Magazine: Phantaxis Nov 2016

PhantaxisPhantaxis Nov 2016

The following intro story will confuse you if you haven’t read my spaghetti western intro story:

My phone rings, waking me up at 5AM on a Saturday.  Resisting the urge to throw it against the wall, I answer it.  “You better have a good reason for calling.”

“Oh, I do indeed, sir.  I’m calling on behalf of Amalgamated Magazine Corporation, and they have authorized me to make you a special one-time offer.”

I recognize the voice immediately — it’s Talking Chicken.  I sit straight up in bed.  “You’re dead.  I saw Ob-ob shoot you.”

Talking chicken cackles.  “This isn’t reality.  This isn’t even a novel.  This is Short-Fiction Land.  There is no continuity here.”

I hang up and dial Bobo.  My call goes straight to voice mail, like it always does.  “Bobo, text me as soon as you get this.  Ob-ob might be back.”

Short Stories

The Joshua Complex by AJ Larson.  A long story about a relationship between a woman and an android.

Upgrade by Daniel Soule.  A go-nowhere story about people paying to have DNA-based software put in them.

A Question of Belonging by Karen Heslop.  A girl who reads books actually enters the novels, so this story alternates between her real life and her story life.  Neither held my interest.

Voltage Fighter Argent by Trey McIntosh.  A cheezy superhero story which can’t make up its mind whether the police are the good guys or the bad guys.

Rising Melody by Claire Davon.  A siren who cannot sing.  This story could have been a compelling introduction to some other story, but instead it covered the same ground repeatedly.

Dr. Foster by KI Borrowman.  A SETI researcher takes a trip with aliens, which of course allows him to reminisce about his family relationships for the entire story.

Project A.E.O. by Chance Barton.  A lifeform is birthed from a pod and goes to work in a city full of other such lifeforms.  There is a twist at the end which convinced me I’m either suffering from severe deja vu, or I read almost this exact story decades ago, by a more well-known author.

A Happy Coincidence by Gerri Leen.  A sorceress comes to the aid of a small town, with a nice twist at the end.

How Stanley Spencer Painted the Cookham Resurrection by Chris Barnham.  This is a timecop story, but I never understood why the thing they were going back to preserve had any importance whatsoever.  It’s like going back in time to prevent someone from eating Rice Krispies for breakfast.

In Glass by Richard Ankers.  A cyborg/environmental dystopia.

The Homunculus Mistake by Julie Dollar.  A mage creates a tiny creature, turns it into a huge demon that tries to kill him, then turns it back into a tiny creature.  Why?  I have no idea.

Transmit Soldier by AT Sayre.  This story is in second person.  The only legitimate use of second person I can imagine would be a story where the character is possessed by a demon or an alien, and not in control of their actions.  Even then, things could break down if the author had you comb your long red hair and admire your perky breasts in the mirror.

In the story, the forces of Earth are at war on some distant planet, which can only be reached by a jump gate.  Only machines can go through the jump gates, so digitized recordings of draftees are sent through on automated ships, then reconstituted on arrival.  The original draftees go about their normal lives, while their photocopies fight a war.  The story never explains why the Earth forces don’t just record a platoon of Army Rangers or Navy Seals and reconstitute them over and over until the war is finished.


  1. I suspect I know the answer, but, Transmit Soldier then isn’t about the draftees after their photocopies were made going back to life on at-war but not at-battlefield Earth? That seems like the side of a person-photocopier story that never gets featured.

    If the cyborgs in Richard Ankers’ story are literally cast out of mechanized glass then I’m in.

    1. There may have been a very brief bit of the originals’ stories post-photocopy, but not much. The originals did get to collect the military salary of their photocopy as long as it stays alive.

      It seems like most of the story was pre-photocopy, with the originals experiencing a lot of vague uneasiness and dread. Then, someone would say to them “hey, you’re not actually going anywhere, so it’s fine.” Then, of course, it switches perspective to the photocopies, who of course have all those same memories of everyone telling them they’re not going anywhere.

      If I remember correctly, Ankers’ cyborgs were indeed glass, and didn’t become cyborgs voluntarily. It’s a very artistic, rather than realistic, piece.

  2. Sounds like a crop of real “winners” here…

    1. Yeah, there were a couple of interesting points here and there, but nothing to justify wading through the dull stuff.

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