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THE IRONIC

Fantastic

99 tasty stories inside or maybe not!

A Tribute to the Absurdist Cosmos of Rhys Hughes September 2014 - Issue 3

Absurd Passion?

We've got that covered in this issue. We blow the reader's mind! In a simple and sweet way. We don't have rules! "Paradox is your pal."

edited by

Paulo Brito


Rhys Hughes Sayings and Paintings I used to think that a work of fiction should be like a game of chess between the author and the reader, but now I think it ought to be more like a dance instead, without a winner or loser, and with the opportunity to try many different styles... Just wandered into a room where some gorgons were partying and now I feel stoned.

I used to be a firefighter. We were always fighting, fire and I, in the house and in the street, even in front of our friends. Then I stopped fighting fire and we made up. We embraced, we kissed with tongues and now we're a good match. I will never understand writers who refuse to say anything 'controversial' for fear of 'losing readers'... If you are destined to be successful, you will succeed whatever you do. If you are destined to fail, ditto. Quit worrying about tactics and embrace fate... and fate will hug you back.

You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be in a successful relationship with an Aztec... Her name was Sue. Sue Generis. She never fitted in... Any sink worth its function will always prefer a shameless plug to a shameful one. Writers: take note! Be like a sink.

What do revolutionary doves say? "Coup coup!" Winepunk -- it's a new genre and it's a very good year!

Life is short. Like a dwarf. So for the sake of your elf, don't be orc-ward. Even when time seems to drag-on smiling isn't a bad hobbit.

Microfictions The first snake bit me and nothing happened. The second, third and fourth also had no discernible effect. But when the fifth bit me the venom made me dance. “That’s because it’s Mamba No.5,” a bystander remarked. “Please come back to me!” pleaded the man. But the woman merely wrote on a clipboard with a red pen. “I give the pimple on your nose six out of ten,” she said.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 3 02 / Sayings and Paintings :: by Rhys Hughes

05 / Balloom

:: cartoon by Pedro Lopes

06 / Of Those Immortal Dead :: story by Anatoly Belilovsky

08 / The Mellon Seller :: story by Rhys Hughes

10 / Obsessa et Capta and the Treasure of Mossu :: poem by João Matos

11 / Pagliacci The Manchurian Can’t-i-date :: stories by Garret Cook

THE IRONIC

Fantastic 3 A Tribute to the Absurdist Cosmos of Rhys Hughes

The IRONIC FANTASTIC is a proposed series of ebook/magazine anthologies that will showcase international absurdist, quirky, unusual, whimsical and ironic fiction from new and established writers. Each issue will appear irregularly and it will always be free. This project was inaugurated by the writer Rhys Hughes.

12 / The Orchid Forest :: story by Michael Bishop

20 / Quote by William Gerhardie

:: illustration by Pedro Lopes (suggested by Ian Towey) 46 / The Gospel of the Hanged 21 / One and Two :: review by Larry Nolen (Editor's Choice) :: books revelead 48 / Into the Spotlight 22 / Palms for the Squirrel :: Tartarus Press :: review by Larry Nolen 50 / Mr. Esgar Acelerado 23 / Synthetic Saints :: the cover visual artist :: review by Joe Iconic (Editor's Choice) 52 / Books That You Must Read 24 / Deconstructing Religion Through :: books that will change your life and books that will make you smarter Magical Realism :: essay by Robert Peake 54 / Rhys Hughes answers the Usual Questions 28 / The Artist :: interview to Rhys Hughes :: by Chris Harrendence 56 / Quote by Charlotte Brontë 29 / Portable Spill :: photo by Marie Lecrivain :: invention by Rhys Hughes 58 / Tree of Wishes 30 / Domestica :: photo by Gisela Monteiro :: story by Tantra Bensko 59 / Illustrations 31 / A Poem To Tickle :: by Pedro Carvalho

Chris Harrendence

:: poems by Paulo Brito

32 / IC the Static Iron Fan :: story by Andrew Coulthard

34 / Magic Realism :: essay by Rhys Hughes

36 / Books and Style :: with Kseniya Gomzjakova 37 / Am I Stuck Indoors? :: poem by Fiona Duffin

38 / Networking Rhymes :: poem by L.t. O'Rourke

60 / Illustrations :: by Carla Rodrigues

61 / Three and Four :: books revelead

62 / Feather by David Rix :: Editor's Choice

63 / Captains Stupendous! :: by Rhys Hughes

64 / Sun Dancing In Winter :: story by Fiona Duffin

65 / Alice Reloaded

:: story by Marie Lecrivain

:: comic by Carla Rodrigues 66 / Family Sunset :: comic by Win Leerasanthanah

:: poem by Fiona Duffin | photo by César Figueiredo

:: illustration by Diogo Carvalho

40 / Sisters

42 / To My Father 43 / Tube

:: illustration by Win Leerasanthanah

44 / Magical Realism in a Nutshell :: essay by Dr. Lois Parkinson Zamora

68 / Voyager Portal 69 / Five and Six

:: books revelead by David Soares

70 / Tallest Stories by Rhys Hughes :: review by Paulo Brito (Editor's Choice)


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 71 / Prozac :: story by Jason E. Rolfe 72 / An Early Grave :: story by Jason E. Rolfe 74 / The Unknown Adjective and Other Stories

111 / Being a Vampire Sucks!

76 / D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro :: photo by Gisela Monteiro

120 / And You Told me Again, You Prefer Handsome Men

:: story by Allen Ashley

122 / Being a Werewolf Bites the Big One

:: by Doug Skinner (Editor's Choice)

78 / In Search of Mammoths 80 / Songs for the Lost

:: by Alexander Zelenyj (Editor's Choice)

82 / Drawing out doors: Crow laughs :: comic by Pedro Lopes

83 / Best of All

:: story by Mark Terence Chapman

113 / Amerika In The Sky (In Memoriam) :: story by Boris Glikman

116 / The Sub-Basement :: story by Lou Antonelli

:: story by Garrett Cook

:: story by Mark Terence Chapman

123 / Quote by Gabriel García Márquez :: photo by David Rix

124 / The Young Generation

:: poem by Victor Davidson | illustration by Win Leerasanthanah

84 / And the Golem Played Jazz

125 / Quote by Stanisław Lem 126 / What Is Magical Realism, Really?

87 / The Girl in Red

129 / My Grandad

:: poem by A. Paul Estabrook :: story by Mat Joiner

:: story by Sissy Pantelis

89 / She Stood as Someone From the Dark :: poem by A. Paul Estabrook

:: essay by Bruce Holland Rogers :: poem by Phil Newman

130 / Quote by Rhys Hughes

90 / The Pianist

:: illustration by Chris Harrendence for Rhys Hughes Gibbon Moon imprint

91 / Air Coral

:: illustration by Zeeksie (http://zeeksie.deviantart.com)

:: illustration by Hugo Teixeira :: story by Caleb Wilson

93 / world small

:: poem by Michael H. Hutchins

93 / Geneologic Tree

:: illustration by Hugo Teixeira

94 / Quote by Daniil Kharms :: photo by César Figueiredo

96 / therapy

131 / Quote by Oscar Wilde

132 / Willing to Pass Through :: poem by A. Paul Estabrook

133 / Cold Teddy :: a tale by Rhys Hughes 133 / Editor Notes 134 / About You and I 151 / Some books by Rhys Hughes

:: story by Ian Towey

98 / Being a Zombie is No Picnic (it’s a Smorgasbord) :: story by Mark Terence Chapman

100 / Aquarium

:: story by Anne E. Johnson

102 / 1978

:: story by Ian Towey

103 / The mePhone :: story by Boris Glikman

105 / Quote by David Soares :: illustration by Sebastião Peixoto

106 / Revelata Subterranea :: poem by Boris Glikman

108 / The Garden or Hayfever!

:: poem by Victor Davidson | illustration by Hugo Teixeira

109 / Old Desires

:: poem by Victor Davidson

110 / Selfillumination

:: image AK3D | André kutscherauer

Editing and design by Paulo Brito Publisher: Gloomy Seahorse Press / 07.09.2014 ISBN: 978-1-326-00927-4


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 5

And so the rumor becomes true, that there are people with only air in their heads. ~ Pedro Lopes ~

All copyrights reserved to their respective owners.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Of Those Immortal Dead by Anatoly Belilovsky

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Paris (2009)

by Gisela Monteiro

The last screams of the mortal trespasser died down presently, and silence fell on Cimetière du PèreLachaise, an uneasy silence punctuated by the popping of sundered flesh and the crunching of bone on teeth, until a cloud slipped across the face of the full moon, and from the darkest recess of the cemetery a mumbling voice arose. “People taste strange when you are a zombie,” the voice crooned, “people taste weird, people are -braaains!” And from that quarter, slurping noises ensued. “This is so unfair,” a zombie dressed in an ill-fitting suit said. “He always gets the best pieces.” “What’s so unfair about that, Comrade Thorez?” another zombie said. “People come because of him, and some find themselves impelled to brave les flics and stay at his grave overnight. At midnight he comes out, et voila! - late supper. Or early breakfast.” He convulsed in a Gallic shrug, losing the last button from his shirt.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 7 “It is only because you are a, how you say, a Communist, that it irks you to see unequal division of the --” “Americans,” said Maurice Thorez. “Bourgeois pigdogs. They always think they are entitled to the best parts. Even here, in this cemetery.” He turned to a woman next to him. “You have all of America. Why don’t you simply stay there?” “Because,” said Gertrude Stein, “there is no there, there.” “There’s that,” said Thorez. “Still --” “It’s a disgrace, I tell you,” mumbled Marshal Ney around a mouthful of spleen. “To be confined to this little piece of land, behind a barred fence, to only be able to come out at night -- we should be free to march, across Paris, across France, across Europe --” “But not across Russia,” said Isadora Duncan. “They’d just kick your derrieres. Again.” She tossed a half-eaten pelvis in the air, kicked at it gracefully. It broke in three, pieces rolling across the gravestones. She looked at Chopin and grinned. “Yes?” said Chopin. “Just thinking,” said Duncan. “About what?” Chopin asked. “Partition of Poland,” she answered. “As metaphors go --” She bent to retrieve the nearest piece, took a bite out of it. “-- this one is delicious,” she mumbled. “Come now, Chopin,” said Bizet. “All you ever wrote were nocturnes. This night life should be very much to your liking.” Chopin picked at his teeth with a piece of ulna. “I see your point,” he said. But... To subsist on only the foolish souls who break in at night, to sleep at the graves of their idols...” “It’s fortunate,” said Oscar Wilde, “that there’s an infinite supply of foolish souls. And my admirers boast the most exquisite of tastes.” He turned to the undead man next to him. “Is that not so, Marcel?” A zombie to his left convulsed in an eloquent shrug. “I wasn’t talking to you, Marceau,” said Wilde. “It’s Monsieur Proust’s opinion I value. On matters of taste, at least.” “De gustibus non disputandum est,” said Proust. “That is my opinion. I regret that I can offer nothing else.” “I regret nothing,” said Edith Piaf. “As for admirers... Years ago, yes, they came in droves. Those were the days...” “I wish Rossini were still here, said Beaumarchais. “We could always pack ‘em in. My plays, his sublime music...” “And what am I?” said Chopin. “Chopped liver?” “We should be so lucky,” said Marshal Ney. “I could do with some liver. But no! Once again the American --” he pointed into the darkness “-- took it!” He shook his fist. A satisfied eructation was his answer. Ney sighed and shook his head. “Oh, face it, old boy” said Gertrude Stein. “No one wants to sleep on our graves any more. If it weren’t for Jimmy Morrison, we’d all be starving to death.”

Brankica Bozinovska is an illustrator and air traffic controller from Macedonia. A beautiful, stylish and multi-lingual lady in real life she is also a bold and wise fictional character in Hughes’ as-yet unpublished novel The Pilgrim’s Regress.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

The Melon Seller by Rhys Hughes The mythological giant named Atlas once only had to hold up the sky, but later it was decided that it was necessary for him to prop the Earth on his shoulders instead. It was mapmakers who were responsible for this, when they first began to collect their charts together in bound volumes called atlases, because they felt that a classical figure of such mighty proportions was the only one appropriate to represent their achievement, but as they had mapped the ground and not the heavens the role of the titan had to change. In our modern age it has changed yet again, for with the advent of satellite mapping, in which the land is charted from the sky, there is no need for him to carry anything on his shoulders. Or rather: if he continued to do so, he would get in the way, become a visible obstruction, a nuisance, and at some point the order to destroy him with missiles would be given. Luckily he is very old now and has withered to the size of a normal man and thus he can take his place unnoticed in our society, an obscure fellow dwelling in a provincial town. And in his new life, in the shop he owns, he will often exchange speculations with the few regular customers who pass through his door, and one of his most favoured topics is whether the other worlds in the solar system have an Atlas of their own, an interplanetary colossus to keep them afloat

John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925) Atlas and the Hesperides (oil on canvas)

on the black currents of outer space. The general consensus is that yes, they must have done once, but no longer do. And depending who the customer is, they are either humouring him or in deadly earnest, and he is fully aware of this. “Even the sun had an ‘Atlas’ when it was cooler than it is now, but he wasn’t a flesh fellow. No, he was a mechanical man made from asbestos. All the same, he had to constantly shift the sun from one shoulder to another to avoid burning up. Eventually the reactions inside the sun caused it to burn more brightly and the Asbestos Atlas vaporised and the sun had nothing to keep it afloat anymore. It plopped into the vacuum and was carried by the thick black currents away from where it should have been and everyone was alarmed.” It was Helios who spoke, a retired god. “And you saw this with your own eyes?” asks Atlas. “No, it was before my time... but I have it on reliable authority. All the bearers of the other worlds stamped their feet to create waves that would knock the sun away from them, for they feared they would get burned if it approached too close, and soon all the forces balanced out and the sun ended up at the centre of the orbits of the planets and the Earth began moving around it too, for it was safer that way.” “I remember none of this.” “You were holding up the sky at the time, not the Earth.” “Who built the asbestos giant?”


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 9 Helios shrugs. Another customer enters the shop and Atlas forgets his own question and redirects his attention to the new arrival, who pauses for only a moment before making his wishes known. This customer is possibly not a god or hero and certainly isn’t a regular, for Atlas has never seen him before. But even ordinary people buy and eat melons from time to time and is there any reason why they should be prevented from doing so? The man leaves the shop with his burden carried on one shoulder and a crooked arm to keep it in place, an enormous green watermelon. It is getting late and the sun is setting and Atlas is eager to close for the night and make his way home. He politely urges Helios to hurry and the former deity departs with a bright yellow honeydew cradled under his arm, the hollow soles of his rubber shoes hissing air and sounding like the sizzle of a miniature sun. How many customers have entered and left this shop bearing fruits like reduced celestial bodies over the years? Too many to count and yet not enough to make his business more than a very modest success. No matter. Debts weigh less than the heavens. He locks the door of the shop behind him but this is unnecessary really. The sleeping stone giant curled around the building wakes and yawns and rolls his eyes and then with an exasperated granite sigh stands and lifts the shop high into the air. Only an exceptional thief, one with wings on his ankles, could ever break into it at that elevation, held steady at the furthest reach of outstretched arms, among the clouds and circled by birds with sharp beaks. Who built the giant? Atlas doesn’t waste time on speculation. One day this extraordinary inventor will enter his shop to purchase a cantaloupe. Everywhere he passes, other shops are being hoisted into the air by similar colossi. These beings are purely nocturnal and when the sun rises the following morning they will gently sink back down to the ground and into sleep. They are the dark counterparts of the giants who keep domestic properties aloft while their owners are away at work. This is a provincial town with only a few thousand of each kind of stone giant. Their combined breathing and snoring doesn’t disrupt the serenity of any citizen who has no secret worries of his or her own, as it does in the cities. Atlas steps carefully over a line of ants that are crossing the road, each bearing a roughly spherical burden that could be a crumb of cake or an entire populated and generally baffled world.

story n.º 742

Tasty News!

Experiments at 3 Billion A.M. Eibonvale Press

will be doing a new edition of Alexander Zelenyj's Experiments at 3 Billion A.M. Windblown wildernesses; celestial fire; women from the moon; inexplicable phenomena in sleeping counties and visions of blood amid mazes of urban sprawl; tales culled from subterranean depths, from the A.M. darkness and from stolen afternoons of nostalgic sunlight and weeping rains…

Eibonvale Press is a small British press run by people who loves books – as simple as that. It is not intended to be particularly commercial or to make large sums of money for anyone concerned, but it aims to produce beautiful and lovinglydesigned editions of excellent writing in modern horror, magic realism and the surreal.


Obsessa et Capta and the Treasure of Mossu by Jo達o Matos

In the same way that the knot was cuted Tiro was conquered almost without loosing forces. The carriage, separated from the column, legitimated the lineage. The epigones of Midas, from the tribes of Skandar - grandchildren of those who, fulfilling the prophecy, came to town in a oxcart solve the complicated always in the simplest form: Fencing, capture, and disappear without a trace. That is the way, from the landfill that down any wall, you could chase every descendents of the Amena Water Kingdom and their fleets.

After crossing the Tigris, in the opposite side of the low mountains, one advances towards the front line in a obliquely formation, with one late wing. The most extreme heat is avoided like this while it decimates those who started the emancipation of slaves from Finem Terrarum to Arbela.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 11 From the utopia series by César Figueiredo

Garret Cook

Julie Newmar Stories Pagliacci

The Manchurian Can’t-i-date

Julie Newmar walks into my office wearing a pig on her head. “Is this some kind of joke?” I ask. “Why do you say that?” Julie Newmar asks, looking around the room for Lionheads. I answer my email. I ignore her. I go shopping. I take the sled I bought and careen down Everest. I break every bone in my body and end up in the hospital. The Surgeons confer and decide that I have been dead for eleven years. Julie Newmar walks into my hospital room with a pig on her head. The pig laughs at us. She lies down beside me in my hospital bed. Frightened, we await the dawn and the extinction of Surgeons.

Julie Newmar is running for president. She has an assassination fetish. I’m curare’d up and standing on a building. She is giving a speech on how assassins are pussies. A man dressed like me has a question. Turns out it’s me. Which is odd because I’m standing on that building. “Will you marry me?” “Yes,” she says, looking up at that building. I am confused. Do I kill her? Do I marry her? Do I fuck her? This game is hard. The crowd disperses. Julie Newmar clutches her neck. She falls down. “Avenge me,” she says. “Marry me.” We do.

The Time Pimp has been saving the galaxy by getting history's most important figures laid. From Caligula to Teddy Roosevelt, the Time Pimp has rolled up to the scene in his interstellar purple Cadillac and got them some ass. But a new power threatens the future of the Time Pimp - The Morality Front, a prudish force hell-bent on imposing its values on the galaxy. With the aid of the Death Pimp they will stop at nothing to end Free Love across time and space. "One part Doctor Who, one part Hustler Magazine, and the most fun you'll have reading cosmic smut." - Jeff Burk, author of Shatnerquake "A wonderfully ridiculous book... delivers imagination balanced by genuinely caring and adept writing." - Kris Saknussemm, author of The Humble Assessment


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The Orchid Forest:

A Metafactual Narrative Introduction to The Crystal Cosmos by Miguel Obispo 1

I In the summer of 2006, editor Nicholas Gevers approached me on behalf of publisher Peter Crowther about writing an introduction to a novella, “The Crystal Cosmos,” by one Rhys Hughes, or Huw Rees. In my self-enforced isolation on a tepui, or highland mesa, between Venezuela and Guyana, I knew almost nothing about Mr Hughes, but because I often try to inject fresh oil into the exhausted motor of my grey matter, I accepted—on two conditions: first, that PS Publishing send me a hard copy of the aforesaid novella and, second, that they arrange for the author to come to my modest dwelling overlooking Baja Amazonia. I wanted to pick Mr Hughes’s brain, as one would a walnut’s nutritious lobes. Mr Crowther and Mr Gevers agreed, although neither knew exactly where Mr Hughes had betaken himself, for as a member of a band called Sir Tao he and his mates had journeyed to Urga, Mongolia, or to Zenda, Ruritania, if not to an unpronounceable town in Finland, for a one-city tour, on the promise of a key to that city and a lifetime’s supply of yak milk or sea scallops. Little did I then know that, in advance of these events, a perfumer from Cologne, Germany, the famous Odora Patrice, had mounted an expedition to an orchid forest in the least accessible declivity of Baja Amazonia, below and south of my home, to conduct chemical analyses on the sensuous array of fragrances emitted by these epiphytes—activity that would bear stock dividends once Ms Patrice returned to civilization and decanted these aromas into salable product. Unfortunately, less than two weeks after her plunge into the jungle, Ms Patrice went missing. Her ePod fell silent, and all e-pistolary messaging ceased. By a coincidence on the edge of farfetched, an executive-level hireling of Odora Patrice had somehow contacted Mr Hughes (or Mr Rees) in Urga, or Zenda, or wherever, and by fervid appeals to both his sympathy and his pocketbook persuaded him to mount a search for the lost perfumer. By a further unlikely coincidence, Rhys—for he and I

soon got on a first-name basis—decided to seek entry to the orchid forest from Condor’s Loft, the very tepui to which I, Miguel Obispo, had retired from my suburban finca southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. Incredible! And auspicious! Amazingly, then, Rhys knocked on my door a week after I agreed to pen (for I use a Pilot Precise V5, with a rolling-ball tip, rather than a PC for all my first drafts) my intro to “The Crystal Cosmos.” I opened, and there he stood, his band mates behind him and their battered panel truck in my plantedged driveway. When he said, “Hello, I’m Rhys Hughes,” I slapped my hand to my brow, thereby demonstrating for Sir Tao, and indeed for myself, the exact sound of one hand clapping— when given a small wall of bone to percuss against. “Rhys Hughes!” I cried. “The author of Worming the Harpy (1995), Eyelidiad (1996), The Smell of Telescopes (2000), The Percolated Stars (2003), A New Universal History of Infamy (2004), and both ‘Twentieth-Century Chronoshock’ and ‘Ebercitas’ in The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases (2003)—plus an assortment of other works, both long and short, too vast to register as credible in an impromptu burst of dialogue?2 Are you that Rhys Hughes?” My visitor put a finger to his lips. One of his band mates, meanwhile, grasped a palm tree near my porch and, with the serrated tip of his tongue, carved into its bole the enigmatic initials E. M. R. “The Rhys Hughes who’s vowed to write one thousand ‘items’ of fiction over the course of his mortal span, many if not all linked with internal links either conspicuous or clandestine, a feat worthy of Shahrazad?” “The same, Señor Obispo. May we go inside?” 1 - This is Rhys Hughes’s 612th piece of fiction in his projected life’s work of one thousand discrete, albeit subtly linked, items of fiction. However, Michael Bishop, aka Miguel Obispo, has usurped his prerogative to write it, as gift and tribute, and Mr Hughes has graciously accepted both. 2 - I pronounced the symbol & “ampersand,” for it’s hard to voice a sign or a diacritical mark aloud unless you are the late Victor Borge, who Miguel Obispo most emphatically isn’t.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 13 Directing Rhys and his posse (save, out of respect for my alpaca carpet, the fellow with the bloody tongue) to my patio on the edge of the panoramic Baja Amazonia, I said, “The Rhys Hughes who once entertained the notion that he was the reincarnated self of either Gustav Holt, Christopher Marlowe, or the zipa—which is to say, the emperor—of the Muisca culture of the Cordilla Oriental?” “Shhh,” said my guest, less embarrassed than fatigued, for he and his mates had come a long way in their panel truck, which one of them had christened—accurately—Nowhere Near Milkwood (2002). Then, with the whole crew seated at my glasstopped patio table, I brewed several varieties of coffee—cappuccino, mocha, espresso, and chicory blend—which I served in outsized demitasses. I also rolled out an old portable radiator from which I dispensed fortifying Vidalia onion soup, a comestible I keep ready for drop-ins of whatever ethnic, socioeconomic, creedal, or psychosexual background. Further, to underscore the earnestness of my desire to please, three or four nude young women passed continually back and forth through my living room, as did a pair of close-shaved civets. I sat down with the guys to some soup of my own. A condor soared below us in the enormous green declivity. “The Rhys Hughes who wrote the novella ‘The Crystal Cosmos,’ which I read on Tuesday in the French magazine Fiction, an English version of the same work at hand as Rosetta stone and crib sheet?” “You do go on, don’t you?” said lead singer Antonio Luís, using an old-fashioned fountain pen and ink made from the Paraguayan guabirá fruit to caricature me, savagely, on a napkin. “I love the contrapuntal structure of ‘The Crystal Cosmos,’” I told Rhys. “I love its inversion of expectations—objects in freefall dropping at different speeds, a ‘scientific heretic’ who denies the ‘random origin of the universe’—and all the perspective-altering observations and metaphors.” “Oh, lord, like what?” asked another band member. “Well, like ‘Furnishings rarely survived dimensional transition’ owing to ‘the inherent instability of fashion, the most frictionless of substances.’ Woo-woo.” I grinned in delight, and a rufous glow suffused Rhys’s face. Antonio said, “Jeez, you’ve memorized it.” “And then there’s ‘Shortening like a fuse, the chalk moved Cankar’s fingers closer to the board.’

See what I mean? In Rhys’s unconventional take, it’s the chalk performing the act, not the human character whom the conventional writer would willynilly designate the actor.” “So Rhys is weird,” Antonio said. “Does that make him a better writer than he is a drummer or a wine taster?” “Writing makes him a writer,” I said. “Processing the weirdness into a story that dances the reader along its narrative line makes him a writer. I know next to zilch about drumming. As for wine—” To begin drawing Part I of my introduction to a close, Antonio inked a cartoon universe on the inside of his expanding demitasse. Rhys explained that the band had accompanied him to Condor’s Loft only so that he could embark on his quest for Odora Patrice, Queen of Perfumery, a quest he meant to undertake alone, as he also did most of his prose expeditions. And so, before bidding his mates adieu, he collected some equipment from the panel truck: a backpack, a large nylon bag, a colorful woolen serape, etc. As soon as Sir Tao drove off toward the auto lift on my tepui’s northern flank, I begged Rhys to let me accompany him on his search for Ms Patrice. Why else would this series of coincidences—which in the paranoid imagination do not exist—have united us on a cliff above Baja Amazonia? He had no ready answer, or none that he cared to voice, and so I assumed myself his partner.

II The next morning we parasailed into the basin, an altwhere adjacent to my house in real-time Venezuela or Guyana. (The territory is in dispute.) First, though, we galloped in harness along a thirtymeter plank extending from a southern gable and leapt into the air space separating the two realities. We penetrated the invisible integument sheathing Baja Amazonia, reoriented to its scents and humidity, and plunged on a vigorous slant toward the broccoli-topped jungle thousands of feet below.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

III There on the river shore we piled our gear aboard an abandoned raft called The Darktree Wheel and paddled it off toward the dense downstream interior, our parasail wings raised on a bamboo mast. All about us rested our backpacks of clothes, provisions, and reading material: A Vindication of Eternity, 3 - Under Heaven’s Bridge by Ian Watson and Michael Bishop (UK: Gollancz, 1980), or Under Heaven’s Bridge by Michael Bishop and Ian Watson (US: Ace, 1982). 4 - Attacus Atlas, an Indo-Australian species that I have shown to astonished visitors at the Day Butterfly House in Callaway Gardens, Georgia.

