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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue 1 adheres to a format that has to be familiar to many fans of speculative fiction, combining a selection of short pieces of fiction with author interviews and reviews. As such, it lays out a feast of ideas that will appeal to readers on different levels. The ezine kicks off with Ken Liu's Single-Bit Error, a haunting tale that touches on the mystical. The Sculptor's Son by Jason Gorbel revisits old Jewish legends of golems and dresses them in a somewhat modern guise. The Unforgiving Minute by Seth Chambers tackles questions around reality and imaginary companions. Your Lair or Mine by Cathy Bryant introduces a mythical creature to the dubious world of Internet dating, while Hank Quense's Sponsored By (a reprint) examines the monetization of warfare as a spectator sport. There is a movie review of the animated film The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki and book reviews of The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun from N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood cycle. Interviews are with author Ken Liu, author K.J. Kabza, author Sarah Hans, artist Jonathan Gragg and Clarkesworld editor Neil Clarke.
I have always loved collections of short genre fiction by multiple authors, which made Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue 1 a very satisfying read and very much to my personal taste. There is a good mix of flash fiction and slightly longer work and the selection featured a variety of thought-provoking stories. Often the plot path uses fantasy elements as a gateway to access the fascinating inner worlds of story characters. I enjoyed the interview with Ken Liu, who shared not only the inspiration for his own work, but also his perspective on the Chinese speculative fiction he translates. Would-be authors will appreciate the opportunity to pick the brains of SF editor Neil Clarke on what does and doesn't work for him in stories. If, like me, you devoured the classic zines like Asimov's, Analog and Weird Tales, you should be happy to be introduced to one of the newer kids on the block.