Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ideomancer, Vol. 9, Issue 3

Ideomancer is a quarterly online magazine of speculative fiction and poetry. This magazine publishes work that is typically on the literary side of genre. One tends to find more work trending towards magic realism here than pulp sci-fi or fantasy. After reading this publication for several years, it is one I have learned to count on for lush prose and beautiful descriptive language.

Per publisher Leah Bobet’s Editor’s Note, the “September 2010 issue delves into some off-kilter relationships: how they go subtly right, or wrong, and what we do about it.” That sums up this issue pretty well, I think.

This issue can be read in its entirety here:


“Fairest in the Land” by Catherine Krahe – A piece of flash fiction which describes the lives of some famous fairy tale princesses from a different perspective. Words are used in a manner that creates striking visual portraits of the characters. However, the wonderful language glosses over the lack of a clear narrative flow. The story is all description with very little in the way of actual story. Also, the hardened princess trope utilized is becoming a little too pervasive in genre culture and this one does not really add anything new for me. Still worth reading for the language alone.

“It Shall Come to Pass on a Summer’s Day” by Lenora Rose – A selkie story, told as a prophesy. There are some interesting twists in the end, and I applaud the author for how she turns a prophet into an unreliable narrator. My only complaint is that the exclusive use of future tense to tell this story tends to be repetitive and awkwardly worded at times.

“Afterglow” by Sandra Odell – Near the beginning of this story, a character states: “Anything is possible if you love deeply enough.” This slightly oedipal romance is alternately sweet and surreal, tender and disturbing. The term Kafkaesque comes to mind. I guess you could say this story is Jungian erotica. Recommended with reservations. Definitely the most memorable and unique story of this issue for me.


“Evening in Pompeii” by Rachel Swirsky – Wonderfully descriptive poem speculating what it might have been like on the eve of Vesuvius’s cataclysmic eruption. I feel this is the strongest poem of this issue.

“diurnal/nocturnal” by David Kopaska-Merkel – Per the author, this is a Fibbonaci-no ku describing a tear in reality. The form for the poem is nice, giving an interesting, somewhat staccato flow to the words when read aloud. However, the author’s “fragmentary ideas” and fragmented imagery gives the poem a fragmentary feel. Without the author’s note at the end, I would have completely missed out on the intended context. On first read, after reading Swirsky’s poem, I thought it might be another piece describing a volcano. All the same, the night/day duality is explored well, and the language is nicely loaded for interpretation.

Moondance” by Mikal Trimm – A tribal chant describing “Nights of blood and hope and abandon.” A very dark feel pervades this piece.

“Time Ghosts by Ann K. Schwader – History repeats itself giving life to new ghosts which are the same as the old ghosts. A short, thought-provoking poem.

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