From the book Obscurum Nocturnus

let’s italicize it now—in which all the spaceships— transdimensional vehicles, I should probably say—and some other types of transport all bear the names of Ian Watson novels: The Fire Worm, The Jonah Kit, The Embedding, and so on.” “All titles I recall with great fondness. And you trigger your own idea avalanches with admirable panache.” The wings of our parasail, I noted glancing up, resembled those of the Atlas moth4, each of which carries on its outer upper surface an image of the head and the first third of the body of a tropical serpent. I relaxed a little, knowing that no condor would dare snatch Rhys and me from the sky for its breakfast. “Thanks,” said Rhys. “I’m delighted you approve.” We soared for a good half hour before setting down more or less smoothly on a space break shaped like a swatch of river shore. Just before we did, though, I asked him if by any chance he’d known Odora Patrice before her sub-exec importuned him to try to rescue her. “Every impoverished freelance fabulist should know a perfumer,” he replied.

by Diogo Carvalho

Amid the green, to the far southwest, rippled a host of dun-colored mounds with visible topographic lines of umber and sienna; these made my eyes water and my psyche swim. “At the Manholes of Madness (2006)!” I shouted into Rhys’s ear, for he had the front spot in our tandem glide. “Ah,” he said, “a retrospective of my ‘transgressive’ tales from 1991 to 2003, and one of my nastiest books—not at all like ‘The Crystal Cosmos.’ Don’t think about it, and if you’re getting queasy, don’t focus on those test-pattern mounds either.” I asked if the transdimensional vehicles in ‘The Crystal Cosmos’ bore the titles of early Ian Watson novels for any specific reason. (Ian and I had once fabricated an ocean-spanning bridge3 and then sold it on either side of that structure, and so I still bore him a continent’s worth of goodwill.) “‘The Crystal Cosmos’ is an Ian Watson tribute story,” Rhys shouted over his shoulder. “Although I haven’t read his stuff for several years, as a student I loved his short stories, which I ravenously devoured.” “What did you like about them?” “Everything. Watson’s upbeat, ideas-based style recalled Stanislaw Lem’s, especially Lem’s approach in The Cyberiad.” “And so you just had to do this latter-day hommage?” “Absolutely. I wanted to capture certain impressive elements in early Watson stories: the avalanche of strange ideas, the quirky characters, the continual nods at Space Opera.” In our glide, we could make out jungle-capped mesas, braided waterfalls and their spectral mists, the coppery gleam of a river, and slash-and-burn scars spicing the air with an acrid, out-of-place patchouli. “Boy oh boy, do you get the quirky characters,” I said. “Terence Cankar, the interdimensional entrepreneur; Sappho Ritsos, the Trust agent with the adamantine ego; Daphnis, the goatherd reluctantly evolving his own hypotheses about astronomy in an apparent pocket world where America doesn’t exist; and Gnathon, the mechanical golem. What a cast of characters!” “Well, that part about the nonexistence of America may have had a post-Iraq-invasion wishfulfillment component.” “I daresay.” “No offense.” “None taken.” “Anyway, thus I wrote The Crystal Cosmos—


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 15 European Spoons before 1700, Babel for Beginners, Wonderlusts, Confessions of a Medicated Lurker, Shane, Moorcock for Connoisseurs, and the W. H. Hudson classic Purple Mansions and Emerald Loam. On our journey Rhys sucked down this last title as hungrily as he did trail mix, energy bars, and cocoaenameled scorpion tails. Conspicuous near the mast of The Darktree Wheel lay the pink and brown nylon bag that he had taken from the truck before the expeditious exit of his band members. “How do you know Odora Patrice?” I asked to deflect my interest in this bag. “During my expatriate Steppenwolf Scout days in Cologne, she served as my den mother. Before our hikes into the Black Forest, she daubed badger musk behind our ears—a synthetic stand-in, actually— to prevent our dismemberment at the paws of marauding lycanthropes. I fell for Fraulein Patrice hard, but I was nine and she had a good two decades on me. Also, my jealous den mates begrudged me even a wayward scent of her. “At length, Miguel, I begged my parents to strip me of my solitary merit badge—in contrapuntal mythmaking—and take me home to Wales.” Rhys declined to vouchsafe more, his thumb interposed between the purple and green pages in the berrystained and mildewed Hudson tome. Finished reading, Rhys hunkered near the stern scribbling in the blank flyleaves at the back of Purple Mansions. So intently did he write—with a No. 2 pencil periodically sharpened by raft-trailing piranhas—that I had no heart to interrupt. Midday emerged from morning, afternoon from noon, and leaf-shaded twilight from the faunhaunted afternoon. Now the rain-forest understory rattled like plastic in a paper shredder, for a bestiary of strange creatures growled, whined, and paced on either bank of the narrowing Amazonian tributary, Rhys in the role of innocent Huck and I in that of African-American Jim. Although free as a buccaneer on our raft, I felt captive to an antique deadline. “If you’re worried about a missed deadline,” Rhys said, “why don’t you find some vacant flyleaves in these books”—gesturing—“and do as I do?” He waggled his No. 2 pencil. His clairvoyance took me aback. Either he had read my mind or the text before you, reader, at this precise transtemporal moment. What could I say? The cough of a jaguar (Panthera onca), the snort of a peccary (Tayassu tajacu), and the whirr of a flight of Amazonian hummingbirds spoke my inarticulate wonder for me.

“I suggest this,” Rhys said, “only because my life is utterly chaotic. There’s no stability to it at all. I try to write every day, but many days I get no chance. Although I prefer to write mornings, if I have to—as you can see—I’ll write anywhere and anywhen, including aboard The Darktree Wheel here in the Orinoco Declivity.” “Why do you write what you write?” “Because it isn’t there . . . until I do.” Rhys squinted into the dark. “What do you hope to accomplish in your creation of one thousand subtly linked fictions— beyond the satisfaction of a private aesthetic?” Despite admitting that in talking aloud, he fails to “finish sentences properly” and explains most matter “in a convolute way,” Rhys launched into a rhapsodic apologia that I found enlivening: “I write to grind lenses for eyeless seers—to give palpability to the dreams of untouchables—to put music in the mouths of beautiful mutes. (But bollocks to mimes!) I write to attach working ears to the heads of the aggressively deaf—to Velcro savor receptacles to the tongues of those with neither tang nor taste. In short, mi amigo Miguel, I write to hypodermize the anhedonic.” “Well put.” Yet it seemed to me that something from this sensuous list was, like Odora Patrice, missing. Unhappily, I couldn’t put my finger either on or in it. Happily, as a medicine for our melancholy, a pregnant moon hung like a piñata over boundless Baja Amazonia; and we floated into oxbow lakes teeming with laughing carnivorous fish (piranhahas), dolphins with pinkish hides (freshwater cousins of Moby K. Dick, the Paranoia Whale), and manatees favoring mermaids in the doubtful way that the sainted Mama Cass favored Olive Oyl. Our raft carried us into many lagoons. Indeed, we traversed these specific ones and lingered in several to plumb their peculiarities: • The Lagoon of Lagostas: always boiling and perfused throughout by threads of coconut butter • The Lagoon of Sighs • The Lagoon of Influences: from which there arose, like greasy statues on pneumatic pedestals, literary figures who had directly or indirectly shaped the oeuvre of my raft mate, including Jorge Luís Borges, H. P. Lovecraft, Maurice Richardson, Wm. Hope Hodgson, Milorad Pavic, Italo Calvino, John Sladek, R. A. Lafferty (I’m guessing), and Gertrude


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 Q. Stein, whom neither of us recognized • The Lagoon of Dropped Names: see previous bullet or next bullet but one • The Oxbow Lake of Bovines in Bows • The Lagoon of Buccaneers: Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, Robert Newton, Sterling Hayden, Gina Davis, and Johnny Depp rose and fell on pneumatic pedestals, each with either a cutlass or a parrot. Blackbeard also put in an appearance, but we didn’t recognize him either • The Lagoon of Lacunas • The Lagoon of Protracted Introductions In this last oxbow lake, we spent two or three hours, sweating like tea glasses and bored to tears by many recurrent laps. Our last lap featured a pelaton of bicycle-centaurs, several of whom, bore on their arms the Day-Glo motto “A Lagoon Needs a Tour Like a Fish Needs a Pedicure.” Despite these amusements, the night seemed endless. Then dawn burst brilliantly—an explosion of cockatoos, cockatrices, flamingos, macaws, orioles, parakeets, parrots, toucans, two-banded warblers, and feather boas in pressurized tins. This was of course a false dawn, but the real one, without birds or boas, followed soon after, or else Rhys or I might have strangled each other. “Patrice-ward ho!” said Rhys in some annoyance.

IV A manguar—half sleek-headed human being, half velvet-footed jaguar—appeared amid the foliage behind a dilapidated boat dock, at which we clumsily tied up, and led Rhys and me farther inland. “How did you know we’d arrived?” I asked the creature. “I smelled you,” she purred in a voice as furry as her pelt, but, on this leg of our trek, spoke not another word. We grokked that escorting us to our next staging area—as she seemed intent on doing—was for her a painful task, and the backpacks we bore and the nylon bag we switched back and forth contributed to our sad malodorousness. At length we broke upon a

hemp-entwined helicopter of ancient vintage, with the name Ghoulysses stenciled in fatigue-green on its camouflaged fuselage. Our manguar guide used its teeth and hands to drag the frayed rope blanket aside before slinking off into and merging with the jungle. Two or three canisters of aviation fuel huddled under Ghoulysses’s belly, and we poured their contents into the helicopter’s tank via a funnel that had been tied to one of the canisters. Ten more minutes of straining, sweating, and cursing got us precariously aloft, and we side-slipped over the broccoli tops and bromeliads toward some trees that poked up through the canopy bearing upon them the provocative bodies of orchid after orchid—first only a few, and then more and more. We saw fleshy salmon-colored throats and tongues: crimsoned or silvered or spider webbed in pseudographite along their delicate edges, all silently heralding the forest of our quest. And then—bang!—Rhys set us down in a clearing back from whose periphery a bivouac of scattered scarlet tents throbbed in the understory like disembodied mammoth hearts. Odora Patrice— enormous chocolate eyes, tiny valentine mouth, charming ski-slope nose—sauntered out to greet us. “I’m not lost,” she announced belligerently. “I’m frustrated. These epiphytes have no scent whatever, when they should overwhelm this basin with a medley of subtle essences and/or obnoxious emanations.” Rhys and I leapt down from Ghoulysses. “I’ve stayed out here struggling to understand the irksome anomaly of their absent fragrances, and I am not lost!” Ms Patrice concluded. “A big ambition,” Rhys said, and he and the mad perfumer embraced in a region of scentlessness (minus even the scalds of rotor grease and spent helicopter fuel) unlike any I had ever known. “No bigger an ambition,” said Odora Patrice, “than the novel you plan to write at fifty, an epic bridging 270 generations, from early Sumer to an altwhere in which hapless American Democrats regain control of their country’s bicameral parliament.”

Michael Bishop

with a copy of Just Not So Stories; this book is dedicated to him.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 17

She miss-kissed Rhys on both his feverish cheeks. “This is mi amigo Miguel Obispo,” said Rhys, nodding at me. With blistering unconcern Odora Patrice said, “Him I can smell. In plunging with you into this dimension his identity has apparently shifted. Look: He has a monobrow, three fingers on his left hand, and an odd epidermal residue of grey tepui grit.” “Thank you,” I said. For, in truth, the disappearance of my left ring finger and pinkie alarmed me, and the identification of one’s shortcomings, even by an egotistical boor, warrants grateful acknowledgment. At this point, Rhys indicated the tent beneath the undercarriage of Ghoulysses and three pairs of bloody legs protruding from the flattened canvas. “Never mind them,” Odora said. “That’s my chemist, my specialist in exotic flora, and my hairstylist. Good riddance to all three. Together, that prostrate lot had the motherwit of a bag of hammers. Oh, brothers, where art thou!” she of a sudden wailed, and off in the misty distance I heard, or supposed I did, that dueling-banjo number from the film Deliverance. Rhys flinched away: Your Saturated Stockings is another projected title that he hasn’t yet written, the middle volume in a series that he calls The Unfeasible Footwear Trilogy. But he quickly recovered and said: “Realistic tales about Wales—Wales, not whales— don’t excite me as much as do stories popping with speculation, invention, and extrapolation, whether

feasible or -un.” “Never mind that, either,” Odora said. “Why don’t these orchids—” she meant the epiphytes in the forest canopy—“smell? They do me no good at all if they refuse to smell.” Rhys turned to me. “Hand me that bag.” He meant the pink and brown one that we had toted in from Condor’s Loft, and that Rhys himself had brought all the way from Mongolia, or Ruritania, or Finland. I fetched this bag, all lumpy and shiftriven as it was, and swung it into his grip. “In the altwhere of Baja Amazonia,” Rhys said, “no sensation can impact the world without an organ proper to both its transmission and reception, and only those grown or grafted here have the ability to transmit or receive.” “God, I despise rubber-science info-dump dialogue!” said Odora. “Can’t you tell me in demotic non-Greek what the hell you’re talking about?” “To smell,” Rhys replied, “your orchids need noses, and I’ve brought a hundred or so cloned canine nostrils, in loose sustaining nasal mulch, to transplant to the pseudo-bulbs of the epiphytes above. Once these nosebuds take, they’ll crossnasify with orchids still lacking the organ, by means of histaminic nebulization and rhinoviral infectoring, until every orchid has a nosebud and every epiphyte a scent—whereupon this fragrance-free zone of Baja Amazonia will have aromas all its own, not just the egregious stinks of trespassers like Miguel and me or your own traveling perfumery.” Odora kissed Rhys full on the forehead. “I almost understood that,” she said. “Thank God you came.”

V Spider monkeys performed the nostril transplants. Odora Patrice’s cagey female porters trained the little simians to do so, promising them more seductive offal and tastier gone-off plantains if they cooperated. I even grafted a couple of nosebuds to epiphytes myself, exhilarated by the canopy crawling required to complete the task and gratified to find a network of monkey-maintained liana bridges in this domain to facilitate the transplants—although, prior to our coming, the spidery guys had used them for treetop travel and rest stops. Within a week, the orchid forest teemed with fragrances. Odora Patrice decanted from a psychedelic flower mash a scent that evoked her personality, a perfume that Rhys described as “smooth but fiery,


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 like honey and pepper.”5 We could hardly tear ourselves away from Odora’s presence, so siren-like was her olfactory signature. No one wanted to leave. We inhaled scents more efficiently and pleasurably than we drank in sights, or manufactured textures, or heard the savors of tart bromeliads, or tasted the faint carolings of our quasar-spangled cosmos. In the presence of Rhys’s former den mother, we had attained a kind of sensory apotheosis. At last, though, Rhys told Odora that he must leave: “I have travels to pursue, music to make, pictures to take, yarns to spin, and from all this stirring activity a rich literary continuum to frame and fill.” Odora acquiesced in his ardor to depart, but not without a grudging grip on his elbow. “Before you leave, at least let me read your latest.” “The Crystal Cosmos?” “If that’s it title, then yes yes yes yes—yes.” But I hadn’t brought my hard copy with us, either the printout in English or the French magazine version in, well, French. After all, one can carry only so much gear when dimension diving. Odora stamped her foot, and crushed the head of a newly hatched Colombian boa, H. mutisiana. We recoiled from such vehemence, and I, by a handiness spawned by existential dread and patrician repugnance, contrived to reconfigure her ePod to broadcast again. I text-messaged Pete Crowther a request for another copy of The Crystal Cosmos, along with our coordinates, as best Rhys and I could construe them. Believe it or don’t, the following afternoon— Odora had persuaded us to defer our leave taking— an international mail plane flew over, dipped toward our clearing, and unloaded, in a brown-paper wrapper, another printout of Rhys’s little book, which kicked up leaf mulch when it hit. A Post-It note attached to the title page said, “Here is Mr Hughes fine story. Enjoy.” It was signed Tristão and Alfredo, two Portuguese postmen who had once lost their jobs for deep-sixing sacks of mail6, but who had obviously fully redeemed themselves to qualify for and then to carry out so successfully this highprofile transdimensional delivery. “Ah, that’s better,” said Odora Patrice. Rhys and I gathered our belongings and tiptoed toward the helicopter, for which we had earlier fermented a batch of plantain juice for fuel. Odora dragged a canvas-bottomed folding chair from one of her porter’s tents. “Now,” she announced to our backs, opening the chair, “I’m going to sit

right down and treat myself to this superlative novella.” And now, dear reader, you should do exactly the same.

5 - See, in English if possible, the title story in the Portuguese collection A Sereia de Curitiba (2007), “The Mermaid of Curitiba,” which has also appeared in the magazine Postscripts. 6 - See “All for Nothing” in A Sereia de Curitiba, if you can read Portuguese. Or petition the author for a hard copy in English, meanwhile offering to pay both printing costs and postage.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 19

"Several years ago the genius writer Michael Bishop postmodernly, jestingly and excellently wrote my 612th story for me, to save me the trouble. The result was a piece that formed the introduction to my novella The Crystal Cosmos and was entitled 'The Orchid Forest: a Metafactual Narrative Introduction to THE CRYSTAL COSMOS by Rhys Hughes, by Miguel Obispo'. The number 612 was plucked at random. Back then it seemed that I would never actually reach that number myself, or anywhere near it...

him. His story is 4467 words long; as a mark of respect I made my story 4466 words long, one less."

- Rhys Hughes

Transmigrating the Bishop (2011) is the 615th story and has published in The Crystal Cosmos eBook edition of 2012.

by Carlos Rocha

Jekyll and Mr Hughes

But in November 2011, I finished writing my 612th story. Not really wanting to skip from 611 to 613, I made sure that the 612th was about Michael Bishop, the same way his story is about me. In his tale explorers set off in search of me; so in my tale explorers set off in search of


“Rank lies, or course. I cannot help it. I am like that imaginative� ~ The Polyglots by William Gerhardie ~


One and Two

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 21

The Rhymer an Heredyssey by Douglas Thompson

Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication today of Douglas Thompson’s, The Rhymer, an Heredyssey, which has already been praised by renowned writer and essayist Rhys Hughes as “simply stupendous”. Thompson, chairman of the Scottish Writers’ Centre in Glasgow, has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and online. About Douglas Thompson Douglas Thompson’s short stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, most recently Albedo One, Ambit, Postscripts, and New Writing Scotland. He won the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989 and second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007. His first book, Ultrameta, published in 2009, was nominated for the Edge Hill Prize and shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award, and since then he has published four subsequent novels, Sylvow, Apoidea, Mechagnosis, Entanglement and has two more forthcoming, The Brahan Seer and Volwys.

The Galaxy Club by Brendan Connell "The Galaxy Club offers its readers an imaginative run through time. Chômu Press’ mission, ‘[to] make literature exciting and vital once more,’ is realized in Connell’s title. (February 2014)" by Corinne Bennett “ C o n n e l l ’ s language is poetic, both in the sense that he stretches punctuation and grammar to achieve tone and voice, and that sentences or whole pages are sometimes so musical that you have to stop and re-read them out loud to be sure you heard yourself correctly inside your head.” - by Djibril al-Ayad About The Author Brendan Connell was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970. He has had fiction published in numerous places, including McSweeney’s, Adbusters, Fast Ships, Black Sails (Nightshade Books, 2008), and the World Fantasy Award winning anthologies Leviathan 3 (The Ministry of Whimsy, 2002), and Strange Tales (Tartarus Press, 2003).


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Palms for the Squirrel David Soares and Pedro Serpa, Palmas Para O Esquilo A few weeks ago, Portuguese writer David Soares contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reading a new graphic novel he had recently published. Not being familiar with the title of the work, I said yes, as Soares, in my opinion, is one of the best living Portuguese fantasists today. Yesterday, I received the promised graphic novel and while I am much too dignified to do anything akin to a squee, I will admit that I laughed a bit at the title, considering that he is very aware of my healthy squirrel fascination. This late 2013 graphic novel, Palmas para o Esquilo (Palms for the Squirrel), however, is no joking matter, as it is one of the more profound graphic novels that I have read in recent years. The story begins with the end and it proceeds to a beginning, a beginning of a little boy who identifies himself as a squirrel, despite the social condemnations of this. In some senses, it could be the tale of someone who has "gone mad," or at least lives in a sort of dissociative state, where the mundane and the weird, the "normal" and the "insane," mesh. Pedro Serpa's illustrations integrate Soares' words on madness and the oftself-delusional state of human existence to create a work that troubles those readers who pause to consider the characters and their reflections on life and reality. In his earlier prose works that I have reviewed here, I

David Soares e Pedro Serpa

The presentation of Palmas Para o Esquilo at Amadora BD 2013

have noted Soares' talent for creating memorable scenes through deft use of dialogue and description. In the graphic novel medium, where words are at a premium and which often depend upon the ability of the illustrator to render the characters' internal monologues and dialogues as near to pitch-perfect as possible, Serpa's drawings of the protagonist's struggle to understand why he considers himself to be as much squirrel as human deepen Soares' dialogue, making for a worried, concerned main character whose experiences, while perhaps far beyond the norm for most of us, allow the reader to be sympathetic toward him and to consider his dilemma at length. Some might consider the premise, a man who sees himself as a squirrel and who yearns to be as wild and free as one, to lack an appropriate amount of gravitas.

Yet the contrary occurs here. There is a plethora of thoughtprovoking moments and comments and while I wish I could quote a few of them here, they are alas too integrated with the accompanying illustrations (not to mention they would reveal the climax too much for those readers who might be curious enough to order a copy of this work). Suffice to say that Palmas para o Esquilo is a work that surprised with with its depth of emotion and its keen insight into human nature. Soares is a very talented writer and his second foray into writing graphic novels demonstrates his wide-ranging abilities. Very high recommended for those who can read Portuguese and who have a willingness to read graphic novels for more than just vapid action/ adventure scenes.

Review by Larry Nolen


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 23

Synthetic Saints by Jason E. Rolfe This book represents the textbook definition of what science fiction aspires to achieve. Not only does this narrative provoke original, deep thoughts about the nature of life, death, and artificial intelligence, it is a riveting story in its own right. This science fiction murder mystery has it all!

found refreshing. I've read too many stories where a significant death in a protagonist life is successfully dealt with in a matter of paragraphs, and it was outstanding to see the author give the grieving process its proper due, versus the standard Hollywood treatment.

The characters are fascinating enough to make the reader want to see what happens next, and there is a lack of predictability that I

Also, it's been a long time since I've wanted my own robot/

Publisher: Vagabondage Press

Cover image by PhotoEuphoria / Jaime Duplass. Cover designed by Maggie Ward.

android/AI, and it was nice to get acquainted with that childhood desire again (as well as consider the implications!) Jason Rolfe's first offering to the readers sets very high expectations, and is one author I'm putting on my must-watch list. I can't wait for his next story!

Review by Joe Iconic

Editor's Choice

“I am your proof,” Hephaestus cried. “I am your prophet. I am a saint to countless billions, souls lost and forgotten in the great ether you call the Field. But, I am a messiah for the living. I am the word made flesh, the promise of eternal life.”


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Deconstructing Religion Through Magical Realism by Robert Peake Both Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues and Ana Castillo's So Far From God attempt to reconcile spiritual and religious perspectives through the genre of magical realism. The need for such reconciliation stems from the same impetus as the desire to reenvision and reshape American cultural identity. Likewise, this religious reshaping borrows upon some of the same techniques of deconstructing standardized perspectives and employing language and techniques outside those found in canonical Western literature. It is particularly in the use of language that we see unique, hybridized attitudes towards spirituality emerging in these books. Each of the novels deconstruct religious attitudes through language. One way that they do this is through challenging religious attitudes toward death. Traditional Christian views of the timeline of one's life set forth a principle described in the book, Imagined Communities (Anderson, 1989) as "messianic time". Such time is characterized by awaiting salvation. Life and death are endpoints to the linear progression of life. Death is the terminating moment at which salvation occurs for the faithful. More importantly, death is the point at which all previous events culminate into a clear understanding of the meaning of an individual's expired life. The line segment is only explicable after it has been experienced end to end. In contrast, both novels admit attitudes toward death that imply a lack of termination. In Castillo's book, nearly all of the characters die. Yet their deaths do not disappoint or really even sadden us as they could have. This is partly due to the flippant language and bizarre occurrences preceding the later killing off of each sister. Castillo builds an environment in which the we can not help but question the plausibility of any event. Therein lies the "magic" of magical realism. Because nothing can be trusted to appease our critical desire for realism, everything must be admitted as an inseparable hybrid of fantasy and reality.

In the case of Caridad's death, Castillo precedes the chapter by describing it as, "...the end of Caridad and her beloved Emerald, which we nevertheless will refrain from calling tragic." (p. 190) She explicitly tells us that the situation is not tragic, which is in direct contrast to our rational instincts. Usually, the death of a major protagonist is sincerely sad. Yet we certainly remember that the death of La Loca at the very beginning of the novel was not genuine. A previous event as dazzling as the resurrection and supernatural flight of an infant is hard to forget as proof that death is temporary in Castillo's world. La Loca's flying and prophesying are immediately brought into question, however, by the existence of dichos, or rumors, in the community. In fact, many rumors about resurrected dead have survived for generations and been promoted into well-known folklore. La Llorona is one example of a woman who, in some tragic sense, lives on after death. Here, the permanence of death and validity of events in the novel are further confused. Is life after death possible? Did La Loca actually resurrect and fly? Do any of the other sisters really die? How can we gauge any of the events of this novel as valid? All of these questions are deliberately left unanswered by the book. It is the lack of answers that further creates a schism between the ideas set forth in So Far From God and traditional religious values.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 25 Most religions attempt to provide answers to questions about the nature of life and what is valid or right. Often, this answer is a manifestation of living in messianic time: have faith and you will find out when you die. This seems unacceptable to Castillo. Likewise, the actions of a traditional portrayal of God seem unacceptable to Sofia, the mother in So Far From God. She expresses her disapproval in confession: "God gave me four daughters," Sofi told Father Jerome her confessor, who was still saying Mass at the church at Tome, "and you would have thought that by now I would be a content grandmother, sitting back and letting my daughters care for me, bringing me nothing but their babies on Sundays to rock on my lap! But no, not my hijitas! I had to produce the kind of species that flies!" (p.84) She goes on to explain to a bewildered Father Jerome that, besides La Loca, one daughter flies to the mountains and another jets to faraway countries. The only one that stays earthbound, she explains, is Fe. Father Jerome's insensitive response is that she should, "be thankful for that much". (p. 85) This transaction demonstrates Castillo's perception that a canonical religion such as Catholicism, represented by Father Jerome, is incapable of dealing with the fantastic and bizarre realities her people experience. Fe, in Spanish, means faith. Father Jerome tells her to be thankful for faith, taking both the idea and persona of faith to be inherently valuable and irreproachable. Indeed, Fe is the least absurd of the characters, but she is also the least entertaining. Ultimately, in the most poignant and political statement of the novel, Fe dies of cancer contracted through the illegal practices of the company she worked for. In the end Fe claims that she, "...had only wanted to make some points with the company and earn bonuses to buy her house, make car payments, have a baby, in other

words, have a life like people do on T.V." (p. 189) The circumstances of her death are both tragic and unjust, leading us to question her undying loyalty to the company that ultimately precipitated her demise. We are led to question her persistent and continuous faith in the institution of a large capitalist company just as we are led to question the inherent value of faith in a religious institution like Catholicism. Alexie takes a similar approach to questioning Catholicism and, more generally, traditional religious views. While Castillo reproaches God through Sofia, Alexie seems to trivializes the nature and importance of God through his main character, Thomas, in Thomas' interview with the radio station KROK: [Interviewer:] Do you believe in God? [Thomas:] Yeah, I do. Do you believe in the devil? I don't know. I'm beginning to. Seems there's more proof of the devil than proof of God, enit? Is God a man or a woman? God could be an armadillo. I have no idea. Here Thomas not only reproaches God as having less influence than the devil over this world, but refuses to answer what gender God is. Catholic depictions, descriptions, and portrayals of God have asserted that God is a man. Priests are the agents of this god, and both novels involve priests with very similar personalities. Neither Father Arnold nor Father Jerome are characters that are in touch with the people to whom they minister. Priests in both books also struggle with their faith. In So Far From God, Francisco El Penitente is struggling greatly between his faith and the love of Caridad. Likewise in Reservation Blues Father Arnold struggles between his duties as priest and his love for Checkers. Ultimately, both characters are unable to resolve such conflict. Father Arnold tries to leave but can't and Francisco kills himself. All of the male priests in both novels are, in these ways, wholly unsatisfying and pitiful to us. Symbolically, they represent an unsatisfying religion that cannot fulfill the complex needs of its people. Each novel begins to offer us replacements for the aspects of religion they have deconstructed. In the case of male priests, both novels offer powerful spiritual women. Castillo gives us the daughters, with clairvoyant,


26

| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 abilities, prophecy, resurrection, and flight; as well as do単a Felicia, Caridad's mentor. Alexie offers us Big Mom, a great musician and spiritual guide who supposedly taught her horses to sing. Big Mom is certainly a more satisfying spiritual embodiment. Checkers describes Big Mom in insightful terms:

about what is valid in magical realism. Just as Castillo refuses to answer whether fantastic events are "real", Alexie also will not attempt to answer questions about the nature of God. Rather, he puts confusion and doubt into the mind of the most religious of his character, Checkers.

