Quest for the Silver Shard by Adam O’Connell. A story about some fairy/pixie creatures, with a death by lawnmower at the end.
Oscars on the Rue Jules Verne by L Chan. A human actress leads some mole-people in combat, because the mole-people need pheromone signals from queens, but mole-people queens are too valuable to risk in combat. Apparently human pheromones work on alien mole-people, and also work through airtight combat suits.
Also, there’s a lesbian love affair. Why do authors keep doing this? It seems like there’s a limited group of people who want to read military sci-fi about mole-people, and a limited group of people who want to read about lesbian love affairs, and the intersection of the two has to be nearly zero. If I wrote a paper about the latest research in clam genetics combined with trends in bluegrass music, I wouldn’t expect anyone to read it, so why do SFF authors keep doing essentially the same thing?
The Destroyer by Calvin Demmer. In ancient Aegypt, a young girl is challenged by a god. The story fit in well with the setting/time period.
Three Graves on Io by Joshua Scully. A shuttle carrying four people crash-lands on Io. There’s enough power for one person to survive in a stasis pod until rescuers arrive. An intriguing setup, with varying character reactions.
Beneath Shadow by Sabrina West. A woman hunts a shadow-monster after it attacks her sister.
A Remedy for Memory by Kara Lee. The military has a memory-erasing machine to prevent PTSD, but one woman doesn’t want to lose her memories.
In terms of overall quality, I’d give this magazine around three stars out of five, with a rough breakdown of 50% four star and 50% two star stories. When I release my length-weighted rankings in 2018, the magazine will score lower, as its shorter stories were generally its better ones, but you may be surprised at some of the big names in sci-fi that Empyreome beats out.
In case you missed my earlier announcement: I’m skipping my intro stories for the rest of December’s reviews. [The crowd cheers] However, the intro stories will return in 2018 [The crowd lets out a disappointed “awww”] for round two, when I read additional issues of the top-performing magazines, and decide who the ultimate winner is.