn't essential reading but if you're looking for something light or different, you might want to give the magazine a look.

Rating: 3/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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