I was so scared when I first saw Big Mom ... But then she called me a special woman. It made me realize Big Mom is really a woman and we could have a talk ... Anyway, we took a sweat together and it was great ... But I was kind of scared that Big Mom would know that I was in love with Father Arnold ... I was scared of what she would think of me. How can an Indian woman love any white man like that, and him being a priest besides? (pp. 204-205)

Alexie further confuses the question of what is legitimate or believable by employing unfinished deaths similar to Castillo's. The likable character Junior commits suicide and later returns as a ghost to speak to his old friend, Victor. When Victor questions Junior about his reason for committing suicide, he responds, "Because when I closed my eyes like Thomas, I didn't see a damn thing. Nothing. Zilch. No stories, no songs. Nothing." (p. 290) Junior points out that songs and stories are escapes from reservation life that make such a life bearable. This is later exemplified as a sort of cultural value that stands in direct opposition to the beliefs of the church:

While this passage begins with a description of Big Mom that is reassuring, Checkers quickly begins to worry that Big Mom knows about and condemns her love for Father Arnold. What follows is a stream of thought that represents a complex and powerful attempt at reconciling a canonical religion with a more traditional cultural view. Having brought religion and Father Arnold's ability to relate to the people into question earlier in the novel, we now understand why Big Mom might reproach Checkers for loving a white priest. She continues: Big Mom felt like she came from a whole different part of God than Father Arnold did. Is that possible? Can God be broken into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle? What if it's like one of those puzzles that Indian kids buy at secondhand stores? You put it together and find out one or two pieces are missing. (p. 205) Attempts at reconciling her love for Big Mom and Father Arnold are too much for Checkers. She immediately divides God into pieces. The fear here is that her faith and love will be in vain. If indeed she is able to reconcile the various aspects of God presented to her by two different cultures, what if those results are imperfect? Her confusion continues: I looked at Big Mom and thought that God must be made up mostly of Indian and woman pieces. Then I looked at Father Arnold and thought that God must be made up of white and man pieces. I don't know what's true. (p. 205) Her final statement, that she does not know what is true, is in alignment with not answering questions

These are the devil's tools! the white catholic priest bellowed as his Indian flock threw books and records into the fire ... Thomas mourned the loss of those books and records. He still mourned. He had read every book in the reservation library by the time he was in fifth grade ... Thomas! the priest bellowed again. Come forward and help us rid this reservation of the devil's work! (p. 146) Books and records, which are the tools of songs and stories, are a "piece of God" that Thomas found great joy in. The white priest burning books in Nazilike fashion only serves to further alienate us from him and exemplify his insensitivity to people like Thomas. Finally, Thomas can not bear to accept the renunciation of his songs and stories, and so responds this way: Thomas stepped forward, grabbed the first book off the top pile, and ran away. He ran until he could barely breathe; he ran until he found a pace to hide. In the back of a BIA pickup, he read his stolen book: How to Fool and Amaze your Friends: 101 Great Tricks of the Master Magicians. (p. 146-147) The title of the book the white priest wanted Thomas to burn is of particular significance. It is a book of magic. While Thomas finds magic in the act of listening to and making music, as well as in


by Gisela Monteiro

St. Michele,Venice (2014)

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 27

telling and reading stories, the Catholic church as represented by the various priests is totally insensitive and denunciatory of this aspect of him. Having thoroughly deconstructed religion, Alexie offers something in its place. Stories and songs, particularly the act of performing rock and roll music, become a sort of religion of their own. He describes the lights, the thrill of the stage, and the grass roots performances in a romantic fashion. More significantly, Alexie gives us song lyrics from the various songs that Thomas wrote. Each song offers incredible insight into the emotional depth of Thomas' experience living on the reservation. In this way, Alexie has replaced a traditional religion with one founded on songs and stories. These songs and stories are not, however, traditional to the Native American culture. They are rock and roll songs. In this manner, Alexie hybridizes and blends some of the various "aspects of God" he has been considering into a modern "religion" that is inclusive and meaningful for Thomas, Checkers, and Chess. Castillo, in contrast, never departs from the Catholic church when offering a replacement for the deconstruction of that religion. So Far From God ends with Sofia founding M.O.M.A.S., Mothers of Martyrs And Saints. Both martyrs and saints are people that must explicitly be given such a title by the Catholic church. Yet Sofia is recognized in the community as the mother of at least one saint, La Loca. The strange and none the less humorous ending of So Far From God provides insight into how she proposes to re-envision a religion inclusive of her culture. By admitting a humorous regard for Catholicism and likewise allowing for great fantasy

and duchas , as well as resurrection, supernatural events, and an inconclusive attitude towards death, she provides her characters with a much more satisfying religion than canonical Catholicism. Both authors employ an intricate deconstruction of Catholicism that paves the way for the creation of their own spiritual beliefs. Both authors employ elements of magical realism such as fantasy and the admission of multiple "valid" realities in the process of deconstruction. Yet they arrive at different results. Castillo evolves a humorous and culturally rich Catholicism, Alexie creates a rock and roll band. The differences between these two "religions" is testament to the flexibility of magical realism as a means of shaping identity. In this case, it was employed to shape a religious identity. But because religion is so often tied to culture, it is not difficult to extrapolate this example into the great question of American cultural identity. By admitting the fantastic and never fully answering questions for us about what is valid, both novels imply something insightful about cultural identity: it is never finished. While each book arrives at a separate set of spiritual beliefs, the flexibility and openness of these beliefs allows for constant change. More importantly, the techniques of magical realism allow for a personalization and internalization of the various "pieces of God" or spiritual ideas set forth in text. Rather than asserting, each novel is successfully inclusive of the many facets of their cultural identities while not being evasive. The techniques set forth in each novel are just as important to the project of American multiculturalism as they are personally insightful.


The Artist

by Chris Harrendence

Portable Spill

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 29

Rhys Hughes

Here’s something that’s very topical at the moment. Spillage. Oh look, I’ve created a portable spill! So instead of waiting for irresponsible idiots such as the senior management of BP to create major spills that spread from only one point of origin and are at the whim of unpredictable sea currents, my invention means that spills can be easily carried to any desired location, put in position and adjusted when necessary; they can even be taken back home after they have fulfilled their purpose! Isn’t that just dandy? My portable spill (patent pending) has another advantage over the standard slicks. What is that advantage, you cry? I’ll answer you in due course, probably in the next sentence. On second thoughts not in that one. Nor in this one: maybe in the next. Unlike all other spills, mine can flow uphill. Yes, it’s true. Look closely. Here’s the evidence. It’s flowing up the side of the hardback edition of an important

and fairly recent Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day. Amazing but true! The novel is also amazing. But not true. Do you like Pynchon? My own view is that, with the solitary exception of John Barth, he’s the greatest American writer ever. As if all this wasn’t enough, my portable spill also doubles up as a teardrop. The biggest teardrop in the world! Don’t believe me? Here’s proof! If you ever feel overwhelmingly sad in future, perhaps as a result of listening to heartwrenching music, Brian Eno’s Apollo album for instance, you now have a simple and safe way of expressing your melancholy. This teardrop will not dampen clothes: it’s a uniquely dry lachrymal. And it doesn’t express just sadness; it can be used on any occasion when weeping is appropriate, at a joyous event or during times of immense frustration. The portable spill. You know it makes sense.

About Him

He's a writer of what he sometimes call 'ironic fantasy' or 'philosophical satire' but more often he just

call it 'absurdism'. It doesn't always come when it's called, though!


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Domestica by Tantra Bensko

I put a bowl of sugar water on the window ledge, for the kids. It worked! They have stopped coming into the apartment altogether. They just sip politely, touch heads, turn back around, disappearing. I call the ants “the kids” without shame. I believe they appreciate my tone of voice when I call them that. I continue sweeping. You can see that dust never stops falling, if you shine the light right onto the air. Tiny curls and coils. Even if I scrub my skin daily, I still make dust. Even if I shake my hair out outside, and run back in, I still shed. It’s not my teeth. I brush them hard twice a day. My nails I keep bitten. I keep the windows closed. The only way dust could get in would be the holes the ants find for me, secret holes that divert attention. I open the window and look out, to clear my head, and to shake out the dust rag. Oh! The wall underneath where I've been keeping the sugar water to keep them out is completely covered in ants. The ground is black with them. The ants are many layers thick on the wall, and growing. They seem to be rounding up, vibrating, their mass bulbousness. They form a giant, black prehensile shape arching into the sky and reach through the window like a giant crane claw. They scoop me up. I drop my dust rag. The cloth disappears quickly into legs and abdomens. I

The Industrious Ants

by Paulo Brito

think it is my thoughts that are making dust, flaking off, in pirouettes of white. I try thinking nothing, nothing, just stasis. Nothing to generate more dust. I settle back into the crane claw, and observe the clouds. I try to become a cloud, without potential of rain. Cirrus only. Rain is dust of the sky. The ant-crane moves because of ants crawling over the backs of others, like cheerleaders. I wish people lived in the abandoned houses across the street, so I could wave to them from the sky in the ant crane and they would open their mouths and I could see their glottises. From the new vantage point, I see the caved-in roof of the house across the street has a swamp in the middle. Mosquitos dance in it and worms snuggle. The ant-crane sets me down in the roof-swamp. I am beginning to suspect it’s a form of bug church. The ants form a circle around me. I think they expect me to speak wisdom to guide their spirits. I am the deliverer of sugar water to the chosen ants. The roof can’t hold their weight much longer. I must say something pertinent. It’s my big chance. This is the only audience I’ve ever had in my life. I slap pain on my arm. Blood. Mosquito. Uh oh. The ants touch heads, and begin slapping each other, too, in unison. Slap slap slap. Their crane shape disintegrates into a melee. The world falls apart and nothing will be the same.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 31

A Poem To Tickle by Paulo Brito

Today the time to tarry highlighted, hypnotized... Eager eyes expecting elegant, eloquent edition. Laughing long life ladies, lads... unstoppable, uncommon... notable, noisy, nonsensical are addressed as astoundingly advices, as assets, anytime, anywhere... always. Applauses, Rhys rainbow raider. Tell tastefully tales they teased, impassively, ignited, initiated it is implausible crazy count; courageous, curious character could catch cursed kaleidoscopic keys labelled "Lunar Ladder"... Eh! Effortless eclipse erupted. End!

Chris Harrendence Come with me, help me climb the hill to see the reunification of the stars. It’s so beautiful. I promise you. See that spot? The magic has just begun.

by Paulo Brito

When the ships came by Chris Harrendence


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

IC the Static Iron Fan by Andrew Coulthard

Vera Burrows wasn’t enjoying the story. Something about the narrative both irked and disturbed her in equal measure, but she decided to try a little longer. In elder days storm clouds swarmed across Tellus’s scabrous form and pale, underfunded heretics preached reason to the untouchable Iron Captains. One woman dedicated what remained of her life to turning the tide. Perhaps she had not heard of King Canute? Some claim, however, that she was truly brave and so the prospect of getting her feet wet did not alarm her much. She knew little about how the world really functioned, but enough to understand that she had her work cut out. In truth, if there be such, she was even less knowledgeable than she supposed. The woman began spreading words of sedition against the Iron Captains in their foolish, land-bound ships. Her words made little impression on the deaf hordes of the Iron Captains’ followers, though other heretics did take up her cry, nodding sagely to one another wherever they hid in their burrows... No, it was no good. Vera switched off her Knut-Tideman gas-powered reader and put it aside; time to get out of the bath. Anyway she was tired, it wasn’t a Friday and, worse still, the anchovies were starting to bite. What was it her Gran used to say: “When they laugh at you is when you drown.” A sobering thought! She squinted into the purple waters at an unusually large specimen that was nibbling a scaly patch near her left knee. There used to be newts living in the bath’s sluice channels too, beautiful slender creatures with silver-bellies and green-backs all mottled with dark ovals. Sadly, they’d been absent for years. A heavy clunking caused Vera a brief flutter of dread. Where had that come from? She glanced up at the tiled windowsill, as she always did at such moments. That was where the hulking form of Gran’s static iron fan was perched. She’d never liked the thing with its grimy cast-iron sub-frame and that old-

fashioned industrial aesthetic of bolts and rivets. Worst of all was the horizontal grill behind which the actual fan was housed. Something about it had always reminded her of a sinister visor. The fan had once been automatically operated by the house’s Central Control Unit, but like the CCU, and indeed Vera’s Gran, it hadn’t actually worked for years now. She would often hear it shudder into action in her dreams though, as if some dim memory from her early years kept trying to get back at her. Vera dragged her tall frame into an upright position and stretched. Catching sight of herself in the polished silver mirror she frowned and shook her head. Patches of scales she could live with, nobody ever saw them after all, but just look at her belly! It had grown into a proper little pot and no mistake. When had that begun? She could imagine what her Gran would have said. That’s my girl!


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 33 Her Gran’s voice ricocheted through her head with such resonance and clarity that it almost seemed to come from outside her. Vera frowned, her eyes darting again to the hulking fan. An exclamation like that was very odd because Vera’s Gran had been a fanatic when it came to staying in shape, so she wouldn’t have approved of her potbelly at all. She stared again at the fan and for an instant thought she glimpsed something glistening behind the grill. Then the ancient device trembled into life: clunk, clunk, shugga, shug, shug, shuck, shuckshuckshckshckshck... The fan-blades whirred ever faster and the housing passed through wracking shudders to a scarcely perceptible vibration. Before long a glow began inside the machine in the light of which the glistening object was revealed as an eye, huge and dark, like that of a giant shark. A shiver passed through Vera. Somehow she had always known this moment would come. Through all the lonely and unassuming days of her life it had been there, just out of sight, an indistinct object bobbing just off the shores of consciousness. Water was welling up from the sluice-channels below and boiling over the sides of her bath. It foamed noisily over the cracked tiles, flooding the bathroom.

She tried to climb from the bath, but her feet were stuck fast. “Get back water!” she cried instinctually and then added: “House, turn off the water,” though she knew in her heart that such utterances were pointless. The mauve waters were already level with the sides of the bathtub and they were teeming with anchovies every one of them displaying the toothy smiles for which they were so infamous. “Oh no, Gran, please help me! I don’t want to drown,” Vera cried when she spotted all those tiny glittering teeth. “But my child, the tide must rise and sweep away the old if the sea is to deliver its precious cargo on the ebb.” The voice was unmistakably Gran’s and it was coming from the Static Iron Fan of all places. As the waters reached the top of Vera’s thighs, a spasm of pain passed through her belly. Again she attempted to wrench her feet free, but movement only made the pain worse. Then her belly split open and a shining creature stepped from her skin, human in form but also distinctly newt-like in aspect. She was free to move again, her old skin drifting off on the foaming waters. Before long a hand reached from the depths and took one of hers. “Come with me. The water is nothing to fear,” a voice called from below. Vera glanced at the iron fan, uncertain. “Can you not join me? Leave this empty existence behind and together we will bring down the Iron Captains!” the voice continued. Suddenly Vera was certain. “Yes, this newt can join you,” she cried and took one last look before diving into the deep.

Anyone there... (2011)

by Susana Leite


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

The term 'Magic Realism' is a mysterious one and I am frequently asked to explain what it means. The truth is that it's a vague term and has many precise definitions, which perhaps is the same as saying it has no precise definition at all. Los Meerkats de Mayo 23-24 April, 2004

Magic Realism by Rhys Hughes The term 'Magic Realism' is a mysterious one and I am frequently asked to explain what it means. The truth is that it's a vague term and has many precise definitions, which perhaps is the same as saying it has no precise definition at all. My response is to shrug and simply say, "It's fantasy that isn't fantasy." But that's really quite unhelpful, especially as 'fantasy' itself is a vague term that encompasses an enormous range of styles and subject matter. 'Magic realism' isn't a genre, but it is possible to talk about it as a type of fiction with a distinctive flavour. There are certain basic qualities that can be called 'magic realist' that one doesn't usually find in conventional fantasy. A writer of

fantasy will often try to create a place or a time that may or may not have parallels with the place and time we currently live in, but generally that invented world isn't supposed to be our world. Even if the fantasy story is set in what seems to be everyday life, sooner or later some incident will occur, an intrusion of the supernatural, that ultimately demonstrates that the fantasy world isn't reality as we truly know it. In such stories, all the magic might be said to be external. It comes from outside. In magic realism, on the other hand, the magic is mostly internal. A writer who is a magic realist rarely invents new worlds but uses this world as a stage, and yet he or she doesn't write about how life actually is but how it sometimes feels. So magic realism tends to be an emotionally based style of writing, rather than intellectually, politically or philosophically based. The prose tends to be 'hot', 'sultry' and 'tropical'. It uses exaggeration and overstatement to present the subjective worldviews of the characters and these subjective worldviews will often interact and influence each other. It is safe to say that understatement has little place in magic realism. The most famous magic realist novel is undoubtedly still Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. There is a character in that book who is fatally shot. In a realistic story the wound might


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 35 be described accurately; in magic realism it is described symbolically. We are told that the character’s blood “came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlour, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.”

from the story number n.º 0616

The Notorious Unclemuncher

This doesn’t mean that the blood really travelled so far, but that the emotional shock of the character’s death was so great that it felt as if his blood was seeking out witnesses to the deed. Magic realism makes very heavy use of symbolism. Every significant event is a symbol or extended metaphor, but even though those events are determined by a literal application of feeling, they are also presented in a deadpan style. So if someone is deliriously happy they might start flying, but nobody around them will comment on this miracle, even if they notice it, because the flying takes place on the inside. To redefine your own life in magic realist terms you merely have to turn every emotion you experience into a concrete symbol or action. Jumping for joy can now result in leaping over the moon or stars, but don't forget the cosmic ramifications that will follow; being sad might result in floods of tears powerful enough to destroy cities; anger may topple mountains and cause earthquakes. None of this is objectively real but subjectively it is exactly what happens to all of us during the process of living. I now expect to be told that my understanding of magic realism is

wrong, for it is a style of fiction that has many advocates with opposing views as to its real meaning and significance. The best magical realists were either unaware they were writing magic realism, or else they disowned the label when it was applied to their own work, yet it's generally accepted that the original magic realist was Alejo Carpentier. Other Latin American writers evolved the form. Frustrated with the cool rationality and understatement of most Western fiction, they injected colour, vibrancy, mythology and a passion for coincidence, implausibility and hyperbole into their prose. The heyday of Latin American magic realism was in the 1960s and 1970s. With a few exceptions the style didn’t really catch on in the English-speaking world until the 1980s, and then, for some reason, magic realist novels suddenly flooded the bookstores of Britain and the USA. Back then it was possible for the most difficult magic realists to be translated into English and published by major houses. I remember working my bemused but enthralled way through Mario Satz’s Sol, a book that probably wouldn’t be published now except by a small independent publisher. But an enthusiasm for this kind of literature soon spread to other continents and some of the most accomplished magic realism now comes from Africa, the Middle East, India, and even further afield. Here is a short list of my own personal favourite books in this genre that isn't a genre... • Alvaro Mutis, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll • Mia Couto, Under the Frangipani • Isabel Allende, Eva Luna • Githa Hariharan, When Dreams Travel • Mario Vargas Llosa, The War of the End of the World • Felipe Alfau, Chromos • Amin Maalouf, Leo the African • Cabrera Infante, Three Trapped Tigers • Jorge Amado, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands • Gina B. Nahai, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith • Fazil Iskander, Sandro of Chegem • Manuel Mujica Lainez, The Wandering Unicorn • Witold Gombrowicz, Ferdydurke • Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The General in his Labyrinth

Essay Written - 11.08.2011


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Books and Style

Kseniya Gomzjakova poses with Journeys Beyond Advice, which is a collection of novellas, novelettes and short stories... Kseniya Gomzjakova poses with Journeys Beyond Advice, which is a collection of novellas, novelettes and short stories that were inspired by William Hope Hodgson, H.P. Lovecraft and Jorge Luis Borges in equal measure. This volume is therefore more seriously 'gothic' (or 'weird' in a particular supernaturalstory sense) than most of Rhys Hughes books and features ghosts, angels, occultists, devils and monsters galore and all without humorous intention. For reasons he have never quite understood, sober and straight weirdness is far more acceptable to the palates of most readers of fantastical fiction than the intoxicated and ironic kind. The original hardback was issued by Sarob Press back in 2002 and now fetches high prices. It went out of print not long after publication and has been out of print for nearly 12 years, so he decided to bring it back into existence under the aegis of his own Gloomy Seahorse Press. This paperback version is considerably cheaper than the

limited edition original. It can be obtained directly from Lulu or from Amazon... The book contains the novella 'The World Beyond the Stairwell'

(which John Clute rated as the finest Hodgson tribute tale ever written) and the novelette 'The Swine Taster' (which for a long time Rhys Hughes regarded as he best ever story).

Kseniya Gomzjakova

holding a copy of the book Journeys Beyond Advice by Rhys Hughes


Dragon

by Carlos Rocha

Am I Stuck Indoors? by Fiona Duffin

(dedicated to Ebony, a beloved Sri Lankan Cocker Spaniel)

My nose is wet, my tail doesn't wag Being locked in the house is such a drag Why am I stuck indoors when I should be out? The doorbell rings, making a noise I dread Letterbox rattles as a newspaper lands on my head Why am I stuck indoors when I should be out? The day is long, how I long for a walk Hungry, on the floor I find leftover ham on a fork Why am I stuck indoors when I should be out? Woken by the turn of a key in the door My master enters and glares at me on the floor “Why have you eaten my paper? I'm putting you out!�


Networking Rhymes

by L.t. O'Rourke

Networking Rhymes by L.t. O'Rourke

Peter, Peter social media, had a life, but, didn’t live it. He lost his job and sold his house, and then he posted, tweeted too. Hundreds of likes and comments galore. His tweet went viral, a triumphant finale; Peter, Peter we don’t need you. Little pig, little pig, give me your password, No, no, you can’t use my Wi-Fi, I don’t want your virus. Then I’ll hack, and I’ll play, and I’ll steal your identity. My firewall is too strong for you, I’ll set a trap and make IT nerd stew. There was an old woman who live in a shoe, she had so many Facebook friends she didn’t know what to do. She liked, she poked, even a special friend whose keyboard she stroked. Every night she lay awake imagining the wife she would make, She was a vibrant, youthful eighty-eight. Little Miss Muffet stood in the mirror, making duck faces in her egocentric way. Along came astute and frightened her away.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 39 Twinkle, twinkle little psycho, how emotionally unstable you are. When I destroy your hopes tonight, please don’t unfriend me with a knife. Jack be anti-social, Jill be sweet, Jack jump on a domestic flight. Jack jumped far, Jill said no. Jack agoraphobic, disappeared from life. Humpty Dumpty hacked through a firewall, Humpty Dumpty had a great skill, All the detectives and all the lawyers made sure Humpty never touched a keyboard again. Tom, Tom, she’s a scammer son, Sent a message, and a naughty pic; The pic was a virus, mother-board gone, And Tom went crying to the police. Who killed Cocky Gym Guy? I, said the Geek, I am a keyboard warrior, I killed Cocky Gym Guy. Who saw him die? I, said Skype, with my little eye, I saw him die. Three imbeciles. Three imbeciles. See how they spell. See what they type. They will all roll around on the floor laughing. Who told them punctuation was obsolete? Did you ever feel such frustration in your life, with three imbeciles? What are whining Blogs made of? What are whining Blogs made of? Anger and arrogance And big life fails, That's what whining Blogs are made of? What are silly poets made of? What are silly poets made of? Sugar and spice And everything nice, That's what silly poets are made of.


Wardah

by Marie Lecrivain

Sisters by Marie Lecrivain

“It’s not fair.” “What’s not fair?” “You get to marry the prince. I get his brother.” “I’m sorry Red, but he chose me. Help me straighten my tiara, will you?” “It’s on straight. I get it that he loves you, but I don’t understand why.” “There’s nothing wrong with you Snow, but he loves me more.” “He said he loved us equally.” “That was when he was still a bear. He’s not a bear anymore.” “I know. But, the heart inside, the mind, and the soul were the same. We both took care of him, gave him food, brushed his fur, told him stories, and cuddled with him by the fire on cold nights.”

“He can’t marry the both of us. It’s against the law.” “I know that. And I’m not trying to stop your wedding. I’m just wondering ‘why.’ I need closure.” “What do you mean?” “Promise you won’t get mad?” “I promise.” “Well, there was this one night when you and Mother were asleep...” “Go on.” “Well, we were trading fairy-tale stories. My neck hurt. He offered me a tongue massage.” “Go on.” “Well, one thing led to another and... well... he gave me more than a massage.”


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 41 “Are you saying he gave you oral pleasure?” “Well... yes... he went down on me… several times… Of course, we couldn’t go all the way, but he promised me that he would marry me if he ever got free of his enchantment.” “He did?” “Yes, he did. I loved him desperately, I still do, but of course, that’s not the point.” “What is the point?” “Why would he take back his promise? I haven’t had the chance to ask him, since the moment he was turned back into a prince and he proposed to you. I’m sorry, Snow, but this is hurting me.” “For someone who’s trying not to ruin my wedding, you’re doing a good job!” “No. I swear. I’m not.” “Red, there’s nothing to be done. Tomorrow, you’ll have just as nice a wedding as I’m going to have today. Get over it.” “Snow, you wouldn’t say that if you were in my place.” “You’re right. I’m not in your place. Today, I’m the bride and later today, I’ll be queen. Tomorrow, you’ll be the bride and a princess.” “This isn’t about power, Snow. I’m serious. I’m not good with leaving things alone.” “I know. That’s what got us in trouble with that damned dwarf.” “I was just trying to help.” “I know. You always want to ‘help.’ Seriously, it’s so lame. You and your need to be liked and accepted. I don’t understand it. I tried to tell you the dwarf was loco, that we should just leave him alone to untangle his beard from the log, but NO, you had to go right up to him and chop off six inches of his facial hair. And what did he do? He followed us all the way home, cursed at us, and threatened to rape us. Yeah, that was wonderful. Our whole afternoon was spoiled by your charity.” “What was I supposed to do? Mother taught us to be kind and charitable to those in need.” “Mother also told us to stay away from strangers and to leave well enough alone. You should’ve internalized the latter.” “I did. I mean, I do.” “No, you didn’t and you don’t. Remember what happened the next week, when we went down to the river to wash our clothes and we ran into that psycho dwarf again? I wanted to go upstream, but you had to cut away more of his beard and his fishing line. He threatened to file assault charges against you because you cut off more of his beard, AND then

you lost his dinner. He sent us a bill for a new fishing pole. Mother made ME give up my allowance for a month to cover the cost.” “I said I was sorry. Why don’t you believe me?” “Because, you are compelled to stick your nose in places and people’s lives when you need to leave well enough alone. You bring trouble into my life without any thought of consequence. And, don’t think your story about the prince's amazing bear tongue is going to keep me from marrying him.” “Snow, I’m afraid that wasn’t quite the end of the story.” “What do you mean?” “Promise you won’t get mad?” “I’m already past being mad and I’m not going to make any promises. You’d better tell me, or I’ll call in the palace guard.” “Fine. I told you we didn’t go all the way, but we did more than just oral sex.” “What are you saying?” “He’s a bear.” “A bear?” “Yes, a bear. A bear that used to come through our back door every night. He’s a bear who likes come through the back door.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Oh, come on, Snow, you know what it means.” “I don’t.” “He’s a bear who likes to come through the back door. How else am I going to explain it to you?” “I really don’t understand what you’re talking about.” “Give me a break, Snow. You’re the one who read every book in the kingdom, including the dirty ones. Even you have to know what that means.” “I don’t care. Pardon my vernacular, but quite frankly, you’re being an asshole.” “Exactly!” “Whatever. I have a wedding today and unless you want me to tell your future husband that you’re not a virgin, you’ll shut up right now.” “Oh, I’m still a virgin. And my future husband already knows. He’s of the mind that the front and the back door are equally good for coming.” “Whatever. I don’t have time for this. My wedding’s in an hour, and I still have to meet with the royal esthetician to wax my lady parts.” “It won’t do you any good, Snow. Ask the royal esthetician to bleach your bum hole. You’ll thank me later.”


