Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seven Days of Online Fiction, Day 5: Fantasy Magazine

Some of you may have been wondering when in this project I would get to Fantasy Magazine, as it's one of the more high profile online publications.  I'm trying to alternate between venues with which I am familiar and those that are new to me.  The drawback is that what's new to me might not be new to some of you.  One of the goals of this series is to introduce some new sources of reading material to some of you as well as expand my reading horizons.  For those reasons, I'm not necessarily going to look at the more well-known venues.

Anyway, onto Fantasy Magazine.  This publication started out in print form and made the transition to electronic format a few years ago.  The format of this one is slightly different than the others we've looked at so far.  It's a monthly publication consisting of fiction (2 new and 2 reprints) and various nonfiction features, but they don't put all the stories up at once, nor do they leave the stories and features up once they've been posted.  Instead the contents of the main page rotate on a weekly basis throughout the month, changing on Monday.  Of course, if you don't want to wait, you can purchase the complete issue in electronic format on the first of the month.  (And if you like this magazine, you should consider doing that to support them.) Once something is rotated off the main page, it is available through the archives..

The story I'm going to look at is "The Devil in Gaylord's Creek" by Sarah Monette.  This was an enjoyable urban fantasy in a rural setting.  The main character is Morgan, a young lady who happens to be dead.  She travels with her companion Francis.  He's the replacement companion; the first was eaten in the line of duty. 
So Morgan and Francis are in the small town of Gaylord's Creek.  Devils can grow in this universe,subsuming people, and there's one that's gotten big enough to threaten the entire town.

I'm not sure who Morgan and Francis are working for other than it's some type of supernatural para-police organization.  Monette tells us Francis works for some sort of organization, but Morgan doesn't know much about it.  Nor does she wish to.  I, on the other hand, would like to know more.  A lot more.  There's potential for a series here. 

Monette never gives us more background than is necessary to follow the action or develop the characters.  Morgan's preferred weapon is a sword named Stella Mortua.  If you don't know the Latin, you'll need to read the story to find out what it means.  We don't know where the sword came from or how it got its name.

The plot was straightforward on this one, so in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I'll not give you many more details.  The thing I liked best was Morgan's character and her snarky attitude.  She and Francis aren't on the best of terms when the tale opens.  By the end their relationship has changed.  And no, it hasn't turned romantic or sexual.  She's in her teens, and he's a middle aged man.  But their relationship does grow as a result of what they experience.

There's plenty of action.  Morgan and Francis are trying to save the town, after all.  I'd like to know more about Morgan.  We know she's dead but not a lot about how her previous partner brought her back.  About all we know of her death was that she was beaten to death; by whom and under what circumstances isn't revealed. 

This was better than average story.  Much better.  The characters acted like real people.  They changed and grew.  Not only did they affect events, but they were affected by them.  There's enough mystery about the organization Morgan and Francis work for to leave the reader wanting more. 

I'd read Fantasy Magazine before.  Not a great deal, but now that John Joseph Adams had taken over the editorial reigns, I'll be reading more, especially if the quality is this good.  Applying the same yardstick I've applied for Days One, Two, Three, and Four:  if I were not familiar with this publication, would I read more of it based on the story I've randomly selected? Definitely.  The editorial page of Fantasy Magazine says they publish all varieties of fantasy.  This story shows they publish the kind of fantasy I would be reading.

Total quality count (high, low), Day 5: 6-2.

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