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

To My Father by Fiona Duffin Dedicated to her beloved father Edward Douglas Duffin

A year has passed but time never dies When I stare into space I see your eyes Watching over me, father, in the night's starry skies Your love protects me and makes me wise The tales you told of the life you led inspired me and with wonder filled my head Cycling through the curfew of Suez nights History retold, through your memories and sights Climbing peaks and volcanoes in the Far East Going on Safari and watching wildebeest Playing rugby in Uganda with Idi Amin Giving me insights into things I'd never seen A husband and father, a family man throughout the days Stargazer at night, simply a gentleman in so many ways Your strength protected me from life's hidden surprise Together we shared the lows and the highs The knowledge you shared will always be in my mind Seeing the world with you was a privilege, one of a kind A father's love for his little rosebud helps me to leave sadness behind Take my hand, let a new journey begin, who knows what we'll find

10th July, 1951

Fiona's father on his graduation day


Magical Realism in a Nutshell by Dr. Lois Parkinson Zamora An old man with enormous wings appears in a Colombian village; a girl of unearthly beauty ascends to heaven while hanging out her sister-in-law's sheets; it rains for four years, seven months and eleven days until boredom turns to apocalypse and a biblical hurricane sweeps the town away. In fiction described by the term "magical realism," miracles, myths, and monsters mix with the mundane, and fantastical events are narrated as if they were everyday occurrences. experiences either), the author asks "Things have a life of their own. What is Real? us to question our assumptions It's simply a question of waking These are all events from Gabriel about our world, and to examine up their souls." García Márquez's fiction—which our certainties about ourselves is considered to be the defining and our community. Because the Bridging the Cultural Divide example of magical realism, magical events in Macondo are despite the author's refusal of the presented matter-of-factly, our García Márquez also suggests that label. He protests that he is not own sense of what is possible is cultures and countries differ in a magical realist but a realist, amplified and enriched. Ordinary what they call "real." and that there isn't a single thing objects and events are enchanted. It is here that magical realism in his fiction that hasn't really As the gypsy Melquíades says in serves its most important function, happened to him or someone he the first paragraph of the novel, because it facilitates the inclusion of knows. The Colombian author's point is well taken: the question of what is real is at the heart of magical realism. García Márquez implies that our notions of reality are too limited—that reality includes magic, miracles and monsters, and that we don't need to go around inventing special terms to describe it. By making things happen in his fictional world of Macondo that do not happen in most novels (or in most readers'


by Diogo Carvalho

Halloween (2011)

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 45

alternative belief systems. It is no coincidence that magical realism is flourishing in cultures such as Mexico and Colombia, where European and indigenous cultures have mixed, with the result that ancient myths are often just beneath the surface of modernity. It's not just in Latin America where Western and non-Western cultures have converged. Toni Morrison, a Nobel laureate alongside García Márquez, writes novels that depend upon African cultural sources to describe American settings. American writers Leslie Silko and Louise Erdrich incorporate Pueblo and Ojibway cultural traditions. As these examples suggest, women's fiction may be especially attuned to the "magic" in real places and people. The Chilean writer Isabel Allende proposes the wonderful world of clairvoyant women in her magical realist novel The House of the Spirits, and the Mexican writer Laura Esquivel makes the kitchen

Guga Tarzan

by Carlos Rocha

the site of magic in Like Water for Chocolate. To enter into the fictional worlds of these women writers is to enter into "real" worlds like García Márquez's Macondo, where magic comes naturally, as a simple, everyday occurrence. Turning Proof on its Ear Magical realism engages belief systems that defy rational, empirical (scientific) proof. So, too, do science fiction and fantasy and gothic romance. But the crucial difference is that magical realism sets magical events in realistic contexts, thus requiring us to question what is "real," and how we can tell. Magical realism undermines our certainties, and we eventually accept (often without authorial explanation) the fusion, or co-existence, of contradictory worlds— worlds that would be irreconcilable in other modes of fiction. Magical realist fiction is not "either/or" but "both at once."


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

David Soares, O Evangelho do Enforcado (The Gospel of the Hanged) review by Larry Nolen "The painter is the loneliest man in the world." He points to the works in progress and adds: "His children are still-born, things to be hung up on walls - things to be forgotten. Are you certain this is what you want?" (p. 90) Portuguese writer David Soares' recently-released book, O Evangelho do Enforcado (The Gospel of the Hanged would be its title in English) is perhaps his best work in a career that has spanned a decade now since the release of his first novel, A Conspiração dos Antepassados. It is, as have his other novels been, simultaneously a history of sorts of Portugal's past and a feverish fantasy that evokes images of the supernatural. But it is here in O Evangelho do Enforcado that I believe Soares manages to mix these two narrative elements together to create a seamless whole that grabs the reader's attention from start to finish. The story here spans roughly sixty years, from 1390 to 1450, during the time that the Portuguese royal family, including Prince Henry the Navigator, began to expand Portugal's influence beyond the Iberian peninsula. It is a story that revolves in part around the mysterious os Painéis de São Vicente (the Panels of St. Vincent), which was made during this time and which may contain several mysteries references to the royal family of Aviz. Soares devotes a lot of narrative space toward making each main subplot believable and yet fresh and exciting as well. The first section of the novel is set in the last years of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th. In it, the children of the royal family (Henrique/ Henry, Fernando) and the regent Dom Pedro are introduced, as well as the half-crazed painter Nuno Gonçalves, the presumed painter of os Painéis de São Vicente. In a nice juxtaposition of background and theme, Soares includes a very detailed morality play scene to set up the first extended scene with

Nuno, where he is either conversing with himself or possibly with a nefarious entity which calls itself Geronte: You think that I am a devil... said the creature tonelessly. That superstitious attitude, of provoking the rooster, leaving it open-mouthed. It smelled the bird and shook its huge head from side to side. I am not afraid of the rooster's song. He advanced in the direction of the boy with heavy steps. I am afraid of nothing. "My God of my soul!..." cried Nuno, retreating. God is an idea. Nothing is so ambiguous as an idea. (p. 59) From here, Nuno's subplot goes through twisted paths, paths where he becomes a talented, admired painter, but also one where he is embittered about how his art is perceived, and he is still afflicted with those voices and conversations with the nefarious

Editor's Choice


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 47 Geronte. Intertwined with this is a look at Portuguese court society and how the future rulers of Portugal during its rise to power. Henrique's failed crusade in 1437 against the Moorish city of Tangiers ends up being a disaster, with his younger brother Fernando being sent to the Moorish court as a hostage. The interactions between the royal brothers and the rest of the court is fascinating, in part because of how well Soares reveals the fault lines of such societies, but also for how adroitly he ties it in to the metaphysical elements he mentions in the opening scenes of the novel. The thoughts by one of the supporting characters, Maria, is indicative of some of the thoughts that loom large within O Evangelho do Enforcado: And I, what is it that I have?, thought Maria. They say that I am beautiful, that all the men want to fuck me...But what is that worth in the hour of death? It's not possible to eat beauty. She shook her head. There is no good death. Death hurts. It is cruel. It makes us pass away in shit. Where is this promised resurrection? We will rise up on the other side? A side more luminous than this? Heaven. So that hunger is turned into an insupportable light. Perhaps all of us go to Hell. They say that the whores are going to Hell. If it exists, it is a whorehouse, she thought. But how? Then, is it possible to have hunger in Hell? Is this the punishment for the sin of luxury? Then what is the punishment for gluttony? If I were a philosopher, capable of great thoughts, perhaps I would find an answer for this, but I am no philosopher. I am not capable of great thoughts. I only want to find something to eat. (pp. 235-236) Whether it is a focus on Nuno's increasingly capricious behavior that fuels his artistic genius or if it is a look into the complex relationships between the royal family, there is a sense throughout this novel that the Devil is lurking somewhere in the vicinity. He may not appear directly, but when, in the guise of Geronte, he does show up, the developments that have occurred take on an aspect that can be frightening at times, especially considering how well he develops his characters and setting.

In many ways, O Evangelho do Forcado is a morality play writ large, using the Portuguese court and its most enigmatic genius, Nuno Gon莽alves, as its actors and actresses. The result is a gripping story that has a broad appeal, whether it be to those who enjoyed the late medieval period pieces of say an Ildefonso Falcones or the historical-slash-metaphysical stories of a Carlos Ruiz Zaf贸n. Soares is equally comfortable with both the historical and supernatural aspects of this tale and each element blends into the other, creating an exciting story that likely will be featured at the end of the year in my lists of best 2010 novels. Hopefully, there will be a publisher willing to take a chance and translate this into English, as it is the sort of story that I think can be marketed easily to Americans wanting great, dark historical fantasies.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Into the Spotlight

Tartarus is a small, British independent press founded in 1990. We specialise in collectable hardback limited editions of literary supernatural/strange/horror fiction, and we also publish paperbacks and ebooks.We have been the recipient of four World Fantasy Awards, and in 2010 received a "Stoker" from the Horror Writers Association. "When first encountered, the publications of Tartarus Press seem almost as numinous as the supernatural tales they contain. The simple elegance of their presentation. . . jacketed in uniform cream covers with only minimal decoration, recall an earlier age when books were as rare and treasured as jewels. These are not commodities to be piled high on three-for-two tables, but rarities which remain hidden unless sought out . . . The stories hoarded in their pages are so little known you might be forgiven for wondering if you have dreamed them. The Triumph of Night and Other Tales by Edith Wharton. The Supernatural Tales of H.G. Wells. The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson. And dozens of other titles by authors both famous and obscure which taken as a whole form a secret library, a catalogue of weird fiction from its roots in Victorian Britain through to the modern day."

by Damien G. Walter, The Guardian

Tartarus Fiction Tartarus was founded in Sheffield by Ray Russell and began by publishing the works of Welsh mystic writer Arthur Machen. The earliest publications were chapbooks, the first hardback being Machen’s Ritual in 1992. The press soon branched out into collecting together stories by other classic authors, including F. Marion Crawford, Walter de la Mare, Denton Welch, Sarban,

Oliver Onions, Ambrose Bierce, Thomas Owen, Theophile Gautier and Robert Aickman. The first Tartarus anthology of all-new stories by contemporary authors was Tales from Tartarus (1995), which led to the Strange Tales series, edited by Rosalie Parker (who joined Tartarus full time in 1998). The first Strange Tales volume won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology in 2004. Tartarus is now based in the beautiful countryside of the


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 49

Yorkshire Dales. Almost from the beginning, Tartarus has been actively encouraging and promoting speculative writing over

White Hands), Angela Slatter (Sourdough and Other Stories), John Howard (The Collected Connoisseur), Tim Lees (Frankenstein’s Prescription), Eric Stener Carlson (The St Perpetuous Club of Buenos Aires), Michael Reynier (Five Degrees of Latitude), Jake Wyckoff (Black Horse), Rebecca Lloyd (Mercy and Other Stories), Anne-Sylvie Salzman (Darkscapes), William Charlton (Undesirable Guests), John Gaskin (The Long Retreating Day), Quentin S.Crisp (Morbid Tales). Reggie Oliver is one of the more established writers whose work has been championed by Tartarus. His collection of short stories Flowers of the Sea (Tartarus, 2013) has been short listed for the World Fantasy Award 2014 for best collection. Australian author Nike Sulway’s superb novel of speculative fiction Rupetta (Tartarus, 2013) has this year won both the James Tiptree, Jr Award and the Norma K. Hemming Award.

a wide range of genres by contemporary authors. Submissions are open to all, and all work submitted is read. Many new writers have been discovered and published this way. Rhys Hughes’s very first collection of short stories, Worming the Harpy and Other Bitter Pills was published by Tartarus in 1995, followed by Stories from a Lost Anthology in 2002. Other contemporary writers who have had early or first stories or collections published by Tartarus include Mark Valentine (In Violet Veils), Simon Strantzas (Cold to the Touch), Mark Samuels (The

Tartarus has a policy of not announcing books far in advance of publication, but as an exclusive for this website, we can disclose that in 2015, Tartarus will be publishing a new collection by Rhys Hughes. In September 2014, Tartarus will be bringing out The Loney, a superb, slowburn British horror novel in the tradition of The Wicker Man, by first time novelist Andrew Michael Hurley. One not to miss!


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 51

Mr. Esgar Acelerado The Cover Visual Artist

People with a sweet tooth on the magnificent work of Esgar Acelerado I always have the idea that the characters of Esgar Acelerado bring with them a look of gluttony for things, gluttony for life with their frequently bulging appearance, with a hard and intense expression. They are a very tender collection of figures that are a miscellany of the cartoon universe with that of illustration, from the more pragmatic of the former genre to the most lyrical of the latter. I always have a sense of fun to which

is added ferment sensitivity which many times lead to a tone that is also dramatic, even melancholic and hence romantic. I think that Esgar creates as if making images bloom, because of the profusion of colour that turns everything into a garden, making of what we see radiant bouquets. Creating as if making images bloom is only possible for those who know how to value delicacy, for those who have found a sensitive point from which

it is reasonable to put into practice the dearly desired freedom of having fun, confessing, being awestruck and reaching perfection through pulsating expression. There is a quickening of emotions, a sense of good gluttony, a friendly energy that irradiates from the images as if there were the garden that, after all, waters and fertilizers us, the seduced spectators. ~valter

hugo m達e ~ Theatro Circo

Illustrations for Theatro Circo (2014)

Tragedy


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Books That You Must Read Books that will change your life and Books that will make you smarter

Black Scat Books

- a stunning work of speculative metafiction - filled with wordplay and literary hijinks. This is seminal

Human Maps - a new collection by Andrew Hook.

A literary event you won’t want to miss: the first English translation of the Selected Plays

post-cyberpunk fiction with wicked Oulipian twists, crafted by a master of experimental fiction.

of Alphonse Allais, compiled and translated by Doug Skinner. This special illustrated edition makes a nice companion volume to Allais’s Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks. This new collection includes 24 works: eight monologues, three one-act plays, plus short skits, dialogues, and burlesques. For fans of the absurd, this is a musthave.

Mao Zedong’s clandestine Long March reaches its revolutionary climax in The Little Red Book of Commie Porn. A collaboration between California artists Terri Lloyd and Norman Conquest, this outrageously funny collection of satirical art & text

"Storytelling which is subtly, wickedly funny." - The TimesPicayune A major new novel by Tom Whalen, The Straw That Broke

The Planet Suite - a new edition of Allen Ashley's first 'novel' - a hugely exuberant and vivid opera of the human condition through the glittering lens of speculative fiction, presented here in a new definitive edition with plenty of 'DVD extras'. Sangria in the Sangraal - a reprint of one of Rhys Hughes's finest books with two brand new stories. Testament - A complex new novel by Hal Duncan. Rustblind and Silverbright a Slipstream Anthology of Railway Stories edited by David Rix. Trains occupy a special place in the human psyche. The twin threads of the rails forge ahead from place to place, the ultimate symbol of travel and connection and all the hopes, fantasies, fears,

"An intriguing blend of SF, philosophy, and word play . . . Giddy fun!" - Rudy Rucker "Pollinates post-cyber-punk with headier poetry than the genre has yet known." - Andrei Codrescu

Eibonvale Press

A new anthology (Sensorama) from Allen Ashley on the theme of the senses.

is unlike anything we’ve ever published. Indeed, the book is nearly impossible to describe and must be seen to be believed. For more information, visit BlackScatBooks.com


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 53 reasons, romance and excitement that come with that. The links between points, the bridges and tunnels, are always so much more profound than borders or walls. And yet you travel these links through a world that is isolated from normal life and unique to itself. The railways are so mundane and taken for granted, passing through the backs of your cities and towns, yet they are worlds that cannot be visited, cannot be known. Worlds that can only be glimpsed from blurred windows or from the far end of the platform.

Tartarus Press Flowers of the Sea - Thirteen Stories and Two Novellas This sixth collection of ‘strange stories’ by Reggie Oliver follows the award winning Mrs Midnight (2011). Oliver’s variety of subject matter, wit, characterisation and stylistic elegance are on display, as is his gift for telling a good story. Reggie Oliver is an English playwright, biographer and writer of ghost stories. His work

Mercy and Other Stories by Rebecca Lloyd Rebecca Lloyd’s first published collection of six­ teen strange stories, nine of which are previously unpublished, is made up of tales of unease with a sprinkling of the

ghostly, menacing and fantastical. The stories inhabit the fragile space between fantasy and reality, where the landscape is in constant flux and things are not quite as they seem. In ‘Mercy’ a loving husband finds an un­usual method of prolonging his affec­tion for his wife, while the inhabitant of a half-way house finds a creative use for internet dating in ‘Salsa’. Alan runs away from the circus in ‘The Lover’, and in ‘The Reunion’, eccentric and elderly Isobel and Charles, struggling with the upkeep of their de­ caying mans­ ion, chose an entirely new way to face the future. In ‘Maynard’s Mountain’, the search for a lost lottery ticket involves a traveller family in a (literally) uphill task. Strange Tales, IV edited by Rosalie Parker

has appeared in a number of anthologies, including the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.

This fourth volume of strange tales from Tartarus presents fifteen new stories in the fields of fantasy, horror, decadence and the supernatural.

Christopher Harman’s ‘By Leaf and Thorn’ mines the not-to-be underestimated magick of the English countryside, while John Howard’s uneasy timeslip piece ‘You Promised You Would Walk’ is set in modern Berlin. Rebecca Lloyd’s ‘Gone to the Deep’ explores the Celtic sea-myths of the Scottish isles, while Rhys Hughes’ ‘The Secret Passage’ follows the architectural obsession of a would-be good son. Matt Leyshon has his ne’er-dowell anti-hero escape to a Greek island in ‘The Amber Komboloi’, while Angela Slatter’s ‘The Badger Bride’ follows the adventures of her shape-shifting, grownup fairy-tale characters. H.V. Chao’s ‘The Recovery’ details a writer’s decadent working holiday in the South of France, while in ‘Drowning in Air’, Andrew Hook’s protagonist visits an anxiety filled, post-war Japan. More

stories

of

the

highest

quality—by John Gaskin, Jason A. Wyckoff, Richard Hill, Alan McIntosh, V.H. Leslie, Mark Francis and Andrew Apter— contribute to a fascinating, rewarding, and sometimes bracing trip through the highways and byways of contemporary strange fiction.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Rhys Hughes

answers the Usual Questions Rhys Henry Hughes is a Welsh writer and essayist. According to wikipedia, "His work is often parodies and pastiches with surreal and absurdist overtones". Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work? I rarely go to conventions and this is partly because crowded places make me feel anxious. I'm just not used to them. So I don't interact with my readers at such events as often as I would like. I do, however, interact with my fans in other ways, mostly through the internet, though sometimes I get to meet them for real in unlikely places. I once met one of my readers at the summit of a mountain after I had climbed it and found another climber already at the top. We started talking and discussed a host of subjects before turning to fiction and he reached into his rucksack and pulled out one of my books. The mountain, incidentally, was Giewont in the Tatras. Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out? I have had the pleasure of meeting Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss

and Iain Sinclair over the years, but the but the moment that stands out the most for me was meeting Alasdair Gray in the flesh. This happened not long after he had published his brilliant novel, Poor Things, and my signed copy of that book is one I will always treasure. Alasdair Gray for me is the best living British writer and his big collection of short stories, Every Short Story (1952-2012), is one of the best short story collections published in recent years, and his novella Five Letters From an Eastern Empire, included in this book, is my favourite ever example of short fiction. I was delighted to meet him! He was extremely friendly to me. I love his artwork as well as his writing. Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to? I have already mentioned Alasdair Gray as a favourite writer of mine. But I also love Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, Flann O'Brien and Boris Vian. There are a great many authors I enjoy and admire hugely, of course, but these are the ones who stand out. I guess if I had to

make a list of only three favourite books, it would consist of Vian's

L'Écume des Jours, Lem's The Cyberiad and Calvino's Our Ancestors. This is the kind of fiction I aspire to write. I know I fall far short of this standard but they are the books that serve as my ideals. It's a kind of fiction that is simultaneously playful, fabulous, quirky, inventive, humorous, ironic, philosophical, paradoxical and witty. If I was only allowed


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 55 to choose one I would take the Calvino book, which is philosophical concerns with irony and humour and quirkiness. My desire is that I will be regarded as actually three connected novels in a single volume. an original and inventive writer who isn't quite like Who is the person you would most like to be any other. But it's not up to me to decide how I will be judged or even if I deserve to be judged trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship? at all. Maybe I'll be completely unnoticed or One of my lovely friends. For example, Nina quickly forgotten even if I am noticed. We can't be Vangerow, the most utterly delightful, unusual and too wrapped up in ourselves in this business. My interesting person it is possible for me to imagine. I dream when I was younger was to be a sort of 'Ray am lucky enough to know some incredible people in Bradbury of Wales' and now it's to be a 'Calvino of this world who make life a constant pleasure and a Wales', but I am aware of how absurd it would be surprise. But I have to point out that I almost never to claim that I have even started on the immense go in elevators. I usually take the stairs. I am a little journey to reaching my destination and achieving bit of a claustrophobe and getting stuck in such a small this distinction. I am still a very small guy indeed, space would unsettle me a lot. So in fact it wouldn't be a novice traveller, a perennial beginner. fair to choose one of my friends to share such a fate! As for how I would react to being stuck in a spaceship, What is the special satisfaction of your work? it depends on how big the spaceship was. I guess that planet Earth is a sort of spaceship but a huge one and I like to think that my work is both amusing and thought provoking, but it could be the case that even I am perfectly happy to be on it. if I am right about this, amusing isn't such a great Who is the person you would most Dislike to quality and provoking thoughts is a bad thing. I enjoy writing the fiction I write because it is also be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship? the kind of fiction I most enjoy reading, but I am Any pompous individual who would talk at me for aware that my style isn't for everyone. I just try to hours about how they were right on every subject and do the best I can and tell stories that are difficult everyone else was wrong. Such people exist. I would also or even impossible for a reader to anticipate. How hate to be stuck with a tuneless whistler, or someone successful I am at this isn't really for me to say. who keeps meat in his pockets as a snack, or someone My readers are the only ones who know the answer. with a tongue as long as a necktie, or a xenophobe or any other generally intolerant person. submitted by Rhys Hughes at www. What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

festivale.info // 4 August 2014

Coffee. It's my only vice. Or rather, the only vice of mine that I can't live without. I have been on long hiking expeditions where I forgot to pack the coffee and after a couple of days I was shaking like I had a fever. I can live without most things, even including music and chocolate, but not without my regular caffeine hit. The best coffee I have ever tasted in my life was in cafes in Portugal, but also coffee made over a camp fire at night or in the very early morning, especially on a moonlit beach, tastes extra delicious. What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work? I hope that I can make a small contribution to the Literature of the Fantastic by blending serious

Chiado cafĂŠ in Lisbon (24.10.2007)

Rhys Hughes taste the oddest galĂŁo ever


“The soul, fortunately, has

unconscious, but still a truthf

~ Charlotte


s an interpreter -- often an

ful interpreter -- in the eye

e BrontĂŤ ~

�


| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

by Gisela Monteiro

Tree of Wishes (2010)

58


Pedro Carvalho 1

2 4

3

1. 2. 3. 4.

Death Mad-Scientist Myth True Grit


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Carla Rodrigues 1. Steampunk Santa 2. H. P. Lovecraft

1

2


Three and Four

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 61

Primordial: An Abstraction

Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands

A nameless professor’s methods of teaching and scholarship become toxic; he is sent back to college to redo his Ph.D. and redeem his authority. This is only the beginning of terror. Confronted by absurdity, redundancy, and pornogrpahy at every turn, the professor must struggle to follow the rules and be a good student even as he terrorizes the roommates, faculty, staff and administrators that threaten to undermine his rancorous will to power. Primordial, published by Anti-Oedipus Press, is an exercise in contemporary idiocy that rakes academia over the coals while plumbing the uncanny obscurities of existence and identity.

“Most people probably think that marriage is surreal enough, but Nathaniel Tower takes the absurdity a step further in this imaginative c o l l e c t i o n (Published by Martian Lit). In examining characters who give birth to boots, find gorillas in their spare bedrooms, and cheat the Potato King out of a stolen ring, Tower delights the reader at the same time that he provides strangely tender and apt insight into how we live our lives together.” – David S. Atkinson, author of Bones Buried in the Dirt

by D. Harlan Wilson

About D. Harlan Wilson He's an award-winning, critically acclaimed novelist, short story writer, editor, literary theorist. In addition to over ten works of fiction and nonfiction, hundreds of his stories and essays have appeared in magazines, journals, and anthologies throughout the world in multiple languages.

by Nathaniel Tower

About The Author Nathaniel Tower lives in the Twin Cities area with his wife and daughter. After teaching high school English for nine years, he decided to start a new career in writing / publishing / editing.His fiction has appeared in over two hundred online and print journals. In 2011, MuseItUp Publishing released his first novel, A Reason to Kill, followed a year later by his first novella, Hallways and Handguns.


Feather by David Rix The book is available in hardcover and paperback from Eibonvale Press: www.eibonvalepress.co.uk Ebook versions are also available.

Editor's Choice

"What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us."- Franz Kafka, letter to Pollak. A magical book, filled with a sweet gloom that is only found in isolated beaches. The words can carried me to a weird, but quiet dream. I feel when turning each page the sea breeze on my face; I love it! ~Paulo Brito ~


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 63 Feather Cover by David Rix

Captains Stupendous! by Rhys Hughes "So you want to know about the Faraway Brothers, do you? Born somewhere in Gascony, they were, in the 1880s, all three of them birthed at the same time from the same womb of the same mother. Grew up in the same household, they did too, eating the same food, reading the same books, counting the legs on the same spider because the family couldn’t afford a real clock; but later they went their separate ways. Scipio took to the sea, to ships, islands and women; Distanto took to the air, to balloons, islands and women; Neary, unluckiest of the triplets, remained on land, taking only to locomotives and stations and chastity. Many adventures they all had and often their paths crossed and sometimes they clashed and the consequences were always totally STUPENDOUS!" It's an adventure featuring three brothers who are captains of different types of transportation, namely ship, zeppelin and train, and how they avoid and interact with each other; and the consequences of living in interesting times (the early decades of the 20th Century!); and the secret political intrigues that take place behind the scenes; and... magic and yetis and living skeletons and lots and lots and lots of other stuff! Paperback: 315 pages ISBN-13: 978-1-84583-886-7 Published 31 July 2014 Publisher: Telos Publishing

Rhys Hughes Signing at Forbidden Planet 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8JR London, United Kingdom

27 September | 13:00


| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Sun Dancing In Winter by Fiona Duffin It's a well known fact that the sun only dances with his hat on. In the summer he can be seen dancing daily with his sun beams in the daylight and serenading his friend Moonlit in the dark. When winter arrives, it's a different story for the sun dancer (as he is known by all who see him). He no longer has his sun hat on and appears to have lost his twinkle as he sits, low in the sky, looking down at the world.

by Adele Whittle

However, not all in that bleak winter sky is as it seems to you and I. For the sun dancer has replaced his sun hat with a woolly hat given to him by Moonlit to keep warm. He wears this hat when he attends a live music club called Sunshine, where he likes to pull the wool over Winter's eyes, as he and Moonlit dance together until sunrise, to the Winter Blues.

Suncatcher

64

The Bitterwood Bible and other recountings by Angela Slatter Welcome back to the magic and pathos of Angela Slatter’s exquisitely imagined tales. The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings returns to the world of Sourdough and Other Stories (Tartarus, 2010), introducing readers to the tales that came before. Stories where coffin-makers work hard to keep the dead beneath; where a plague maiden steals away the children of an ungrateful village; where poison girls are schooled in the art of assassination; where pirates disappear from the seas; where families and the ties that bind them can both ruin and resurrect and where books carry forth fairy tales, forbidden knowledge and dangerous secrets. The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings is enhanced by eighty-six penand-ink illustrations by artist Kathleen Jennings.

Published 1st September 2014

Tartarus is a small, British independent press founded in 1990.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Voyager Postal

by Diogo Carvalho


Five and Six

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 69

Moby-Duck

by Donovan Hohn «Moby-Duck», by Donovan Hohn (Viking, 2011). This is a amazing book, full of heart and brain, that will give you the definitive insight about the famous Friendly Floatees story, concerning 28.800 plastic kiddie bath toys - ducks, beavers, turtles and frogs - lost in high sea after the intermodal container that carried them went overboard in the Pacific. Donovan Hohn goes way beyond the extra mile in portraying all the details, nuances and bizarries, handpicked from a multitude of priceless primary sources: conscientious oceanographers, maverick captains, frantic entrepreneurs and - of course - the Friendly Floatees themselves, via their factory in China. You will be amazed and wiser. Without a single speck of pretentiousness or lame attempts at half-assed humour, «Moby Duck» is the real deal: a dauntless jornalistic investigation, made venturesome by a love of science and its whimsical subject matter.

David Soares Nonfiction Choices

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals by Edward Payson Evans

«The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals», by Edward Payson Evans (The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 1906). The authoritative account of the good old days when four-legged beasts and all classes of vermin went to court to get punishment for their crimes against men and against other beasts, for that matter. Justice was ltterally for all: human, nonhuman and even non-living, because objects might get prosecuted as well. It sounds insane, but the comparability between this cases and the way society sometimes still treat children, elders and mentally challenged individuals in the fields of medicine and law is chilling indeed. Dehumanizing the other is usually the first step into very dark places: in this book, the animals on trial were never human to begin with, which made procedures all the more untroublesome if not painless, but to read this with the works of Foucault in mind, for example, offers a new dimension to it. I vividly recomend it.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Tallest Stories by Rhys Hughes 366 pages Published February 2013 by Eibonvale Press Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1908125163 Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1908125156

Tallest Stories

cover by David Rix

Tallest Stories by Rhys Hughes, and excellently illustrated by David Rix is a good stuff to read. Briefly is a hallucinating reading and nothing boring. "60 linked stories, 60 illustrations, 18 years in the making – this is probably Rhys Hughes’ most important book to date." Unfortunately isn’t referred the amount of drink and food spend in the production of the book. Can I forgive the author? I think not. But as “Laura was running. She ran. She ran throught the forest. Throught the forest she ran. Laura ran.” I forgive him – not a bad guy after all, despite only desired to be friend of mermaids. A fetishistic

for scales! The 60 story that makes the book go from 1993 (Learning to Fly) to 2009 (Gaspar Jangle’s Seance). One of the stories, Learning To Fall, included in the book, in the words of Rhys Hughes “was originally one of my very first stories. I wrote a version of this story when I was 10 years old, then lost it, so when I was 28 I decided to rewrite it...” Not the best book by Rhys Hughes because it’s impossible to compare any book of Rhys Hughes to another book of Rhys Hughes. Therefore I can only conclude that it’s the best book of Rhys Hughes; confused? Does this solve? “Laura was running. She ran. She ran throught the forest. Throught the forest she ran. Laura ran.” If it does not solve I feel sorry - of course I don’t, but it is politically correct to have some pity, read the book will be the only solution. In 60 stories there are some 60 stories that I’m obligated to emphasize. For easy browsing the list the book has an index. I think that’s all I have to say about the book. Liked. Loved. Loved. “Laura ran.”

Review by Paulo Brito

Editor's Choice


Prozac

by Win Leerasanthanah

Prozac by Jason E. Rolfe I passed a bottle of Prozac on the way to work this morning. The Prozac said, “You look a little down, Jason. Is there anything I can do to help?” I thought about it for a minute. I had worked in a corporate environment long enough to know that when you ask for something you get nothing, but when you ask for everything you at least get something. With that in mind I replied, “You could give me one billion dollars.” The Prozac looked at me. A mixture of pity and scepticism crossed his bottle-top face. “Do your honestly think money would solve all your problems?” Again I thought about it for a minute. I had lived in a mildly capitalist society long enough to know that cold hard cash kept the financial wolves at bay. “You know as well as I do the anxiety that stems from personal debt,” I said. “Yes,” the Prozac replied, “But you have a good job – a very good job. You have a nice house, a

wonderful wife, and a beautiful daughter. You have two cars and a gorgeous old Georgian style home. You’re extremely lucky, my friend.” Once again, I thought about it for a minute. It occurred to me that the Prozac’s argument was based on rational thought, whereas my anxiety was typically irrational. It also occurred to me that, even with one billion dollars I would still be enslaved by anxiety. I could eliminate all the rational reasons for it, but anxiety would never leave me alone. It would eventually crush me. Anxiety would grind me down, and debt or debt-free I would never - could never escape it. “I thought you were supposed to make me feel better,” I said. “It’s all an illusion,” the Prozac said. “You can shut the closet door, but that doesn’t mean the bogey man’s not there. He’s always there, sport. Now, what can I do to help?” I didn’t give it any thought at all. “Shut the closet door,” I said.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

An Early Grave by Jason E. Rolfe I passed some foreshadowing on the way to work this morning. The foreshadowing appeared rather grim, and perhaps should have alerted me to the perils lurking further down the road. I’m not the most observant person in the world (that title belongs to my wife – she doesn’t miss a thing), so the less-than-subtle foreshadowing failed to impress upon me the need to turn around, return home, and climb back into bed. In my defence, it was my first day back from vacation and my mind was clearly conflicted. On the one hand, I had fond memories of the time I’d spent in Cape Cod. On the other hand, I felt overwhelmed by the work waiting patiently at my desk for my inevitable return. They say that hindsight is 20/20, and in hindsight the warning signs were painfully clear. They also say that you shouldn’t drive through life looking in the rear view mirror. I’ve also heard them say that ignorance is bliss. A truth exists somewhere within those three oft-used adages. In hindsight, had I looked in the rear view mirror while driving to work I would not have been blissfully ignorant of the foreshadowing I’d passed while en route. All things considered, I can honestly say two things: 1. My hindsight is less than perfect. Although I’ve never officially had it tested I would guess that it’s somewhere around 20/80. I once tried wearing non-prescription reading glasses while looking at things in hindsight, but they only made things worse and left me with a splitting headache. 2. The person I saw standing on the corner of Keil and Riverview smoking a cigarette and holding a scythe wasn’t Keith Richards at all. It was actually Death, and while I missed it entirely, Death apparently (so I was later told) raised the first two bony fingers of his right hand, pointed them at his own empty eye-sockets and then levelled them at me as I drove by. Hardly subtle, I admit, but then my foresight is actually worse than my hindsight. As far as foresight goes I am much closer to 20/200 (or, if you’d prefer the term, “legally blind”). Suffice to say, when I sat down to write this entry in my daily journal I began by saying “I passed Keith

Richards on the way to work this morning” only to be corrected by my wife who, as I’ve previously stated (in parenthesis), doesn’t miss a thing. “That wasn’t Keith Richards,” she explained whilst proof-reading my journal entry. “It was actually Death. Also, you’re using too many parentheses, and your tenuous grip on the narrative is beginning to slip.” “Well then, let’s get back on track!” I said. Death wasn’t the only bit of foreshadowing I missed. Sure, it was the most obvious and should have convinced me to call in sick, but as I’ve already explained, I missed it entirely. Other examples of the foreshadowing I missed on my way to work this morning include: 1. A large group of skeletons dancing atop their coffins in the field at the corner of Merritt and Riverview. 2. Nicholas Poussin actually painting Et in Arcadia ego whilst sipping coffee at the small café on Keil. 3. Several winged angels looking down from a cloud above my place of employment, waving hello and shouting my name. 4. A screaming banshee that followed my car from house to office. 5. A decaying cadaver selling clocks, hourglasses, sundials, and other timepieces that brought to mind the inevitable passage of time. 6. A candle that bore witness to the passing of said time and the fact that, like life, it too would eventually burn itself out. 7. A man wearing a sandwich-board sign that read The End is Nigh, Jason E. Rolfe. In short, I apparently missed a veritable vanitas painting’s worth of foreshadowing on the way to work this morning. As previously mentioned, I was preoccupied with the memories of my recent vacation, and anxieties about the work awaiting my return, so I shouldn’t be held entirely accountable for missing these things. When I finally did arrive at work I went directly to a small meeting room on the second floor. I sat down, sipped my morning coffee,


and waited. I thought I had more time than I actually did, because before too long the door opened and a grave walked into the room. “You’re early,” I told the grave. The grave shrugged and quoted the Book of Matthew, Chapter 24, verse 36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Although really, given your inability to adequately cope with work-related stress and anxiety, and the less-than-subtle foreshadowing you passed on your way to work this morning, my early arrival shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. “You did see me coming, didn’t you?”


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

The Unknown A by Doug Skinner ”Witty and ingenious comics from the exceptionally-talented writer, musician, performer, ventriloquist, and cartoonist Doug Skinner. It’s exciting to finally have these little-seen strips available in one beautiful book. You may be reminded of Voltaire or Ernie Bushmiller while reading these meticulously drawn stories featuring utterly hapless characters, but Mr. Skinner has a style all his own.” — R. Sikoryak, author of Masterpiece Comics

“Mr. Skinner knows many terrible, terrible secrets about us. We are once again fortunate that he chooses to share them so deftly and so altruistically.”—Mark Newgarden

What is the truth behind the “Unknown Adjective”?

Will Walter and Benny find the elusive batworm? What really goes on out in “Cowboy Country”? And can Dr. Docket find a cure for all that ails Mr. Pert?You’ll discover the answers to these and other burning questions in this profusely illustrated collection of comics and picture stories from the brilliant (albeit peculiar) mind of Doug Skinner. Take a look inside and see for yourself. Your daily dilemmas will soon seem inconsequential, and the laughter you hear may turn out to be your own.


Adjective

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 75

and Other Stories

Paperback: 112 pages Publisher: BLACK SCAT BOOKS (June 28, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 0615906095 ISBN-13: 978-0615906096

Editor's Choice


Suncatcher

by Adele Whittle

from the novel "Possession" by A. S. Byatt. "...Pedro of Portugal's rapt and bizarre declaration of love, in 1356, for the embalmed corpse of his murdered wife, Inez de Castro, who swayed beside him on his travels, leather-brown and skeletal, crowned with lace and gold circlet, hung about with chains of diamonds and pearls, her bone-fingers fantastically ringed."


posted by Gisela Monteiro at her blog taphophilia.blogspot.pt


In Search of Mammoths by Allen Ashley It was the time they call the Post-Apocalypse. All the crawling and scrabbling creatures had grown to unwieldy sizes – the insects, molluscs and related organisms. Anything considered to have an exoskeleton had bulked up enormously. It was a dangerous time to be any size at all. The ancient notion of live and let live was never less true as each individual being fought for a foothold in this changed land. Most prominent were the cockroaches, daring to pose almost upright and casting black shadows against the reddened sky, before racing off in skitter-legged convoys to fight their imperialist wars. The giant snails had divided into two distinct ethnic groups. There were the traditional types with their mathematically correct shells based upon sequential and predictable numeric patterns. These were known as the Fibonaccis. Lately, however, a mutant variety had emerged who had altered their DNA against the constraints of good geometry; therefore, these latter were known as the Fibonottis. The King Snail had declared that this simmering

racial conflict was an annoying sideshow and that, “We should cease this internecine warfare and band together as brothers and sisters to increase our species’ survival chances.” However, the ichor lust was up amongst the youngsters and a few sticky situations had presented themselves within the first days of the new world order. As things calmed down, the King Snail gathered his remaining cohort about him and considered the options. It was true that almost everyone was a predator in these post-apocalyptic moments until the situation settled again and flora could reclaim some dominion. Apart from rogue elements within their own species, though, the snails felt fairly safe at present because, so long as they had adequate warning, they were able to take evasive action in terms of retreating into their shells and waiting for the predators to get bored or go away. However, hunger was beginning to hang heavy over the clan. King Snail decided that he would lose his authority if they didn’t eat fairly soon. In an orderly fashion, as befitted their arithmetical heritage,


Geometry

by Łukasz Gać (www.domin-poznan.pl)

they set off for what was left of the jungle in the strong belief that some foliage must have survived there. Along the way, they were aware of occasional scratching noises seeming to shadow their progress, muffled sounds close by but tantalisingly untraceable; they put this down to a few stray Fibonottis considering eventual integration. The trek was long and arduous and their shell burdens hung heavily upon their backs. When the snails finally arrived, it was clear that much of the plant life had been browned and bronzed by recent events; but they feasted upon it anyway. This sudden ingestion of sustenance made the snails weary and careless. As they digested the tainted chlorophyll, they were attacked by a gang of giant birds known as the stone crows. Comprising a variety of rooks, carrion eaters and thieving magpies, these birds had acquired their moniker because they had developed the technique of hiding among the dark rocks before pouncing upon their unsuspecting prey. With vicious precision, the avian flock bit into the necks of the sluggish snails, disabling them, before beginning to peck open their whorled shells. Much cawing and crowing accompanied the birds’ victory.

But they faced a shock. Within these crunchy catacombs a new race of bipeds had been developing in secret, honing their skills and culture within the chitinous caves. Already technologically adept with tools and weapons, these humans set about slaughtering the engorged birds. Working cooperatively, they roasted the breast meat on fires that they lit with the last of the crackly leaves. Using their opposable thumbs to bend and weave, they clothed themselves with the more pliable feathers of their unwitting rescuers and performed shamanic rituals involving gorging, copulation and attempts at transmogrification. The sun set yet their capers blazed on into the night. Their cries and conflagrations should have served as a warning to all other creatures within range but went largely unheeded. When morning dawned, the climate had changed yet again and the triumphant people were greeted with a still, white-grey sky. Their leader stood awhile on the corpse of King Snail to better view his surroundings. At last, he declared, “I predict an Ice Age.” The erstwhile cave dwellers set off away from the jungle in search of mammoths.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Orders Open! Eibonvale Press will be running the usual online ordering fun and games for the first 26 copies of Songs for the Lost – keep your eyes open for that. Most exciting of all, there will also be a small second book by the same author released alongside and forming a companion piece. Ballads To The Burning Twins is basically a poetry and photogtaphy collection - it started out as a kind of 'extra' but it's actually quite a serious book, that ties in with the main collection. It's the first book Eibonvale Press will have got printed on premium paper as well.

Songs for

by Alexander Zeleny

An elegant and haunting co Maybe literally!

“Mr. Zelenyj has an eloquent style of writing that

brings the characters to life for the reader and tak pull on the heartstrings as they bring the reader

some with brutal toothy malevolence while others - Monster Librarian


r the Lost

yj

ollection loosely strung together by ghosts of music.

t gives each story a unique dark flavour and his vivid imagination

kes them places they would never expect to go. Some of the stories close to the characters, but each story has its own dark place -

s are shadows full of emotional pain.�

Editor's Choice


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 83

Best of All by A. Paul Estabrook

Best of all, I love winding up a shame. And I met a dark entranceway in God. He must never know I was about to swear from my jaw... The widow stood clear. The beautiful redhead danced, she sang, she talked loud. An intellectual goddess in bed and yet she was obscure. He could sit quietly in the dim streets with this good woman. Who was his companion? "With new warmth," I said delicately touching her, "Heal." I whistled slow and looked at her in surprise as the night alighted and shook.


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| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

And the Golem Played Jazz by Mat Joiner Our little town of Cirrus Minor has its share of geniuses. Notable among them are the inventor Nancarrow and Doctor Boletus the magician. They’ve always been rivals; the doctor thinks deeper than most of us but original thought isn’t his strong suit. Whilst Nancarrow’s mind is simply ceaseless. It’s perhaps as well that he doesn’t have Boletus’ mental staying power. There’ve been many times where his ideas run away with themselves; I’m thinking now of Lemuel, the telephonic golem. Nancarrow simply fancied a telephone you could use on the move. A more prosaic man might have stuck it on wheels, or made it pocket-sized. He decided instead the phone should follow you about; so, feet. Naturally, the rest of it would have to look humanish. And aesthetically appealing, which Nancarrow is not. He’s not unpleasant company; but goblins and gristle seem to have been involved in his ancestry. His ears resemble pork scratchings; he tried to grow his red hair long enough to cover them, but it tufted like a clown’s wig. So, it was important that his creations were handsome. He ended up with a rather Art Deco chappie shaped from grey plastic with a rotary dial in his high forehead. He’d have been quite a looker if human: waved hair, straight nose, athletic build. A pity he was so tall that Nancarrow needed steps to dial anybody. Auntie Miriam (who may’ve coined the name “Lemuel”) said, “He’s got hands. Get him to use them.” So I got used to Nancarrow wandering about town with the titanic figure of Lemuel in tow, dialling his own brow as if he was calling into question his maker’s sanity. Nancarrow would pause and pull a speaking-tube from the golem’s chest. I was also aware of the glower of Dr Boletus. He’s a dapper magus, plump and sleek with octagonal glasses. One of his less offensive vices is a taste for Parma Violets. He’d always envied Nancarrow’s work. So when Lemuel started “drifting”, the general opinion in the taproom of The Morpheus Arms was that Boletus was up to no good; some aural runes being cast. Although it could as easily have been bad engineering. Whatever the reason, there was something up with the golem’s reception. He was as likely to pick up messages from Venus or the jolly tunes of Curate’s

Eggnog as the adenoidal tones of the switchboard operator. He was like a walking séance. Then came the day everyone agreed Lemuel found his soul. He was jammed into a radio station playing “cool” jazz. Nancarrow fretted, cursed and stuck his head inside the golem’s workings. It was a while before he realised that the clicking wasn’t from the machinery… he took his head out and saw the golem’s vinyl fingers snapping away with the music. Lemuel had pretty good timing. But our inventor was about to dive in with a screwdriver and exorcise the jazz forever when the golem spoke up. A dark and creamy voice he had, too. “Don’t, man. This telephone life ain’t me, dig? This is me.” And Lemuel quit popping his fingers to gesture at the horns and double bass coming from his speaker. Nancarrow boggled. Lemuel picked him up very gently and looked him in the face. “Jazz sets me free,” he crooned. “Inventor man, get me a band.” And Boletus passed by, smirking. If he thought the experiment was over, he was wrong. Nancarrow was a kind chap and decided to let Lemuel go his own way. So in the workshop you heard the golem humming and improvising lyrics while Nancarrow hung around the looser kind of teashops trying to recruit a band. You’ll have seen the type in your own town, I expect; a fauxhemian chancer with a roll-up behind their ear, wearing a sweater some fisherman died in. Anyway, he brought two stringy blokes (who to their credit, could at least play) back to the lab. They looked up at the golem singing; Lemuel looked down at them. “We don’t back poets,” said the band. “I ain’t a versifier,” said Lemuel. “I’m the leader here, fellers.” “You need an instrument. You play anything?” “I will.” The golem snapped his fingers and pointed at Nancarrow. “See to it, yeah?” So the uncomplaining inventor found himself toiling again. What could Lemuel play? Brass was out: useless for an entity who didn’t breathe. The rhythm section was already grudgingly in place. Nancarrow came up with a sort of reinforced piano. Lemuel had an ear for tunes but the keyboard wasn’t golem-proof; he stared in dismay at the smashed ivories. He’d tried to dial the keyboard, you see: old


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 85 habits die hard. “Oh man,” he wailed. “You best put me back in Phoneland.” But they persevered; eventually Nancarrow built some percussive thing that was essentially a stone vibraphone – Lemuel picked up some rubber mallets and had at it. The backing band got behind him too “Tight but loose, right?” the golem said. “Gotta knock the corners off the square.” And other things like that. I never got the lingo, but Aunt M listened in and nodded in understanding. Their first show was at The Mandrake Rooms: actually the old Scout hut, painted black with a coffee machine that looked like a fairground organ gurgling in one corner. Miriam and I were in the front row. Most of town was in; Boletus watched from the back; a reporter from The Cirrus Eye gnawed on her pen. Nancarrow itched about the place. There was a somewhat jaded air to the audience. “Damn them,” Miriam said around her cheroot. “I’m ready to be wowed.” The rhythm chaps slouched on, nonchalant in tinted specs and second-hand suits, pipes at a rakish angle, plucking bass, tapping drums, ignoring the increasingly restless crowd. A spotlight fizzed out. In the dark, Boletus chuckled. After a moment, two purple sparks appeared over the stage – the good doctor’s interference, we thought; then the lights went up. Lemuel was watching us. He looked ridiculous.

He looked magnificent. The world’s biggest Homburg hat was on his head; he wore a trenchcoat improvised from somebody’s curtains. Though his face only ever wore one expression you could tell he was smiling. “Hey Cirrus,” he murmured, and raised his hat. And they went into their set. You can read a review in The Eye which I can’t claim to beat. I’m speaking as a chap who comes out in hives at the thought of a barbershop quartet; I’m not that musical. And yet… Within five minutes pretty much the whole town were clicking their fingers. (I know I was.) The drummer launched into a kind of quiet duel with us. The bloke on the upright bass – so languid that his instrument was the only thing saving him from collapsing – his fingers scuttled up and down, conjuring up gangsters and lovers with his basso rotundo; for an hour, the pipe-smoke turned into cordite and the perfume of the ladies in the crime novels Miriam was so fond of. And Lemuel – ah, Lemuel. He shifted between lunar riffs and runs on the lithophone and crooning. I won’t reproduce any lyrics here; they need to be heard, not read, and besides, they tended to change from show to show. If you haven’t heard the songs, take a good pinch of nonsense, add a spoonful of menace, mix in a bag of sex appeal – that was Lemuel and The Crystal Set. I know we had early versions of Blue On The Village Green, Sketches of Lemuel;

model: Kseniya Gomzjakova

photo by Des Daughton


| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 a child. Now, he kept muttering, “I’ll see him hang.” I had to drag him away from Boletus, who stood there with a solemn mouth but an odious gleam to the eyes. We never found out how it was done – blowtorch or fire-demon – but Nancarrow pressed for murder charges. Boletus stood in the dock at last (the bookies had always laid odds on just exactly what would get him there). Was it that he had the magistrate in his pocket, or that the jury were all what Lemuel would deem “squares”? Either way, the murder charge was overruled; the JP remained unconvinced that Lemuel counted as a living being, though most of Cirrus would have stood witness to argue it. We managed some victory against Boletus, though; he was fined for vandalism. The sum turned him pale. He moved to another town for a while, but it wasn’t the last we would hear of him. Nancarrow broke down after the verdict. Miriam went over to comfort him. She took him by the arm, very gently, and said in his ear, “Lemuel won’t be forgotten, you know. I’ll see to it.” The inventor wiped his face. “But no one else could play it like he did. Those songs are lost!” “Not quite.” She blushed. “I was a little dishonest at that first night…” Dear, dear Aunt M. It turned out that she smuggled a wire-tape recorder into the Mandrake Rooms alongside her hip-flask and made an illicit live album for her own benefit. I’m listening to it now as I type. The sound quality is variable – jazz strained through a handbag, as it were – but Nancarrow tinkered with it long enough that I can still hear the magic. The record needs turning over. One more play, I think. It’s heavy in my hands, a disc of sleek grey vinyl. It was a very limited edition, the pressing restricted by how much of Lemuel’s mortal remains we could salvage. I’m not sure who came up with the recycling suggestion. It might seem rather ghoulish to you, but you weren’t in Cirrus Minor at the time, and we all said, “It’s what he would have wanted.” I angle the record so it catches the light, and I remember his beauty as much as the songs. Of course, I can’t see Lemuel’s features in the grooves; but the music is immortal.

by Adelew Wittle

Ill-Met By Bakelite was pretty much fully formed, even then. It was hard to tell when they’d finished playing, such was the applause. I could feel Boletus’ lip curling; he slunk off before the clapping died. “He’ll be trouble yet,” was my opinion. But it was good to see Nancarrow’s – and Lemuel’s - star on the rise. There was quite a craze that year; I remember the Parish Council stamping out the trend to replace school caps with oversized Homburgs, but scat skipping songs and tea chest basses took over our playgrounds for a few months. And while Lemuel and the boys were wowing the county, there were inevitable cash-ins. The most lamentable was the attempt by the farmers of Cumulo Spodding to promote the “rural jive”; fortunately, their answer to The Crystal Set - “The Horse Brasses” I think they were called, fronted by scarecrows Boletus had animated personally – never made it out of the barn. The good Doctor tried another tack. He invited arty personages to attend an evening of “special” a capella. He was never to work with sirens or banshees again. He denied any knowledge of dry-land drownings, but at least one of the town’s leading families is still dealing with harbingers of doom. So Lemuel came back to us. The Mandrake Rooms had by then expanded into a proper bar, serving coffee of the Irish and continental persuasions; there was talk of a recording contract; but Lemuel himself remained a modest golem. He had his music and the love of a county; it was enough for him. He lived in one of Nancarrow’s disused workshops, polishing his music; you saw him about, trading fingersnaps with street urchins. He seemed rather proud he made it to a picture on a cigarette card. If he had enemies, they were merely “uncool” – he never imagined anyone doing him harm. I imagine him, letting in his last visitor, pleased to show off his latest tune. The wailing that punctured Cirrus Minor the next morning I put down to some new deviltry on Boletus’ part. And so it was. We found Nancarrow keening in his lab. The floor and walls were runnelled, scabbed and splashed with molten grey plastic; a rotary dial lay warped among the remains. A dreadful scorched stench hung in the air, almost hiding the smell of Parma Violets. Nancarrow had loved the golem like

The Owl and the Moon

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Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 87

The Girl in Red by Sissy Pantelis

Hush

by Irina Istratova

I wander in the darkness; the only light comes from the lantern shaped like a broken heart I am holding. I keep walking through the mist trying to ignore the threatening whispers that resound in my mind. The couple appear suddenly – as though the mist has mysteriously materialized into those two eerie figures: a werewolf dressed in a velvet costume and… God, there is no mistake – the girl in red!!! My heart pounds in my chest when I recognize her. She scares the hell out of me – I always feared her much more than her wolf- companion. Now he looks like a gentleman in his elegant outfit and his eyes are so kind! Hers are like green emerald daggers pointed toward my soul; the expression on her beautiful face is as dark, cold and inscrutable as it has been every time I’ve seen her. "Don't be afraid." Her voice is like poisonous honey. "Your decision was good. You need someone who will take care of you." She is right! Why do her words make me shiver with terror? I have no time to ponder the question –

the scenery changes. Now she looks more majestic in her gorgeous red gown. She reminds me of the Queen of Hearts in the book of Bloody Fairies that dad offered me for my last birthday; only the queen has no beautiful red umbrella opened above her head. Something is dripping down from the edge of the umbrella... For a short while, I fear that a rainstorm is about to start, but the drops falling from the red umbrella are not water. They are blood. God, what has she done this time? "I had to kill him," she says in a dreamy voice. "He was always travelling far away and he left me alone. Killing him was not difficult – all I had to do was to utter a few magic words. The tempest broke and his ship sank in the sea. All that remains of it now is a ghost ship with her crew of fearsome spectres, cursed to roam forever in the Dream Sea and punish those who kill the ones they love--” Now she looks like an ethereal siren in red silk. Her dark hair flowing to her waist under a red pirate hat, she sheds blood tears while she sings. "I don't


| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 a red lantern. Damn the moon and her red light!!! The moon is like the girl in red and her fierce wolfcompanion, who appear in my dreams ever since I was a child. They always terrified me, even though I sensed that they are on my side too. They are the guardian angels of my dark side. That part of me that keeps those who harm me far from me, never mind how much I love them. I get a glimpse of my mirror reflection and I jerk in terror. I am her – I am the girl in red and my green eyes are those of a wolf. I grin as if I want to scare myself even more. What do I fear most? The wolf-eyed girl in red or my own dark side? Or do I apprehend the suffering and the deep melancholy I experience every time I put an ocean between myself and the ones I love whenever I feel offended? Oh, enough of those questions! I cannot answer them any way; my wounded mind in confusion is bleeding hallucinations. I grasp the glass of water on my night table and I swallow two pills. Closing my eyes I abandon myself to the red lights that dance behind my eyelids like blazing ghosts in a horror circus. I hope that the girl in red will be back soon. The tranquillizers will put my mind to rest and stop the hemorrhage of black thoughts and delusions. The girl in red in my nightmares will take care of my dark side.

by Hugo Teixeira

regret anything—Non, je ne regrette rien…" Her song is cheerful and macabre at the same time. "He got what he deserved If only he had cared about me; if only he had taken care of me!" I wake up shaking and sweating and I start crying... I imagine myself as a witch performing dark magic to harm the man I love – like the girl in red had done in my dream. In a way, I had acted like her and I certainly hurt my beloved. Did I have to stop seeing him just because we had this ugly argument? I only sought revenge… Now he must be sad, but I am unhappy too. My successful vengeance is of little comfort; my black magic is turning against me. The red moon that shows up at my window looks like a giant drop of blood in the sky. No, this is all nonsense!!! He was not kind to me. He had problems, but did I not try to help him enough? My comforting words were to no avail and he would take all his anger and his frustrations on me. He made me unhappy. He did not take care of me. To get rid of him was the right thing to do; it was the only sensible thing to do. But if I took the right decision then why do I feel that I have done something wrong? Why am I so sad? Is it unjustified guilt or something else--The moon casts its red light on me as if a giant watches me reproachfully from the sky; as if a celestial angel tries to guide and comfort me with

Obscured

88


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 89

She Stood as Someone From the Dark by A. Paul Estabrook

She stood as someone from the dark. Catch is passing on backward. Move me, she said, Am I beautiful? It's not how I feel. Will everyone fight and leave so when it's all over we can touch gently? I said, Own the path out of sight of the widows. Come to build love longbut wait, the beginning was new and nothing would ever grow old like quick hearts rushing faster, faster, faster.


by Hugo Teixeira

| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

The Pianist

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Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 91

Air Coral by Caleb Wilson The sky was the color of a computer screen with a fatal error. There were no functional computers anymore, all the circuitboards corroded into lace. Everyone used abacuses made of cowry shells or just estimated. Life was simpler. There weren't wars, cars, jobs. Mile-high whorls of "air coral" grew everywhere, that was why. The dead coral skeletons, taller than skyscrapers, were bleached white, and new colorful limbs spiraled out from them like the branches of fractal cacti. Pink, green, and yellow tendrils fuzzed out from the live limbs to tangle and consume anyone who walked too close to the coral. Most people on the planet had already been eaten. Only the cool, the hip, and the charmingly lazy remained. Ezredine, strolling along the wooden walkways between bulks of coral, knew just how far away to walk to remain safe. On her back a saxophone hung from a leather strap. She wore a pale seersucker suit with a leather holster at the side, green rubber boots, and a straw hat with a red band, from which protruded two knobbed stalks, like snail's eyes. The hat was new. She'd found it on a shriveled skeleton parked on a hump of coral. In this new world the law was: finders, keepers. She approached a balustrade. She rested her elbows on the silvery, weathered wood, looked out over the maze of deadly coral. Here and there fluttered flags and banners. Potluck Tonight; Swimming Hole; Orgy (Open Enrollment)! Ezredine enjoyed the warm, salty air, still scanning. There was the banner she wanted: Jam Session. It was down to the left, two narrow wooden walkways away. But she could see how the second walkway had shifted overnight with the growth of the coral, and walking that way now would mean her death. There was a different route. It meant a longer walk, along five different walkways, going down, then up, then down again, coming to the site of the Jam Session from another direction. But the morning was lovely, and she had all the time in world. There were no clocks left, only sundials, which dance and sway their shadows, like they're practicing the limbo. After hopping down a short ladder attached to the third walkway connection, three people stepped out of the shadows and into her path. She waved at them. "Hey, guys. Nice morning, innit?"

They didn't have the languid posture of those who had learned to coexist with the ubiquitous air coral. These three were jittery, anxious, angry. There weren't getting out of her way, either. That was cool: she'd backtrack, try another route. "Do you know what you are wearing on your head?" one of the people in her way asked. He was wearing a brown suit with velvet trim, and black leather shoes, hopelessly uncool. "It's a hat, man," said Ezredine. "Where did you steal it from?" The second speaker wore a cranberry red business suit with shoulder pads. Her shoes were very pointy. "Nice shoes, you need to kick things in corners a lot?" said Ezredine. "What? This hat? Oh, I found it. It was on a skeleton. On the skull, I mean." "My God," said the third one. He had on a beige trenchcoat with the belt buckled, and a sideways trucker hat. "Adums is dead then."

Glitched

by Win Leerasanthanah


92

| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 "Yeah, sorry, guys. A friend of yours? He was pretty skeletony. The coral got him." The three people began to converse with one another. "If he's dead, then it means the hat has chosen another." "There is hope after all." "But look at her, she's a lazy slob!" "It doesn't matter, as long as the hat has chosen her to beAdums's replacement!" "Can she wear it?" "She's wearing it now, isn't she?" "But can she handle the pressure?" "Guys, mind if I slip past? I'm actually on my way to jam out on my saxophone. Come with and hang out, if you want." The woman in the red suit began to infodump. "The plague of interstellar airgrowing coral that has ruined almost all that we know and love on this world has encrusted countless other worlds throughout the galaxy. It takes but a single spore, drifting through the vacuum of space, to reach a warm planet with an atmosphere, and the coral will begin to grow. When the uppermost branches reach past the troposphere, more spores will be released and begin their spread. Finally, we have been given a weapon, to fight against the otherwise inexorable coral. The coral's sole predator is the Snailman, or Snailwoman, as the case may be. The hat you wear, which is the emblem of Snailman, drifted to us, a remnant from a failed strike against the coral elsewhere in the solar system, perhaps, but the truth is we do not know its origin. All that we know is that whoever dons the hat becomes the Snailman, or Snailwoman, as the

Deep

by Hugo Teixeira

case may be, and gains special powers to fight the coral, and is bound by duty and tradition to combat and counteract the growth of coral everywhere on the planet. We were the support staff for the former Snailman, Ernist Adums, who, if we are to believe that you found his skeleton, sucked dry by the coral, we apparently failed to fully support. But there is no time to mourn him now! Now the hat is on your head, champion, which means that it has chosen you. You are the new Snailwoman! We are your support staff now, and we will do whatever we can to keep you alive, of course, and in your best fighting trim. Do you have any questions for us? Here is a binder that outlines your new powers, as well as the exercise regimen we have found most successful in keeping the chosen one fit and effective. It will be a hard life, and possibly a short life, but one that has meaning. You alone can save this planet! Any questions?" "Not really," said Ervedine. Wasn't her name something different before? Maybe so, but Ervedine was so laid back that she didn't care. She plucked the straw hat from her head, having decided that it didn't suit her outfit after all, and frisbeed it down over the railing. The hat's eyestalks vibrated in the warm wind. The tripartite support staff screamed as one, and Ervedine jumped down from the collapsing walkway, onto another walkway that was swinging in sideways as it cracked and splintered. A wall of coral rose, twisting, forcing boards and slats in all directions. Sticky tendrils tasted the air, caught who they could. Ervedine, hurrying along another walkway just before it collapsed, almost had to run. But not quite. "Cool if I join?" The musicians in the jam session nodded along with the beat. Closed eyes behind sunglasses, hair shaking and shivering. Ervedine joined the circle and crossed her legs. She brought her saxophone around to the front, laid it over her knees. From the holster at her waist she took out two whittled sticks with rounded knobs on the ends. She began to hit the saxophone, like a clanking, tuneless xylophone, in a simple 4/4 rhythm. Around the circle, one musician clacked two trumpets together like maracas, one thumped a tuba up and down onto the wooden floor, and one gnarled old virtuoso scraped a ukulele back and forth over the strings of an upright bass. "Take a solo, seersucker!" Ezedrine did a 6/8 fill on the side of her saxophone, while in the distance, the growth of coral sent a whispering, grinding din up to the stars. In the distance, and nearby as well.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 93

world small by Michael H. Hutchins for e. e. cummings and jeff mangum

unfurled in the dark listening to radio plays stop hard to catch the myriad ways that sounds of dogs bark and fray the edges of pants as you slyly glance down and chases control your senses patrol the dark of winding lanes that spark with the refrains of Gershwin and Arlen the car when it's new nostrils that grew from the sides of your spine all recline in the down up the chair in the show all aglow with the light smash the bulb as we giggle under sheets by the sand demanding relief from the pain and the grief of waiting and wondering when all will end descending the falling of leaves on the ground while babies lie helpless surrounded by those who drink their champagne and long island teas and wheeze when they no longer care that the fair's about to close lie in rows and repose and recall it's a small but not fair after all world


“I am interested only in "nonsense";

sense. I am interested in life only

~Daniil K


only in that which makes no practical

�

y in its absurd manifestations.

Kharms ~


96

| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

therapy by Ian Towey He got his driver for that week to drop him off at the top of the hill by The Pavilion. A brief glance at the blue-green surge of the sea, the golden sand to the left and the right, and down he went, eyes on his feet, using these precious few minutes to check a few voice-mails as he walked too quickly down the hill to the beach and the Pier. Back then he... But he paused at the bottom, suddenly unsure about exactly what he was doing here, the peaceful early Spring reality of the bright sky and the sand stretching off along the coastline to his left and right causing a slight, unexpected anxiety. There was a cafe- quiet but for a couple of weekend families- on his right, and he tucked the phone away and duckedin for a coffee and a flat ham sandwich on cold white bread. He ate and sipped, and whispered into a digital dictaphone his replys to the voice mails. didn’t know that... Then he got up and left the cafe, pausing on the prom to let a gaily-coloured people-train glide past, the colours of it shocking and dull, a kindof diluted bright, and walked the short distance (seagulls overhead) to the pier. It looked just the same. He lit a cigarette with his brass zippo, and then paused on the boards of the pier, staring at his palm and the lighter in it. A sudden jolt. She had bought this for him, and given it to him here, on this pier, twenty-plus years ago. He blinked. Walked on. The sun dazzled off the water, people glided by. He walked up the boards to the end of the pier. They had hitched-it here, back then. A happy lorrydriver with a belly and a tupperware box of egg sandwiches which they had all shared, laughing and singing along with the music, the rough/smooth of the wheels on the road, the heat of the day. he loved her His phone buzzed loudly on silent in his inside pocket, and suddenly, quickly, he grabbed it out, and shut it off. Should he throw it in the sea? Of course he wouldn’t do that. A boat chugged by on

the sea to his left, people on it, jolly, and he walked on. A sudden thought. It had been funny, but they had seen a comic-book fatman (and he did have a knotted-hanky on the head) fallen asleep in a deckchair here. He had looked ridiculous, fat jowled chin tipped forward on pale hairless chest, arms to the side of his huge fish-belly-white and bloated gut, a spilled newspaper in one hand, a towel on his lap, burning red and more redder in the hot sun of summer on a day twenty-plus years ago now in the past. But wait, he thought. No, no, the geography of it was wrong- wasn’t it? The positioning of things. Had he been sat further on? Up a bit? Back a bit? The other side? No, it had been... been...


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 97 He turned slowly in a big wide circle, trying to find the right spot, and it was like he was the one fixed point and all else, the land and everything on it or of it, orbited around him. How the head messed things up, got it all wrong, somehow. But it was your head. But the telling of the messing up of the head is hindered by the messing up of the head in the telling of the messing up of the head and so you could just never... get it right. There was a dark wooden rail at the end of the pier, and it was scratched deep with the messages of the years, and he smiled. Yes. They had done the same, setting their names in wood... but what had they written? He couldn’t remember, and, suddenly panicked, he walked to the left and the right and then back again back again. But he couldn’t find it. It had been too long, there were too many messages, overlapping, drowning each other. It had been on the right, hadn’t it? On the wood on the right. But he looked and looked and he just couldn’t see it,

he couldn’t see their silly message to each other, carved forever in wood at the end of this pier on a day in summer twenty-plus years ago by two young lovers too lost in the moment to... to what? He stood at the end of the pier and gripped the wood tightly in his fists, the knuckles white, the day bright, the sound of the sea that the sea made. and she loved Suddenly, he was blinking furiously, chest hitching. A young hand grabbed his elbow, and he span round, not sure quite what he was thinking. ‘Hey mate...’ said a skinny young fool with stoned eyes, and three fat girls, giggling, ‘Can I buy a cigarette off-of you?’ ‘Leave me alone!’ he shouted, and shook the hand off. Then he watched as the four of them shuffled off, the girls biting their lips, looking back, concerned, the teenager/boy slumped, dragging his feet.He turned quickly back to the view of the slight-cloud horizon, gripping the wood harder, his arms suddenly shaking. He took a few deep breaths, closing his eyes. Then he laughed, but it was no laugh, it was a sound, some sound coming out. Why? He was asking himself. Why had he not just said it, said it at the time he should have said it? Why? Three little words. Great words if said sincerely, only became foolish words and/or morbidly telling, in retrospect. But he hadn’t ever said them, not to the right person like he should have, but... but... but. The positioning of things, the location and positioning of remembered people, the appearance of the pier hand-rail and the spot where you wrote those silly msgs. Is it new? Was your memory wrong? she had loved him, been in love with him! And then, hands gripping the wooden railing, his head leaning out over the sea, the tears dropping down and into it and he thinks perhaps, at this moment, or even at all moments at the end of all the piers in the world there were hundreds of grown men like him crying into the sea, and perhaps this is why the sea was filled with so much salt.

Astrophysics

by Win Leerasanthanah


98

| The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Being a Zombie is No Picnic (it’s a Smorgasbord) by Mark Terence Chapman

August 25, 2014 Letter to the Editor, New York Times: Many among the “living” have the mistaken notion that being a zombie is all fun and games. Sure, we get to tear the temporarily-still-living limb from limb, and we do wreak havoc with great regularity, but even the undead have to make a living. Hence my reason for submitting this true-to-unlife tale of undeath and destruction. Yeah, rending the flesh from those bags-ofwalking-meat provides us with all the food we can eat. But without a working digestive tract, we’re always hungry. Have you ever experienced neverending hunger? Think bottomless pit—literally; the food falls right through. And how am I supposed to provide for my family if I don’t have money to put rags on my unkids’ rotting backs, or baubles around my unwife’s putrid neck? (“Unwife” because death did us part.) After all, it’s not like I can just drag myself into an unemployment office and find a regular job. Why not, you ask? One of the tragedies of unlife is that we zombies are regularly discriminated against. It’s true! People run screaming from the very sight of us. Unfortunately, many zombies are handicapped: we’re missing limbs or organs or jaws. (How would you like it if your eyeballs kept falling out?) But is that any reason to turn away from us? Okay, so the maggots consuming our flesh create a stench that gags even those with strong stomachs. This makes it difficult for us to hold down an office job—unless it has really good ventilation. Let’s not even talk about the itching in embarrassing places! Just try to find maggot cream at your local pharmacy. Or, for that matter, wormproof contact lenses. Decomposition doesn’t exactly improve our vision, you know... Think Erectile Dysfunction is bad? Try having your member wither and fall off at the worst possible moment. Talk about ED! Sure, go ahead and laugh. It’s funny when it happens to a zombie,

but a national tragedy when it happens to the living. Strangely enough, super glue doesn’t work all that well on rotting flesh, and duct tape can only do so much. Does the government do anything to prevent this sort of discrimination? No! In fact, they actually make matters worse. Okay, so the undead don’t pay taxes anymore. Is that any reason to terminate medical and dental benefits, pensions, and social security payments? I say, no! We haven’t gone anywhere. We’re still walking/dragging/creeping around. If anything, our need for assistance has grown, not ceased. After all, who needs medical treatment more than a zombie who’s literally falling apart? Who needs orthodontia more than a zombie who has to carry his teeth around in a plastic bag? Who needs money more than a zombie who can’t get work because she “scares customers away”? What a crock! Instead of calling us “undead,” try thinking of us as “extremely retired.” And consider the emotional trauma inflicted on a poor, unfortunate zombie child when one of the socalled “living” screams and runs away in horror. It’s humiliating for the child and embarrassing for the parent (especially when he tries to comfort his child and she falls through his lap!). And consider that while many children have to combat short attention spans, a zombie child is literally brain-dead! Don’t even get me started on the whole dating scene. A living person wouldn’t date one of us if he/ she were the last person on Earth (which may yet happen—don’t plan too far ahead). If that’s not bad enough, the dead give us the cold shoulder. We’re discriminated against from both sides. The best way to “mainstream” the disaffected zombie population in this country is not to shun us but to offer us legitimate work. This would allow us to hold our heads up high (as long as they don’t fall off), pay taxes again like citizens, and to reap the same rewards of citizenship as those enjoyed by the living. Think of all the budding doctors who could benefit from having animate corpses to study. How about radiation-proof astronauts who don’t need air to breathe? Maybe moving targets for attack dogs. Or sex


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 99 therapists for necrophiliacs. And who better to console the dying than someone who has “been there and done that”? Instead, our talents are going to waste, simply due to our appearance. (Okay, so maybe we also have a certain fondness for brains. But trust me, the people we “borrow" the brains from aren’t using them, anyway. I mean, really, what idiot enters a darkened room backwards, when they know killer zombies are on the loose?) If discrimination due to race, sex, religion, and sexual orientation is not to be tolerated, I say it’s time to end discrimination against the heartbeatchallenged! Now that you have seen a demonstration of my writing skills (made all the more remarkable by the fact that my fingers frequently break off when I type), might I humbly suggest that you offer me a staff position (perhaps writing an alternative deathstyles column; or maybe as a “zombie on the street” reporter)? How better to attract more zombie readers to your publication? (At least the ones with eyes.) We’re an untapped demographic that your advertisers are completely overlooking. Who needs deodorant more than a putrescent zombie? And how about prosthetic limbs? Or unlife insurance? (We don’t die forever, you know.) The market opportunity

is limitless! Can you really afford to keep missing out on such a large population? There are millions of us “out there,” and our legions only keep growing. So there it is—my sales pitch. If you hire me, I’ll promise that as long as I’m working for your fine newspaper, I’ll never attempt to eat any of your subscribers. Cross my ex-heart and hope to (sort of) die. Well, okay, maybe an occasional ladyfinger; but only when I’m jonesing....

Sincerely, Carl (Stumpy) Lofton St. Francis Cemetery Kill Devil Hills, NC, USA

Zombie

by Carla Rodrigues


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Aquarium by Anne E. Johnson

by Sebastião Peixoto

Look it up, babe.” Between handfuls of cheese curls, Claudette googled “Glowing fish.” “What kind of eggs did ya use, Angus?” “Uh…” He couldn’t find his steno book right then. “Not sure, why?”

Bolota

Angus watched the fish swim behind his eyeballs. It tickled each time it bumped into an eardrum and flipped around, swiveling past his brain in the other direction. “This is one of those side effects,” Angus said to his wife Claudette, “which there was no way to predict.” Claudette was having none of it. “The serum was made from fish eggs. You told me so yourself.” “Well, yeah.” He tried to focus his eyes outward, but Claudette’s sour expression was poor reward for his efforts. “But I could hardly have known they’d hatch, could I?” She looked at him closely. “I don’t get it. How can you see him?” “Who?” “The fish. Inside your head.” Claudette took a drag on her cigarette and narrowed her eyes. “I mean, it’s dark in there.” She tapped her temple with an index finger. “Yeah, but…” Angus thought of himself as a scientist, so he was determined to come up with an answer to this riddle. Sure, the fish had hatched from the fluid he’d extracted from the roe. He’d shot the fluid into his blood-brain barrier by means of a long syringe. It hadn’t hurt nearly as much as he’d expected. In any case, he figured it was worth it, for science’s sake, to see whether he could mutate his brain cells to be more, well, fish-like. When the idea had first taken a strangle-hold on him in the wee hours a few weeks before, the advantages of creating an ichthyan hybrid were obvious. Legion, even. But now, in the middle of the experiment in which he was both tester and subject, he couldn’t remember any of that nonsense. He loved science for its own sake, and practical applications be damned. “So?” Claudette’s pasty cheeks flapped inches from Angus’s eyes as she gave his skull a once-over. “You got an answer? How can you see the fish?” Angus watched and felt the thing wiggle around the fishbowl of his noggin. “It’s glowing,” he announced with satisfaction. This was more like it. He was starting to use observations and the Scientific Method, as he did with all his projects. The next step was to get more data. “What kind of fish glows?

“Was it a, a,”---she pronounced the classification carefully---“Argyropelecus hemigymnus?” “And what’s that when it’s at home?” “A hatchet fish, dear.” “Oh, right. Yeah. That’s the one. So, I used hatchet fish eggs. That’s what Harry had lying around the back of the shop. What of it?” Claudette licked the cheese powder off her fingers. “Hatchet fish glow in the dark.” This seemed promising. “But,” cautioned Claudette. “But what?” “They do need a few photons of light for their bioluminescence to work.” She took a gulp of cola and looked at Angus, it seemed to him, accusingly. “See here, I can’t control it if there’s some light in my head, can I? My nose, my mouth, my ears, my eye sockets. Orifices in general I would classify as a hotbed of light photons, you know?”


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 101 “I didn’t say nothing.” “Yeah, well, you were looking daggers.”

This work was originally published on http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com

by Sebastião Peixoto

“So, what are you gonna do about it?” “About what?” “The fish. In your head.” Angus thought for a moment. “It isn’t really doing anyone any harm. Suppose I could just leave it there.” “Hmmm. Might make it hard to drive. It’ll distract you from the road.” Good old Claudette. Always practical. “Quite true. How do I get rid of it, then?” “How should I know? You’re the scientist.” She clicked over to a shopping site and started looking at shoes. This always seemed to happen. Angus would have a brilliant scientific idea. He’d get halfway through an experiment and it would just fizzle out. He had one green arm, an ear with an exo-skeletal casing, two livers, and a nine-volt battery poking out of one knee. “Right,” he said, feeling his usual sense of defeat. “Guess you’ll have to do the driving from now on.” He went into the bedroom to have a nap. When his head hit the pillow, the fish floated up and lodged against his right eye. Unable to sleep because of the glow, Angus considered what it would require to make a foot grow a permanent shoe. Claudette was forever maxing out their credit card on that site.


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1978 by Ian Towey ‘Hurrah!’ cried the Fatman, as dinner was served. A big restaurant named The Salty Beast. It was crowded, busy and noisy. In the centre of the restaurant was a very large spinning blue One Way sign with an arrow pointing clockwise. -> But then: ‘Wait!’ the Fatman cried. He was gaping at his plate, this plate just placed before him- this empty plate. ‘Sir? Is there a problem?’ The Waiter seemed anxious - he kept glancing at the palm of his own left hand, then he would smile inanely and prod his palm delicately with the forefinger of his right hand. The Waiter shivered, and then glanced outside. A huge Hiss of air-brakes as the massive side of a lorry parked-up and blocked the tinted-rectangle of the restaurant’s window. It got darker. It was impossible for the Fatman to discern what the design on the side of the lorry depicted because nothing like it had ever been seen; a giant “S” and a giant “I” amongst other letters. ‘I think it’s too late-’ ‘Yes, sonny. No food on the plate. I ordered, well- a lot?!’ The One -> Way sign continued to spin very fast. ->->-> ‘Why the devil are you all the time prodding your palm so intently?’ asked the Fatman. ‘Ho-ho-ho,’ said the Waiter. ‘Wait for this, but you cannot believe it. I am from the future. It’s a habit. A habit. 3 times to make it true, it’s a habit. But I am from the future - beyond the crank of the Millenium indeed - and I’m here in the past to warn you ab- ’ The words from the Waiter were (ZAP!) drowned-out because of a commotion at the wide double-doors of the restaurant as 3 burly men from the lorry barged through the queuing customers wheeling tall, boxey rectangular things on trolleys. The One Way sign continued, very fastly, to spin. Round and round and round->andround->andround>androundand -> The Fatman screamed, ‘FOOD!’ The knife-and-fork gripped tight in his pudgy mitts, he banged the pristine white of the tablecloth. ‘It is too late. Look!’ ->->->->-> The side of one of the tall, boxey rectangular things said: SPACE INVADERS The Fatman gaped. He started to cry, and pointed at his empty plate. ‘Are you a bloody Philosophy student!?’ ‘The Aliens have landed.’

by Sebastião Peixoto


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 103

The mePhone by Boris Glikman

Local Call

by Michael Cheval

One day a new type of phone that you could use to call yourself appeared on the market. All one had to do was dial a certain number and one would be connected straight away with oneself. The quality of the reception was so good that the voice on the other end of the line sounded as if it was coming from the very same room. Inevitably, there was some initial apprehension about using this phone, for no one quite knew what kind of a response they would receive when they rang themselves out of the blue for the very first time. What if their unexpected call was considered to be an impertinent invasion of privacy? Eventually, these fears subsided as most found that they were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm and their calls were seen as a pleasant surprise. Talking with yourself was just like talking with a dear friend you haven’t seen for a long time and conversation flowed easily.


104 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 People rushed to purchase this new invention, which was marketed under the brand name of “mePhone”. Suppliers could not keep up with the demand and there were ugly scenes as customers fought amongst themselves for the last available mePhone. For mePhone to work properly certain rules had to be followed, and these were set out in the Owner’s Manual. First, the reception only worked in particular areas, access to which required an extra fee. Second, there was a strict time limit on how long you could spend speaking to yourself. And third, when using the mePhone, one had to wear special, rather cumbersome apparel that was sold separately from the phone. Also, owing to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, the cost of a call was outrageously expensive, although some enterprising phone companies, hoping to capitalise on the popularity of the mePhone, for a while only charged it at a local call rate. However, these inconveniences were more than outweighed by the benefits you gained from having a good chat with yourself, for no one had ever had the time to stop and take a good, honest look at their lives. Everyone was always rushing about, preoccupied with the mundane details of existence, trying to silence the nagging question of whether they were happy with their lives and if they were being true to their inner selves. And so it was an enlightening experience to be able to have a deep and meaningful talk with oneself. The users of the mePhone could now catch up with all the things in their lives they had never had the chance to think about before, to find out the vital news that fell by the wayside as they were speeding along the road of life. People found that talking with yourself was a lot like talking to an old confidant, with whom the most intimate matters could be discussed. Not infrequently tears were shed as truths one had been hiding from oneself for many years were conveyed in blunt and forthright terms. Conversations gained a confessional aspect as darkest secrets known only to oneself were divulged openly over the phone lines. Quite often, surprises were lying in store as people discovered what they were actually feeling inside. At other times, the voice on the other end of the line would remind you of your long-neglected dreams, of desires and needs you had suppressed for far too long. Many found out they weren’t really happy in their places of employment. Some realised they had

fallen out of love a long time ago. Others saw for the first time that they had deluded themselves as well as others into believing they had reached fulfilment, regardless of how they actually felt inside. Quite a few recognised that they had become so comfortable with being miserable and disenchanted that they shrank back in fear when contentment appeared to be within easy reach. The world became a better, happier place because of the mePhone as people at last began to be true to their own selves, for they knew they could no longer get away with lying to themselves. The way life had been before the mePhone was just a distant, faded memory and no person could imagine ever being without one.

This story was inspired by a painting called “Local Call” that was created by Michael Cheval, a great artist from New York. It depicts a lone man sitting on a cloud and talking on a phone that looks a lot like a hookah pipe. One obvious interpretation of this story is that the mePhone is a metaphor for meditation and self-inquiry, but other interpretations are possible too. ~ Boris Glikman ~


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 105

“God is an idea. Nothing is so ambiguous as an idea.” ~ The Gospel of the Hanged by David Soares ~


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Revelata Subterranea by Boris Glikman One day, my friends and I descended into the sewers beneath the metropolis and discovered the most unusual eel-like creatures lounging indolently on the concrete banks of the subterranean river. There they were, lying close to the river's edge, only deigning to bestir and dip their heads languidly into the passing current, when a particularly choice morsel of human waste floated by Their appearance overpowered me with its repulsiveness.

by Andy Paciorek

"How could Evolution ever conceive and give birth to such a horrible abomination?" I remember wondering to myself, "How could Nature ever allow such a glaring insult against Herself to arise and flourish; such a travesty, such a betrayal, such a perversion of the very natural order?"


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 107 Yet when I looked closer at these anathemas, a most astounding feature revealed itself to me. Somehow, through some playful whim of the Goddess who directs and oversees the evolutionary process, these overgrown worms developed human faces. Nay, not just human faces, but visages of angelic beauty such that no earthly woman would ever dare to possess, lest the Gods become spiteful and jealous. This discovery was so unexpected, the radiance of their mien so intense, I stood transfixed, unable to take my gaze even for an instant away from these heavenly subterrestrial creatures. Their eyes looked at me with all the cognition of a person; Their facial expressions were those of kindness, serenity, wisdom. There were two over to the left, holding their heads close to one another, gazing deeply, just like two lovers, into each other's eyes. Suddenly I felt an odd sort of compassion for them.

I try to have my writings communicate many different layers of meaning and so I am pleased that this poem has been interpreted from such different perspectives as philosophical, psychological, spiritual, sociological, literary and humorous. In fact, it has received more interpretations from readers than any other of my pieces of writing. This poem is one in a series of poems that are about revelations of certain truths, each poem taking place in a different setting: one in the sky, one underground and one in the body. ~ Boris Glikman ~


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The Garden or Hayfever! by Victor Davidson poem submitted by his grandson Phil

In the Spring, the Snowdrops show their pretty face, Later on, the Daffodils our little gardens grace, Tulips follow on with their smooth stems and heads and Forget-Me-Nots and Bluebells fill our flowerbeds. But when the Summer comes around: A burst of colour so gay; The Buddleia, Hollyhock and Rose Become one wondrous bouquet! So sit in your garden and enjoy your repose But doesn’t the pollen get up your nose!


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Old Desires by Victor Davidson poem submitted by his grandson Phil

I find that desire Has lost its fire As Time has passed away. I feel that life Without the strife Is a far better way. The goods and chattels, For which many fight battle, Have now lost their meaning. I do not care How others fare In their covetous gleaning! I let them grovel For rich goods novel And all the Pleasures of Plenty. Such peace of mind Do I now find In quiet and serenity!

by Sebasti達o Peixoto


by AK3D | AndrĂŠ kutscherauer (http://www.ak3d.de)

Selfillumination


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 111

Being a Vampire Sucks! by Mark Terence Chapman

Letter to the Editor, New York Times: I am writing in support of the letter written by that zombie guy. He has every right to complain about discrimination. It’s positively shameful how the living treat his people. However, the problem of discrimination against the undead extends far beyond only zombies. Vampires are equally scorned and mistreated and we, too, suffer from various medical maladies and physical limitations. For instance, as is widely known, we can only emerge from our coffins at night. Sunlight burns like acid. Sure, we can cover our pale skin with a combination of Revlon and SPF200 sunblock, and wear some really cool shades. But that only treats the symptoms; it doesn’t cure the problem. Imagine how you’d feel if exposure to sunlight for only a few minutes was fatal. And why are crazy people called “batty”? That’s just hurtful to vampires. How about a little sensitivity, people? As for our dietary requirements, it’s not like we choose to drink only human blood. I mean, come on! Blood? Sheesh. Still, how would you like it if you could eat only broccoli, or even sirloin, 24/7? It would get pretty monotonous after a while, wouldn’t it? Try doing it for centuries. God (yeah, I said it), what I wouldn’t give to be able to suck back some cold brewskis and chow down on brats and sauerkraut, like I did before I ran into a certain pain-in-the-neck. I’m frequently asked why we don’t simply switch to animal blood. My answer is in the form of a question: Have you ever eaten five-alarm chili? That’s pretty much the effect cow’s blood has on our stomachs. And it burns almost as much coming out as it does going in. Besides, I don’t really care

by Hugo Teixeiras

August 31, 2014

for that grassy aftertaste. Pig, horse, and sheep blood is almost as bad, and smaller animals aren’t even worth the trouble. (I’d have to spend all night chasing squirrels, and then who’d pick up all those acorns?) An occasional puppy might work, but then we’d have to contend with hate mail from the bleeding-heart liberals. Then there are the silly stereotypes attributed to my people. Really, now! Hanging from rafters by our feet? Have you ever tried that for more than a few minutes? Headache city! And forget that “invisible to a mirror” nonsense. We are absolutely not invisible. Highly translucent, maybe, but not invisible. And as for being able to turn into bats, well, yes that’s true. But big deal. Who wants to be a “flying rat,” anyway? It certainly doesn’t help me meet chicks. (Now, if I were a flying Prada shoe, perhaps....) Also, do you have any idea how long it takes for someone with a six-inch wingspan to get anywhere? It’s like the punch line to that old joke: “And boy are my arms tired!” Give me a Harley, anytime. As for sleeping in a coffin filled with soil brought from the old country, oh come on! Have you priced genuine

Vampire

Following the publication of a letter to the editor in our August 25, 2014 edition, the response has been surprising and unprecedented. The letter, written by a self-professed zombie, apparently struck a chord among the millions of undead “living” among us. Here, then, is one of the many follow-up letters we received.


112 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 Transylvanian soil these days? (And you have to watch out for the counterfeit stuff; it’s everywhere!) Don’t even get me started on the dry cleaning bills. I’ll take a waterbed any day. Look, if the living want us to stop preying on humans, the answer is simple: give us access to blood banks. Just provide us with ID cards or coupons (think of them like food stamps) so we can walk right in and make a withdrawal once a week. That will eliminate all the midnight attacks the living populace fears. (Well, okay, it may not cure the growing werewolf problem—the filthy creatures— but, hey, that’s not within my purview.) Perhaps blood bank access will finally remove the stigma attached to being a vampire and let us show our faces in public (at night, of course). Who knows? One day it may even be trendy to be a vampire the other 364 days a year. Come on, my fellow vampires! Now is the time to stand up and be counted. Write to your congressman and demand your rights. Free blood banks, today! (And while you’re writing, why not ask for urinals near the ceilings in men’s rooms? This peeing-whilehanging-from-rafters nonsense is batty. Nobody’s aim is that good!)

by Chris Harrendence

The Beast, aka Rupert

Sincerely, Bela Linguini Belfrey Abbey Brevard (Transylvania County), NC, USA


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 113

Amerika In The Sky (In Memoriam) by Boris Glikman I remember that day starting off ordinarily enough, there I was playing in the open field not that far from home, the sky azure with hardly a cloud blighting its face.

by Rosa Seyah

The lay of the land is so perfectly flat I can see unencumbered all the way to the horizon. As the day proceeds, the heavens rotate slowly on their axis. Towards mid-morning something very odd catches my eye on the eastern horizon. It is something that I have never seen in the sky before but there it is before me, arising slowly from beneath the edge of the earth. By some incomprehensible process, the continent of North America has become attached to the celestial sphere at the place where land and heavens meet and is slowly getting unravelled from the crust of the Earth. At first, while the continent is still at a shallow angle in the sky, the North American people seem to be enjoying their unique experience, smiling,

laughing, some even waving to me down below. As the heavens continue their inexorable turning and the continent slowly approaches the celestial zenith, the fun and the mirth turns to panic and despair. At midday the continent reaches the highest point in the sky, hanging precisely upside down and the Sun is completely eclipsed. The people are now in their most precarious position, desperately trying to hold onto anything that is firmly rooted in the ground, to any moorings whatsoever, to blades of grass, to soil itself. Even when they completely lose all grip on land, still they attempt to find some protuberance in the fabric of the sky that they can hold onto, to save themselves from this terrible disaster, to give themselves just one more instant of stability, just one more instant of life. I can see that some of the people hold hands as they fall, others are kissing and hugging, while others still are engaged in more intimate activities. I look away, not wishing to intrude upon the privacy of their last significant moments together. As the continent remains in the apex of the sky, buildings' foundations start to loosen, roots of plants are no longer able to cling to the soil; the once mighty rivers empty their banks in cataclysmic downpour of unprecedented proportions. After all the signs of civilisation and life - buildings, forests, houses - disappear, the ground itself begins to give way and disintegrate. The earth slowly loses its compactness and adhesiveness, dripping down in small spurts at first and then in great lumps. Here and there, the liquid magma substratum is peeking through the locations where the entire continental crust fallen off. Thankfully, some clouds appear and block these scenes of suffering and chaos but then they quickly disperse and again I'm unable to look away, unable to avert my gaze from


114 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

by Rosa Seyah

the largest catastrophe that has ever been witnessed by the human eye. But what right do I have to look, God-like, upon the numberless agonies? Who am I to watch scenes of suffering so terrifying that even Death itself turns its bony face away in fright? After an interminable span of time, the continent begins to move away from the zenith. I can see that a fortunate few have somehow managed to survive the nearly total destruction of the landscape of North America and they are approaching the horizon and security of the ground again. Thank goodness they now will be able to descend safely and be lauded as heroes, as survivors of the most horrific journey that any human being has ever had to go through. Alas, that is not to be, and my hopes are proven to be woefully inaccurate. For when this god-forsaken and ill-fated continent reaches the horizon again, it collides sharply with the stubborn, unyielding ground that is already there. A catastrophe even

worse than the one I witnessed earlier in the day begins to unfold before my terrified eyes. In the far horizon, an inexorable process is taking place as two continents attempt to occupy the same location at the same time and one of them has to lose out. Northern Canada and Alaska are the first to go. Bit by bit they are torn apart as the stationary earth refuses to shift and stands firm its ground and those remaining alive that we thought would be the lucky survivors are crushed to dust. I cannot help but rush to their aid, to try to save at least some lives. Suddenly I halt as I realise that the horizon is an illusory point in the distance that keeps receding further and further as you walk towards it and so I would never be able to reach the doomed ones. By now, more than half the continent has been ground into fine powder as the merciless process continues without ceasing. The major metropolises of the United States, the founts of so much knowledge, art, music, creative energy, are being pulverised into


by Rosa Seyah

Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 115

nothingness; never before has there been destruction on such a thoroughly unmitigated scale. Icy pieces of Alaska intermingle with the glassy shards of New York City and with bits of tinsel of Los Angeles. Would it ever be possible to reconstruct America from these clouds of dust? Civilisations, cities, entire countries have been rebuilt from ruins before, but this is annihilation of an entirely different nature, from which there's surely no coming back. "Well, there goes the New World. " I think wistfully. "No longer will we have America in our lives. It is all gone in the most cruel and terrible fashion right before my very eyes. And yet, its ashes and dust will settle all over the world, infusing every cell of the remaining planet. Forever more it will provide fertilisation for the world to go on growing and progressing the way America once did and we will be able to say proudly that we all now have America in our very souls."

This story is based on a dream that I had and then expanded upon and for me it is partly a tribute ( in a dream-like kind of a way ) to 9/11 but it supports other interpretations as well. I have been working on this story, on and off, for about 6 years now, editing and re-editing it and adding new material to it. Consequently, I have many different versions of it, ranging from the original 1000 words version to the final, definitive version of around 20,000 words that I am still working on. ~ Boris Glikman ~


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The Sub-Basement by Lou Antonelli “This has got to be the greatest wild goose chase of all time.” “Stop kvetching and keep probing,” said Brad. “One of these concrete slabs is really a door and will pivot if you lean on it just right.” “If you think there really is a secret subbasement in the Empire State building, don’t you think somebody would’ve learned about it by now?” asked Burke. “Not with that level of secrecy. If there had been an attack on New York and anyone knew about it, there would have been a mad rush. We’re deep under mid-town Manhattan.” Burke grunted as he continued to test the wall. “You would have thought somebody would find the blueprints or some kind of record.” “Like I said, it was a top-secret project,” said Brad. “I’m sure the records were destroyed. But my grandfather helped pour the concrete. He told me about it just before he died.” “If it was so top-secret, who was supposed to use it?” “The city’s top leadership,” said Brad. “Except it was so secret, even they didn’t know where it was. At any given time there was only one person in the city government who knew its location, and if an attack was pending, he was supposed to disclose its location to the select few.” “That’s assuming your grandfather didn’t get off one last hoax on his gullible grandson before he died,” said Burke. “Listen, I’m sure he was telling the truth. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars paying off building officials and security to get us the opportunity to some down here and check,” said Brad. “We’re already 100 feet below street level, and the secret sub-basement should be below us.” “They took your money and let us down here because they think we’re pair of chumps,” said Burke. Brad moved to another slab. “Remember when they found the fallout shelter in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in 2006?” he asked. “How can I forget, you’ve mentioned it a hundred times,” said Burke. “But...” He paused and grunted. “Hey, this slab just shifted!” Brad ran over. “I told you, one of these is pivoted.

If we lean on it just right, in the right place...” He began to push. “Give me a hand, will ya!” Burke placed his hands next to Brad’s, and as they leaned on the slab it began to turn. “It’s pivoted in the middle,” said Brad. “Move your hands towards the edge.” As they did, the slab turned perpendicular to the wall. Brad shone his flashlight inside. “What do you see?” asked Burke. “There’s a small landing and a staircase,” said Brad. “My grandfather was right, the bomb shelter is well below the rest of the building.” Burke gave him a light shove. “Well, let’s get in there, isn’t this what you’ve been looking for!” They stepped inside onto the landing, and began to walk down the concrete steps, holding a metal railing. “Dude, I can’t believe you were right!” exclaimed Burke. “You’re like the Emperor of the Urban Explorers!” It took them a few minutes to reach the bottom of the staircase. “We must be another 100 feet below the sub-basement,” said Brad. “They could have dropped a bomb on 34th Street and you’d never know.” There was an open doorway. “I wonder how far this corridor goes on?” asked Brad. “It slopes, and I can’t see the end.” They moved forward and in few minutes after walking down a relentless vista of poured concrete, they saw a heavy metal door with “Fallout Shelter” stenciled in plain green letters. They stood there, looking it up and down. “No rust, not even any dust,” said Brad. “This place has been sealed airtight for decades.” Burke pointed to a keyhole. “So now what?” “We’ve done what we came to do,” said Brad. “There have been legends of a secret sub-basement under the Empire State Building for years. We’ve found it.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small digital camera. “Now we make a record, and head back topside.” He began to snap photos. Burke took out his own camera. Their flashes lit up the corridor. Brad cocked an ear. “Did you hear something?” Burke smiled. “I don’t even think there are


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 117

by Hugo Teixeiras

On the top of the roof

rats down here.” Brad held up a hand. “Listen! There it is again!” “I heard it this time!” They leaned towards the door. They heard a grinding sound, a metallic rattle and then the door cracked open. Burke mouthed. “Oh, my god!” They both stepped back. The door slowly opened and a head of dark hair appeared, with a very pale face below it. The boy in the door called back inside. “They’re here, we’re rescued!” Brad and Burke looked at each other. Brad mouthed “What the fuck?” The boy grabbed the edge of the heavy metal door and pushed it open. “We knew some day people would finally clear the rubble and get us out.” Brad looked and Burke, who was equally stunned, and then turned to the boy. “How long have you been down here?” “I was born here,” he said. “In 2000. That’s why I’m named Mill. My grandfather brought our family here in 1962.” Brad and Burke saw there was light inside. “Come inside,” he said. “We want to show you our home, before we leave it.” Mill turned and Brad and Burke followed

him inside, where there were a half-dozen people gathered, all equally pale. A middle-aged lady clasped her lifted hands. “Thank God, I lived to see the day!” A very old woman stepped forward. “I am Rose Rabinowitz, I’ve been here since the war started. My husband--may he rest in peace--brought our daughter Nancy and I down here, along with a playmate, Billy Treaster.” She gestured towards three teenagers. “Mill, Stan and Carol are my grandchildren, Billy and Nancy’s children.” Rose grabbed Burke’s hand. “We’re not bitter about being left down here for so long, we know how the building came down and crushed everything beneath it,” she said. “We knew it would take years to dig us out.” “Is it safe to live in the city again?” asked Carol. “Or is it still all glowing at night?” “I thought you had all forgotten about us,” snarled Stan. Billy smiled. “He thought we should have begun to dig ourselves out.” Brad stood there like he was nailed to the floor. After an uncomfortable silence, he squinted and said the first thing that popped in his mind. “Where are you getting electricity?” “Oh, we have a small nuclear reactor,” said Mill. “We have a water and air purification system, and a hydroponic garden,” said Rose. “The shelter was designed to hold three dozen people for as long as 20 years; we still have packaged food that’s never been opened.” Burke looked around. “There’s a lot of bunks and empty space,” he said. “I can tell this place was meant to hold a lot more people.” He cleared his throat. “Why are you down here at all?” The others looked around at each other nervously. Rose spoke up. “My husband brought us here immediately when the sirens sounded; he was going to alert the other city officials. He was the only person who knew the location of this secret shelter - but before he could the ground shook and all the lines communication went dead. We knew the city had been destroyed.” “He said at least we would survive, and he closed the door,” she continued. “He said the Russians must’ve used the new intercontinental missiles instead of bombers. That’s why there was so little time.” “What attack are you talking about?” Burke snapped.


118 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 “When Kennedy blockaded Cuba after Khrushchev moved in missiles in October 1962,” said Rose. “There have been other atomic wars?” asked Billy. “Okay people, I really don’t know how to explain this, but there have been no atomic wars,” said Brad. “The Cuban missile crisis never turned into a shooting war. I don’t know how or why you were fooled into barricading yourselves down here, but we simply walked in after finding the secret entrance. We came in through the front door of the Empire State building -- and we’re all going out the same way.” “That’s impossible,” said Nancy. “The staircase filled completely up with rubble when the building came down. The Empire State building must have taken a direct hit.” Burke began to laugh, almost maniacally. “The Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago, the Red Menace is gone.” He looked at Brad. “Let’s get the hell out of here and away from these cave dwellers before things get any stranger. I want to get topside and smell the diesel fumes and see the dull sunshine. I think this is all a bad dream.” They both began to back towards the door. “I’m with you, bud,” said Brad. “Let’s get out and up.” They turned began to jog back up the sloping hallway. Mill shouted after them. “Hey, you just can’t leave us here!” “Watch us!” Burke shouted back.

Mill ran after them, and the others followed. They could see the pair’s flashlights going up the corridor, and then stop. Mill and the others stood behind Brad and Burke, who pointed their flashlights towards a doorway completely filled from top to bottom with concrete rubble. Burke leaned up against one wall and slowly slid down, still shining his light on the debris. He began to moan and sob. “We just came down the staircase,” he said. “We just came down it.” Brad leaned forward and shined his flashlight in every crevice. “This is impossible, it’s completely filled. How could this have happened in just five minutes?” Billy stepped forward. “It looks like the way it always did,” he said. “I thought you had it all cleared it out,” said Mill. Brad screamed at them. “There was nothing to clear out because it was never anything there in the first place! World War III never happened and the Empire State building was still there and everybody was fine and world was fine and we were fine…” He trailed off. Carol kneeled down beside Burke. “Grandpa said that what happened was such a crime against the universe that he wouldn’t be surprised if realityitself was somehow wounded,” she said. “If where you came from never saw New York City attacked, never


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Tunnel

by Hugo Teixeiras

saw the atomic war, then that was real. But we know what happened to us was also real.” Stan leaned up against the wall. “You know, if a bomb did come right down on us, maybe it did scramble the universe. I remember grandpa talking that way.” “I was only 12 when I was taken down here,” said Billy. “Mr. Rabinowitz thought I was a smart kid and would be a help. I used to read a lot of pulp magazines and science fiction, and I remember there were stories about alternate universes and crisscrossed realities. I think that’s what happened here.” Brad leaned again the opposite wall from Burke, glassy-eyed, but he stayed on his feet. Billy stepped forward and put his hand on Brad’s shoulder. “If you two managed to slip between alternate worlds, maybe someone else will do the same again,” he said. “Maybe someday, the staircase will open for us, and we’ll walk outside on our own.” Burke still sobbed. Carol took a hand. “It’s not so bad, we’ve endured for all these years. Come back with us.” As they others turned to walk back down the corridor, she helped Burke to his feet. Brad looked at Billy. “Can you bring me a chair? I want to sit here and stare at this doorway.” “Sure.” In a few minutes, Billy and Mill returned with a sturdy wooden armchair and a folding table. Brad sat down and put the flashlight on the table. He rested his head on his fist and stared at the blocked doorway. Billy and Mill returned to the shelter. Rose met them at the door. “What is he doing?” “Just waiting, I suppose,” said Mill. “Aren’t we all,” said Nancy. Brad sat in the chair and stared at the blocked doorway as the flashlight dimmed and finally died. And then he stared in the dark.


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And You Told me Again, You Prefer Handsome Men by Garrett Cook Four am again and look at you. Dallying downtown drunker than drunker than drunker than… drunker than that. Drunk enough. You can’t go home yet. You could take another bus. Two blocks down there’s a different one. You could get on the subway. You could get on the subway and there’s no chance of it. Calm down. There’s no chance of it, okay? There’s no fucking chance. But the bar has closed. And you are sitting there about to make a really nice lady call the cops on you. She’s a really nice lady. She was good to you all night. She listened. Even when you stopped making sense. And you didn’t tip her that well and you were staring down her shirt and you were just you were... Have some damn self respect. Gotta get up off that barstool. I know it hurts. Your joints are aching, your bones feel fragile. But you gotta get up off that barstool and you gotta prove that it’s not going to happen. It won’t happen again. Just find another bus or take the subway. The subway station isn’t far. Get on the subway. Yeah. You’re drunk and you’re aching but if you get on the subway, there’s no chance it will happen. Yes, those kids are staring. Of course they’re staring. I know it hurts worse cause you’re drunk, like they’re looking at you louder, like the unspoken laughter is coming out through a phantom megaphone. Stay cool. Just get on the subway and it won’t be long. Like the Beatles song. Won’t be long now. See? These people are nice. You got a seat to yourself. Heh. Yeah. Have a fucking sense of humor. Would it kill you to have a sense of humor? You suck sometimes. No, you suck all the time. You…look, I’m sorry. It’s just sometimes, you know…I know you do your best. I don’t want you to panic. Let’s not panic. But yes, she just got on. On the subway. The shoes and black nylons. And that coat, blue, like a Jehovah’s Witness would wear. But the black silk chemise is not the black silk chemise of a Jehovah’s Witness. And her hair is platinum like it always is and her eyeshadow is green and somehow it’s fucking working. Maybe she won’t…of course she’s going to

notice. Come on, man, let’s just be realistic. “Hey, what’s with the burlap sack? You The Elephant Man?” You could just not... “Yes, miss. Though I prefer to be called Joseph.” Hard for her to miss The Elephant Man. “Would you like to get a hotel room with me?” You don’t have to tell her yes. You don’t have to do this. Or maybe it will go different this time. You don’t have to panic. It could go better. At least she doesn’t remember last night or the night before. There’s that. Focus on that. It’s a new night. Maybe a new hotel. You couldn’t possibly end up at the same hotel. So, it’s the same hotel. This doesn’t mean it will wind up the same. The clerk looks familiar though. Yes, it’s the same Japanese girl with the pink hair. “Hey! You’re the Elephant Man!” And still you’re blushing underneath the sack. Have a fucking sense of humor. “Yes. Joseph Merrick, at your service, Miss.” Yeah. It is kinda weird that she has a copy of that DVD at the desk of a hotel. “Autograph?” Humor her. You want to get upstairs. The same sparse room. The same disheveled red blankets with black zig zags on them. And the same blonde on the bed taking off the same black chemise to reveal the same cute but pyramidal big nippled b cup tits that you wish you could suck through your sack. And she pulls you into her mouth for what feels like the same blowjob. Her tongue is wet and thorough, her soft moaning vibrating up and down your cock. Just enjoy this. Just enjoy it. Just enjoy her mouth on you. Just enjoy how she doesn’t mind your bumpy rough hand on the back of her head. Her hair is one of the few things it doesn’t hurt to touch. So focus on that. The world is warm and wet and it kind of loves you, Joseph Merrick. Maybe it’s not so bad being The Elephant Man, huh? You don’t need to drink so much or cry so much or bother that poor bartender so much and... aah. Yeah. The blowjob. The world is warm and wet and it kind of loves you,


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 121 and your bones and your body and she’s squeezing squeezing hungry happy satisfied squeezing... “Please,” she pants, “I gotta...” For thirty seconds, you’ve been a rapist before it sets in and you’re out and breathing hard and your bones are wooden and heavy. And your cock withers down and sleeps tight. It’s not gonna happen this time. It’s not gonna happen this time. No. The lips of her pussy are quivering and there’s that sound. She’s got the look on her face. The really ashamed one. It’s not gonna happen this time. She’s not going to scream about how it was supposed to be perfect. About how it was going to be perfect and you’ve ruined it. She’s going to scream about how it was supposed to be perfect. She’s not going to cry. She’s going to cry. She’s not going to pull the devil mask out of the drawer. It’s looking at you with

sacred, her womanhood thirsty as her mouth and eager to get what’s in you. Your shudders are coming up and down and in and out of her and you ain’t the elephant man. She loosens again and gives you room to grow back. It always surprises you that you’re ready again cause you never you never even thought you’d get there in the first place. But you’re in there and this world loves you. The planet Earth loves the Elephant Man and you don’t even know this woman’s name and if she does but it doesn’t fucking matter because life loves you. And you spill again and you spill again and you grow again. She is dripping down her legs

that big, bulbous nose and vacant smile and nothing you say’s gonna reach her now. And she’s gonna get on her clothes and get on the raincoat and walk out again… maybe tomorrow night. It’s not going to happen again. 5 am again and look at you. The fucking Elephant Man.

by Paulo Brito

Joseph Merrick. And even though it hurts and aches your bones when you roll her over, when she pulls down her panties it’s all potential. It’s all potential, Joseph Merrick. And in spite of your flesh and bone and your fear and your isolation and the booze’s conspiracy against your manhood, your cock is hard. And you’re ready and the world is warm and wet and it kind of…it loves you. You can wrestle the pain in your joints and your bumpy skin and your awkward, heavy bones and you can enjoy it. The world is warm and wet and loves you. Her rhythm is slow and considerate. She knows you’re in pain and she cares. You know that, right? She’s considerate til she’s not, and goddammit, don’t blame her, enjoy her. She’s squeezing you tight inside and out and she’s spasm and holding you


122 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Being a Werewolf Bites the Big One by Mark Terence Chapman Here is another of the many replies to the letter of August 25, from self-professed zombie Carl Lofton. [Editors.]

September 2, 2014 Letter to the Editor, New York Times (submitted as an audio file): Yo, dude, you rock! You were right on with your comments about discrimination against zombies. It’s downright disgraceful how people treat you folks. That vampire dude made some good points, too, although I could’ve done without the antiwerewolf bigotry. And that brings up my reason for writing. Werewolves seem to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the undead. Everyone looks down on us, including the vampires, zombies, leprechauns, and even the golems, for pete’s sake! We’re called everything from fur-face to dog-boy to car-chaser. People either run screaming from us or they want to scratch our bellies and say “Good boy!” And fleas? Don’t even get me started. Human women suffer through their monthly “curse.” Ha! They have no idea what a curse is. Every month a werewolf’s body is hijacked by the full moon. We lose all sense of reason and revert to savagery. That doesn’t exactly endear us to the neighbors. Between the all-night howling and us digging up their flower beds, they’re plenty POed. If that’s not bad enough, werebitches (the proper term for our females) suffer through both curses each month. You have no idea what savage is until you tick off a werebitch with PMS. Take my mate, for instance. She makes an addict high on Angel Dust seem like Tinkerbell. (No offense, Tink!) Why, just yesterday—. AaarrrOOOOOOOOO! [Lengthy pause omitted. Ed.] Sorry about that. Damn full moon. Hang on while I close the curtains. [Pause.] That’s better. I hope you can understand me. It’s tough talking around a mouthful of canines. But it’s simply impossible to type with paws. Look, I’m not the type to complain. I can put

up with all the discomforts of daily life, but would someone please put a leash on those van Helsing wannabes and their silver bullets? I’m sick of patching holes in my living room walls, and the gunfire upsets the pups. Besides, the graveyard out back is filling up fast. And have you ever tried to get blood out of a fur coat? It’s a real pain in the hindquarters. Speaking of fur coats, ever try wearing one in Miami in the summer? It gets pretty damn hot down here even without a fur coat on. Shaving doesn’t do any good—the fur grows back too quickly. (Besides, razor blades cost a fortune and electric razors clog. It sure would make my life easier if someone sold an industrial-strength depilatory in gallon jugs.) I made the mistake — once — of trying a full-body bikini wax. Ouch! If it wasn’t bad enough that I was pink everywhere for two days afterwards (a pink werewolf!), I itched all over for the next three days as the fur grew back in. The way I was scratching, I must have looked like the poster child for flea dip. I know my kind has a rep as blood-thirsty monsters, but like you we’re parents and children, brothers and sisters. Other than the few nights a month when we go on murderous rampages, slaughtering everyone in sight, we’re ordinary, lawabiding citizens. Can’t we just be friends?

Sincerely, Martin “Scruffy” Wolfe The Everglades South Florida


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“Fiction was invented the day Jonas arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed

by a whale.

~ Gabriel García Márquez ~


124 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

The Young Generation by Victor Davidson poem submitted by his grandson Phil

THE PAST Children playing on the green With hoop and bat and ball Oh, such happiness is seen No evil can befall! Carts are drawn by horses tall Walking vendors call their wares: “Chestnuts!” “Muffins!” “Cat’s meat!” “Coal!” And trams charge penny fares! THE PRESENT Now change has come across the land! Cars and lorries drive so fast! The air is filled with acrid fumes The noise and clatter vast! Children sit at home and glare At videos and telly sets You cross the roads at your peril While at home your parent frets! Office workers gaze at VDU’s Tapping at word processors The days of easy work are past It’s now all stress and pressures! THE FUTURE Oh, the poor next generation Their future is very bleak. Though they’ll ride about in cars As elusive happiness they seek. They’ll have ruined the Ozone layer And netted all the fish But will be genetically perfect And eat many a genetically-controlled dish. Oh! The poor next generation Fed on sex and drugs and crime. They will lose their innocence early And a vision of a world sublime!


Stanisław Lem in 1966, courtesy of his secretary, Wojciech Zemek

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"Ouch! Ouch!! Why are you beating me?!" yelled Trurl, cowering. "It gives me pleasure," explained Klapaucius, swinging back. "You should try it sometime, Trurl!" ~ The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem ~


126 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

What Is Magical Realism, Really? by Bruce Holland Rogers

"Magical realism" has become a debased term. When it first came into use to describe the work of certain Latin American writers, and then a small number of writers from many places in the world, it had a specific meaning that made it useful for critics. If someone made a list of recent magical realist works, there were certain characteristics that works on the list would share. The term also pointed to a particular array of techniques that writers could put to specialized use. Now the words have been applied so haphazardly that to call a work "magical realism" doesn't convey a very clear sense of what the work will be like. If a magazine editor these days asks for contributions that are magical realism, what she's really saying is that she wants contemporary fantasy written to a high literary standard---fantasy that readers who "don't read escapist literature" will happily read. It's a marketing label and an attempt to carve out a part of the prestige readership for speculative works. I don't object to using labels to make readers more comfortable, to draw them to work that they might otherwise unfairly dismiss. But by over-using the term, we've obscured a distinctive branch of literature. More importantly from my perspective, we've made it harder for new writers to discover the tools of magical realism as a distinct set allowing them to create work that portrays particular ways of looking at the world. If writers read a hundred works labeled "magical realism," they will encounter such a hodgepodge that they may not recognize the minority of such works that are doing something different, something those writers may want to try themselves. So what is magical realism? It is, first of all, a branch of serious fiction, which is to say, it is not escapist. Let me be clear: I like escapist fiction, and some of what I write is escapism. I'm with C.S. Lewis when he observes that the only person who opposes escape is, by definition, a jailer.

Entertainment, release, fun...these are all good reasons to read and to write. But serious fiction's task is not escape, but engagement. Serious fiction helps us to name our world and see our place in it. It conveys or explores truth. Any genre of fiction can get at truths, of course. Some science fiction and fantasy do so, and are serious fiction. Some SF and fantasy are escapist. But magical realism is always serious, never escapist, because it is trying to convey the reality of one or several worldviews that actually exist, or have existed. Magical realism is a kind of realism, but one different from the realism that most of our culture now experiences. Science fiction and fantasy are always speculative. They are always positing that some aspect of objective reality were different. What if vampires were real? What if we could travel faster than light? Magical realism is not speculative and does not conduct thought experiments. Instead, it tells its stories from the perspective of people who live in our world and experience a different reality from the one we call objective. If there is a ghost in a story of magical realism, the ghost is not a fantasy element but a manifestation of the reality of people who believe in and have "real" experiences of ghosts. Magical realist fiction depicts the real world of people whose reality is different from ours. It's not a thought experiment. It's not speculation. Magical realism endeavors to show us the world through other eyes. When it works, as I think it does very well in, say, Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Ceremony, some readers will inhabit this other reality so thoroughly that the "unreal" elements of the story, such as witches, will seem frighteningly real long after the book is finished. A fantasy about southwestern Indian witches allows you to put down the book with perhaps a little shiver but reassurance that what you just read is made up. Magical realism leaves you with the understanding that this world of witches is one that people really live in and the feeling that maybe this view is correct.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 127 It's possible to read magical realism as fantasy, just as it's possible to dismiss people who believe in witches as primitives or fools. But the literature at its best invites the reader to compassionately experience the world as many of our fellow human beings see it. There are three main effects by which magical realism conveys this different world-view, and those effects relate to the ways in which this world-view is different from the "objective" (empirical, positivist) view. In these other realities, time is not linear, causality is subjective, and the magical and the ordinary are one and the same.

by Sebasti達o Peixoto

Consider the structure of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. As readers sense from the first first page which begins with a firing squad and then a very, very long flashback, time does not always march forward in the magical realist world view. The distant past is present in every moment, and the future has already happened. Great shifts in the narrative's time sequence reflect a

reality that is almost outside of time. This accounts for ghosts, for premonitions, and the feeling that time is a great repetition rather than a progression. In Garcia Marquez's novel, certain events keep returning in the present focus, even as time does gradually wind through generations. As for causality, the objective view tells us that one person's emotion can't kill someone else. We believe this so strongly that a world view in which emotion can kill won't convince us---we'll write it off as fantasy. So magical realist works put causally connected events side by side in a way that doesn't appear to violate objective reality, but attempts to convince us by details that the events described are linked by more than chance. In Ceremony, for example, there is a scene in which a spurned woman is dancing very angrily. Miles away, the man who betrayed her is checking the commotion his cattle are making in the night. Descriptions of the woman's heels stamping the floor are alternated with descriptions of the cattle trampling the man to death, back and forth from one to the other. No assertion of causality is made, but the dancer's heels and the animals' hooves become linked so powerfully that the reader doesn't just "get it." What's conveyed is not a symbol or a metaphor, but the reality that a woman can be so angry that when she she dances, her lover dies. The third effect is my favorite. If your view of the world includes miracles and angels, beastmen and women of unearthly beauty, gods walking among us and ceremonies that can end a drought, then all of these things are as ordinary to you as automobiles, desert streams, and ice in the tropics. At the same time, the whole world is enchanted, mysterious. Automobiles, desert streams, and ice are all as astonishing as angels. To convey this, magical realist writers write the ordinary as miraculous and the miraculous as


128 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014 ordinary. The ice that gypsies bring to the tropical village of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude is described with awe. How can such a substance exist? It is so awesomely beautiful that characters find it difficult to account for or describe. But it's not just novelties such as a first encounter with ice that merit such description. The natural world comes in for similar attention. The behavior of ants or the atmosphere of a streamside oasis are described in details that match objective experience, but which remind us that the world is surprising and seemingly full of design and purpose.

While I don't expect the words "magical realism" to revert to their specialized use, I hope that writers won't lose sight of the special literature those words once pointed to exclusively. Magical realism is fascinating to read, and I hope to see more writers exploring its possibilities and conveying to "mainstream" readers ways of thinking that can help all of us to somewhat re-enchant the world.

The miraculous, on the other hand, is described with a precision that fits it into the ordinariness of daily life. When one of the characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude is shot in the head, the blood from his body flows out into the street in a path that takes it all the way to the feet of the character's grandmother---a miracle. But along the way, the path of the blood is described in great detail, and the miraculous journey is rooted in the day-today activities of the village and the grandmother's household. An even better example is the character who is so beautiful that she is followed everywhere by a cloud of butterflies. This extraordinary trait is brought to earth somewhat by the observation that all of the butterflies have tattered wings. The miraculous, looked at closely, is mundane. I've written this essay from memory, without consulting the novels to which I allude. I may have a detail or two wrong. My point remains valid: Magical realism is a distinctive form of fiction that aims to produce the experience of a non-objective world view. Its techniques are particular to that world view, and while they may at first look something like the techniques of sophisticated fantasy, magical realism is trying to do more than play with reality's rules. It is conveying realities that other people really do experience, or once experienced. As a tool, magical realism can be used to explore the realities of characters or communities who are outside of the objective mainstream of our culture. It's not just South Americans, Indians, or African slaves who may offer these alternative views. Religious believers for whom the numinous is always present and miracles are right around the corner, believers to whom angels really do appear and to whom God reveals Himself directly, they too inhabit a magical realist reality.

This article Speculations

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Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 129

My Grandad by Phil Newman My Grandad Victor Davidson Of a kind, he was but one The times spent in his company Were always so much fun.

He loved his books and poetry, His drama and his art He found a joy in everything Always a child at heart.

Boredom was an unknown word When Grandad was around His box-room full of odds-and-sods An Aladdin’s Cave in Moordown!

A warm and steady influence A measured guiding hand An inspiration, that was him None finer in the land.

The jokes, the games, the magic tricks The corkscrews, coins and pens, The clockwork wooden music box Enthralled for hours on end.

My Grandad loved so many things None more than family It was for him “a privilege to be so blessed”, said he.

The Redhill Common “Prickly Walk” Was a favourite Sunday treat As through the thorns and brambles We’d march and stomp our feet!

His children, grand and great-grand all Adored him in return For far-off days with him around Are times we often yearn.

I electric-shave - that’s down to him, Standing at the back-room mirror And thanks to him, I came to know The delights of Chocolate Ginger!

It’s 16 years now since he passed But still his light shines bright That his poems here are featured Would he, I’m sure, delight.


“As far as I am concerned there can only ever be two

characters in a work of fiction - the author and the reader. The other “characters” are just words on a page and simply

don’t exist.

~ Rhys Hughes ~


“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.� ~ Oscar Wilde ~

Lord of Darkness

by Zeeksie (http://zeeksie.deviantart.com)


132 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Willing to Pass Through by A. Paul Estabrook

Willing to pass through once more, hurt the night before I was near the wall that was a door and I could see my own shape, or, so far as I knew, the casket foretold to the bones I felt them move about and this I know: If it matters to the living take your muse a little beyond where touch is ready for the light. Love as though the Spirit is not asking permission then feel stronger instantly Stronger. Go and then effect punctuation. Heal us. Is he on the case? Don't you see the letters?


THE IRONIC

Magazine Absurdist Lover Since 2013

Editor Notes Paulo Brito Barcelos, Portugal

Cold Teddy

by Chris Harrendence

Cold Teddy a tale by Rhys Hughes A teddy bear was thrown into the sea. It drifted north until it reached the Arctic Ocean. Then the waters froze and it found itself trapped on pack ice near the island of Spitsbergen. There are such things as Polar Bears, of course, but the teddy wasn't one of those, so it didn't feel comfortable in this environment. Indeed, it was so upset and lonely that it began to cry and one by one the big tears landed on the ice and froze rapidly. These tears made a shape as they accumulated. “A wolf! It's a wolf!” cried the teddy. A passing walrus said, “Why should I be scared of that? For one thing, I don't believe you. You are a liar.” The teddy was shocked. “Why do you say that?” “Because you're the toy that cried wolf,” said the walrus. The teddy scratched its head. “But doesn't that generate a paradox? If you don't believe that I made a wolf with my frozen tears because I'm the toy that cried wolf, then you don't believe what you've already decided to accept as the truth. You're using the fact that something exists to disprove that same something. That's a bit odd.” But the walrus reacted with rage to this observation. “Don't ruin my pun, you meanie!” To ruin the pun of a walrus is no easy tusk, I mean task.

First things first. This edition of The Ironic Fantastic was only possible thanks to the amazing Rhys Hughes - the only writer who truly made a difference in my life. David Soares is the other writer that made me belive in the magical world of words. My forever gratitude to Jason E. Rolfe and Fiona Duffin, without whose motivation and assistance I would not have considered making this number. Special acknowledgements go to Júlia Carvalhal, Mercie Silva, Sandra Rodrigues and Sérgio Araújo, for the help given in the translations of my texts. I want to thank all writers, illustrators, photographers who still believe in this project and have the courage to submit material. It wasn't an easy task for me to edit a magazine as a homage to Rhys Hughes. I know that editing an ebook is an easy task to do, but I wanted to take the project to another level. This number #3 is so my project. A very daring project. I hope, however, that the outcome will be positive. I am conscious that I have given my best; but maybe my best is not enough. You will be the judge of that. Maybe some of the works are not about the fantastic, but I am sure all are FANTASTIC! It isn't a perfect issue, it is an ironic one. The number #4 will be at the hands of the allmighty Jason E. Rolfe... carpe diem


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About You and I

101 things you’ve always wanted to know about them but you’re afraid to ask... They are all members of the Order of the Toucan.

Chris Harrendence

"Harrendence is an artist of genius who is able to produce extremely high quality illustrations within an amazingly short time. Harrendence is prone to rendering the scene or situation in a way that is superior to the original conception. The word is an allusion to Chris Harrendence, an artist of genius who is able to produce extremely high quality illustrations within an amazingly short time. His work often resembles an original hybrid between that of Edward Gorey, Gary Larson and Jože Tisnikar." - by Rhys Hughes

Diogo Carvalho

Diogo Carvalho was born in 1979 in Salreu, Estarreja. He spent his childhood in Pardilhó watching series of cartoons and reading comics written in Brazilian who sought to emulate in their drawings. Since the school is part of the world of Portuguese Comics with many studies in this field. He is a Teacher of EVT and has performed work in the areas of multimedia, tv, film, theater and illustration. He lives with his wife between the Ria de Aveiro and the sea in the village of Torreira. He just finish his book Obscurum Nocturnus.

Kseniya Gomzjakova

"A beautiful, blond, Russian lovely from Latvia. A lady full of boundless energy, never ending smiles, great presence in front of the camera and who can pose so wonderfully without thinking about it. I have worked three times with this great model and will be again in a weeks time doing something neither of us has done before. See latest shoot below at Stradey Park Hotel. Our first shoot also had something new to it and that was a collaboration with the delightful Lorraine Taylor of Cheeky Potatoes Face & Body Painting." - from eyeLINEphotography

photo by Dexter Photography


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Carlos Rocha

Born in Angola in 1974, but naturalized as Portuguese. In Olhão he settled, and around the age of fifteen he made his first comics, initially just for pure entertainment, and since then has never stopped. Has exhibited individually and collectively, and worked in regional newspapers and fanzines. The album "Vamos Aprender", in partnership with the writer Aida Teixeira and edited by Kingpin in 2013 was his first book published.

Susana Leite

She was born in 1972 in Braga. She teaches Visual Education, Technology Education and she has a Master's degree in illustration. She has published articles on Arts Education and Illustration. Since childhood she is passionate about children's illustration, this fact, led her to enroll in the Master of illustration in order to refine their techniques. She develops works for children's illustration, where she recourse to use of mixed media and diverse materials. She held illustration workshops, with institutions for children and youth.

César Figueiredo

Figueiredo began to study professional design and throve in illustration in late 90s. Later in 2002, he obtained a bachelor's degree in Painting and a second degree in Art and Communication. In addiction, in 2010, Figueiredo received a Master's degree in illustration from the Superior Arts School of Porto (Escola Superior Artística do Porto - Guimarães). His work as an illustrator spans a wide range of subjects from archaeological to editorial techniques.

Gisela Monteiro

Gisela Monteiro specialises in funerary art and history of death in the western world, writing and photographing about those subjects for the last ten years. She maintains a weblog, titled Mort Safe (taphophilia.blogspot.com), the weblog's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MortSafe) and she organizes guided tours in Lisbon's cemiteries. Her credits as a published photographer include participations in the artwork of La Chanson Noire's second album («Cabaret Portugal», 2012).

Adele Whittle

I'm a painter and jewellery maker. Most of my art is inspired by nature and the imagination. I paint seascapes, sea scenes, trees (especially ancient or gnarled trees), wildlife, birds, abstract and fantasy. I love to paint miniature paintings on pebbles, rocks, slate and marble. I love to experiment with texture and colour. I also make jewellery with sea glass, sea pottery and hemp. For many of my jewellery designs I use the ancient technique of wire wrapping. The oldest examples of wire wrapped jewellery date back to before 2000 BC.


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Win Leerasanthanah

I was born in Bangkok, Thailand. And I've been drawing ever since I laid my hands on the pencil. In high school, I've worked on illustration on a book of Thai proverbs, called "Thai Folk Wisdom" (1) with a piece called "Lovers and Divorced in Pots." (2) I graduated in architectural studies in University of Washington, and I am now working on my master's in Animation at Savannah College of Art and Design. I worked on comics as my hobby, and I've always been fascinated with reading alternative and surreal comics. I upload my illustrations and drawings at my DeviantArt site. (3) (1) amazon.com/Thai-Folk-Wisdom-Contemporary-Traditional/dp/974986378X (2) azawindam.deviantart.com/art/Lovers-and-Divorced-in-Pots-131418364 (3) azawindam.deviantart.com

Anatoly Belilovsky

The author is a Russian-American author and translator of speculative fiction. His work appeared in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology, Ideomancer, Nature Futures, Stupefying Stories, Immersion Book of Steampunk, Daily SF, Kasma, Kazka, and has been podcast by Cast of Wonders, Tales of Old, Toasted Cake and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He blogs about writing at loldoc.net, pediatrics at belilovsky.com, and his medical practice web site is babydr.us. Anatoly Belilovsky was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later (see wikipedia, Jackson-Vanik amendment), he learned English from Star Trek reruns and went on to become a paediatrician in an area of New York where English is only the fourth most commonly used language. He has neither cats nor dogs, but was admitted into SFWA in spite of this deficiency. His nonfiction work which includes articles and interviews on asthma, swine flu, autism and immunizations, and other pediatric concerns, is available at loldoc.com.

Rhys Hughes

A writer of Fantasy and Magic Realism who often uses comedy and absurdism to examine philosophical issues. Known for his original ideas, intricate plots and entertaining wordplay. He is one of the most prolific and successful authors in Wales, although his work has rarely been available in his own country. His earliest publications were chess problems and mathematical puzzles for newspapers. His first short story was published in 1992 and since then he has embarked on a project that involves writing exactly one thousand linked 'items' of fiction, including novels, to form a gigantic story cycle. Many of these individual items have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. His books include Worming the Harpy, Nowhere Near Milk Wood, Journeys Beyond Advice, The Postmodern Mariner and The Less Lonely Planet. His work is currently being translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian and Greek.


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João Matos

João Matos was born in 1967 in Barcelos, Portugal.

Garrett Cook

I'm Garrett Cook and I'm an author of Bizarro fiction and the winner of the First Annual Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. I have four exciting Bizarro pulp novellas in print. Check out my books, my paintings, my music and my stories. I also do freelance editing and manuscript critiques.

Allen Ashley

One of the most distinctive voices in modern literature, Allen Ashley has been published in dozens of books and magazines in the UK, USA, Canada and Spain and has now passed his first century of short story publications. Allen is a highly respected author equally adept at novels, short stories, poetry and lyrics. He is also well known for a wealth of critical commentary and non-fiction articles and, more recently, as an acclaimed and award winning editor. His debut story “Dead to the World” (1982) has been reprinted on six different occasions, including a translation into Spanish. His first novel was the highly acclaimed “The Planet Suite” (TTA Press, 1997), described by Brian w. Aldiss as “The course for the future.”

Robert Peake

Robert Peake is an American poet living in England. His newest short collection is The Silence Teacher from Poetry Salzburg and his full-length collection The Knowledge is due in early 2015 from Nine Arches Press. He founded the Transatlantic Poetry on Air online reading series, and writes about poetry and culture on Huffington Post and on robertpeake.com

Tantra Bensko

Tantra Bensko teaches fiction writing with UCLA X Writing Program and elsewhere, including her own academy, featuring Interstitial Fiction Genres: New Wave Fabulism, Magical Realism, Slipstream, Surrealism, and Weird. She has a couple hundred narratives in journals and anthologies. Surreally, she is fabled to be magically slipping into the weirdness of Berkeley, California.


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Paulo Brito

He lives in Barcelos, Portugal. He writes since the age of 15 poetry and short stories as a matter of mental hygiene. Loves reading Rhys Hughes and David Soares. His influences are immense, because he was has always been a drinker of books. His work appeared in the newspaper Barcelos Popular, The Ironic Fantastic, Sein und Werden, miNatura, Black Scat Books and The Were Traveler.

Andrew Coulthard

My name is Andrew Coulthard and I live in Stockholm, Sweden. I write weird fiction, slipstream, dark fantasy, horror and scifi. I've been published by Eibonvale, The Alchemy Press, Trevor Denyer's Hellfire Crossroads, Oneiros Books, MorbidbookS and Affront Förlag.

Fiona Duffin

Born in Australia, Fiona has lived in Africa and the Far East, returning to the UK in 1985, where she trained in both design and marketing communications. Currently working as a London-based freelancer, she writes prose poetry and sketches cartoons and line drawing illustrations of people and animals in her spare time. The poems she has shared in this collection are inspired by the memories of a Sri Lankan dog and the recent passing of her beloved father, as well as her interest in live music and support for the Ealing Club, a local venue where the “British Rhythm and Blues Boom” of the 1960s kicked off and performers such as the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann and the Who “cut their teeth”.

L.t. O'Rourke

L.t. O'Rourke is a writer, poet and artist. She is a member of the Australian Writers’ Guild and the Australian Crime Writers Association. Her current projects include a thriller novel and a compilation of poetry and artwork.

Marie Lecrivain

Marie Lecrivain is the edtior-publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a photographer, and a writer-in-residence at her apartment. She's been published in various journals, including Non-Binary Review, Edgar Allan Poetry Journal, and Poetry Salzburg Review. Her newest book, The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre (copyright 2014 Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House), a series of alchemical poems, is avaialble through Amazon.com


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Dr. Lois Parkinson Zamora

Professor of comparative literature and art history at the University of Houston. Zamora is a leader in the comparative study of literature of the Americas. Zamora’s area of expertise is literature of the Americas on New World Baroque art, architecture and literature, which is showcased in her book, “The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction.”

Mat Joiner

Mat Joiner is a writer and poet based in Birmingham, England, and his work has appeared in Not One Of Us, Sein Und Werden, and Strange Horizons. He haunts canals and second-hand bookshops, and enjoys real ale, flippancy, and photosynthesis.

Jason E. Rolfe

Jason E. Rolfe is a figment of Norman Conquest’s imagination. Norman Conquest refuses to admit this. In fact, should you ask him personally he will likely say, “I refuse to admit this” or “Jason E. Rolfe is a figment of his own imagination” or perhaps “Jason E. Rolfe is a stunningly brilliant Absurdist writer whose work will, to my good fortune and ours, be appearing soon in The Black Scat Review. If you can’t wait for the forthcoming ‘nonsense’ issue of The Black Scat Review you can find recent examples of Jason’s work in Pure Slush, Flash Gumbo, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Cease Cows, miNatura, Sein und Werden, The Ironic Fantastic, and The Lovecraft eZine. Jason is also hard at work on a small collection of ‘incidents’ from which his story “Prozac” is drawn.

Carla Rodrigues

Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art I'm a self-taught Portugal-based illustrator, with a passion for drawing. I love drawing, reading and watching movies, among other (geeky) things. carlarodriguesart.tumblr.com cool-slayer.deviantart.com

Isabel Talsma

Isabel has been cutting paper of all sorts since the summer of 2011, creating a variety of paper pieces based on the traditional techniques of scherenschnitte and silhouettes. Her work ranges from original paper sculptures, to paper illustrations, hand-cut silhouettes of iconic characters, and other paper crafts. isabeltalsma.com | italsma.tumblr.com


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Larry Nolen

Larry Nolen is a history, ESL, and English teacher who has taught for most of the past fifteen years in Tennessee and Florida, in both public and private school settings. Fascinated with languages from an early age, he devotes much of his spare time to reading and translating interviews and articles from Spanish and Portuguese into English, with his first published translation, of Leopoldo Lugones' "El escuerzo" appearing in October 2011 in the anthology ODD? and his second, Augusto Monterroso's "Mister Taylor," in November 2011 in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Fictions. ofblog.blogspot.com

Sissy Pantelis

Sissy Pantelis is a fantasy writer; she writes prose and comics. Has worked as a coeditor in French SF magazine GALAXIES. Various articles and interviews by her were published in English and French. Has often collaborated with Hugo awarded online fanzine Mind Meld- SF Signal. Her short stories have been published in French, Greek, Spanish and English in various magazines and anthologies. Short graphic stories written by her were published in British and American comic anthologies. Her published comics include Locked Out ( by American publisher DBC) and two issues of popular South American EURI series( issue #1: REVELATION and issue #2 HAGALAZ) co-written with Hernando Diaz, creator of the series. She is currently working on a few graphic novels(in diverse styles and with various artists) BLUE SPARKLES (art by French artist VURORE aka Aurore Barois) will come out by British comic publisher MARKOSIA in 2015.

Caleb Wilson

Caleb Wilson's fiction has appeared in places like Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Weird Tales, Sein und Werden, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He and his wife live in Illinois. His alter-ego works in a public library.

A. Paul Estabrook

My name is A. Paul Estabrook and I’m a Korean-American artist based in Seoul. I am also the author of the burned poetry book, A Good Man is Dead: A Series of Purloined Letters. I studied photography at the Virginia Intermont College and received my MFA in Studio Arts from James Madison University. My next project will be of photographic means exploring the spectacle of modern Korean culture. You can further explore my work at www.arguspaul.com


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David Soares

David Soares is a portuguese writer known for his meticulously researched and complex novels that deal with historical and occult themes. The Portuguese literary magazine "My Books" defined him as «the most important Portuguese writer of fantastic literature». He wrote four novels, four books of short stories, eight comic books (one published in France), a children's book and two books of essays. He received three trophies for "Best Writer" for his comic books. His most recent book is titled "Applause to the Squirrel" (Kingpin Books, 2013). -

Bibliography:

Novels:

"Battle" (Saída de Emergência, 2011); "The Gospel of the Hanged" (Saída de Emergência, 2010); "Lisbon Triumphant" (Saída de Emergência, 2008); "Conspiracy of the Ancestors" (Saída de Emergência, 2007)

Short-stories:

"The Miserable Light» (Saída de Emergência, 2010); "The Bones of the Rainbow" (Saída de Emergência, 2006); "The Fantastic Dark" (Edições Polvo, 2005); "Show me Your Spine" (Círculo de Abuso, 2001)

Comics:

"Applause to the Squirrel" (Kingpin Books, 2013); "Little Blind God" (Kingpin Books, 2011); "Only at Night I Ask Questions" (Saída de Emergência, 2011); "Mucha" (Kingpin Books, 2009); "The Last Great Movie Theatre" (Círculo de Abuso, 2003); "Sammahel" (Círculo de Abuso, 2001); "Mr. Burroughs" (Círculo de Abuso, 2000); "City-Grave" (Círculo de Abuso, 2000); "Horror Fiction" (author edition, 1999); "Ordinary People" (author edition, 1999); "Feeding on the Weak" (author edition, 1999)

Non-Fiction:

"Compendium of Dark Secrets and Chilling Facts" (Saída de Emergência, 2012); "About Comics" (Círculo de Abuso, 2004)

Spoken Word:

"The Freaks: Necropsy of a Lisbon Cosmos" (Necrosymphonic Entertainment / Raging Planet, 2012); "Lisbon" (author edition, 2002)

Children's literature:

"The Crow Man" (Saída de Emergência, 2012)


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Łukasz Gać

Bechelor of Architecture. Student of 1st year of Master Degree studies - Architecture and Town Planing at Poznan University of Technology. Passionate of architecture, design and drawing&painting. Tutor & Co-owner of DOMIN Poznan drawing school. Co-worker of MAG Architekci office nauka-rysunku.pl | architekci-poznan.com | facebook.com/lukasz.gac

Hugo Teixeira

My name is Hugo Teixeira I was born in 1980 in Portugal. Been working in illustrations and comics since 2006 as a freelance. I have a few book published in Portugal. I'm a bit experimentalist I like to create things in different styles and medium. htx.deviantart.com

J.B. Martins

He writes regularly at the blog cineblog.blogs.sapo.pt

Esgar Acelerado

Wrestles visual artist, creating illustrations since 1991. Writer of the weekly comic Superfuzz for BLITZ (2001 to 2005), founder of CRU Magazine, cofounder of Artvortex Ink. and mentor of Cais do Rock Festival. Owner of LowFly records and currently Arts teacher.

Art Shows

Cooperativa Árvore, FNAC, Artes em Partes, Maus Hábitos, Carbono, Plastic, Galeria Zé dos Bois, Salão de BD do Porto, Fantasporto, Festival Intercéltico, Festival de Jazz do Porto, Maison des Arts de Laval, Livraria Index, Livraria Arquivo, Biblioteca Municipal da Póvoa de Varzim, Cooperativa Filantrópica e Festival de BD da Amadora.

Published Works

Stripburger, Luke Magazine, LowFly Records, Público, Diário de Notícias, CRU Magazine, Mondo Bizarre, BLITZ, Vozes, Inútil, 365...

Private Colections

Portugal, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Holand, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and France.

Website

http://www.mr-esgar.com


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 143

Irina Istratova

Artist | Professional | Digital Art Irina Istratova is a Russian artist who’s currently living in Kiev, Ukraine. She created the beautiful work by digital art and professional photo manipulation. facebook.com/Istratova | bigbad-red.deviantart.com bigbadred.com

Pedro Lopes

Pedro's odd way of looking into the world has made him into what he's now. Yes! He's an artist. Better yet, a jack of all trades, since he has to survive in Portugal. From an early age, he discovered the pen and then the paper, I know its not rocket science, but not that many people know how to use them to their full extend. And so a passion for drawing/painting started. Having come a long way, Pedro's now a full fledge artist working professionally in the game and movie industry as a concept artist and also doing his comics on the side. More is yet to be told but, the story shall continue at another time.

Ian Towey

Ian Towey ~ English. I’ve previously published non-fiction reviews and articles for Dreamwatch magazine. (1) Jobs; librarian, fork-lift driver, labourer in Canary Wharf, high-level logistics. Factories, warehouses, refuse collector. Many more. Attained a BA (Hons) degree Literature & Philosophy at Middlesex University, North London. Massive reader. Blog of early first-draft stories. (2) (1) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamwatch (2) thestormdodgers.blogspot.co.uk/?zx=472326f8feb00a35

André Kutscherauer | ak3d Awards:

CG Choice Award 1st Place - Animago Award 2006 - Professional Illustration PAGE COVER 3D WORLD COVER EXPOSE 4 Master Award - Whimsical ELEMENTAL 2 Excellence Award 115 Digital Art Gallery Exhibition EXPOSE 5 BackCover ART OF DIGITAL SHOW 2007 - 2nd Place - San Diego / USA

Links:

ak3d.de behance.net/AK3D | facebook.com/AK3D.DE | youtube.com/user/ak3d


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Victor Davidson

My grandfather, Victor Davidson FBOA, was born in Hammersmith, London in September 1908. He married his beloved wife Milly in Bath in 1938, moving to Northampton during the War before finally settling in Bournemouth where they raised my Mum and Uncle. He trained as an Optician and Ophthalmologist, joining his elder brother in the profession, and practised until well into his seventies. Victor was interested in everything from politics to art, philosophy to literature, history to poetry, drama to antiques - and collected such ephemera as fountain pens, coins and corkcrews, sharing his child-like enthusiasm with his family - especially his grand and great-grandchildren - to whom he was devoted. In later years, after Milly's passing, he became an active member of the local University of the Third Age (U3A); he started off as a regular attendee, but was soon running classes in subjects such as Philosophy and the History of Art! He even made the local paper when, in his eighties, he passed A-level Art at the same time and with the same grade as my youngest brother! It was around this time that he started writing poetry, largely for his own amusement; witty, reflective and often laugh-out-loud funny, they spanned, as one might expect, a wide range of themes, topics and styles. Victor passed away in 1998, his 90th year, and is fondly remembered and still very much missed by the whole family. I think he would be thrilled that some of his work has been published in this anthology.

~ Phil Newman, 2014 ~

Phil Newman

Born and raised in Bournemouth, Phil spent almost ten years in Retail Management & Training in the Off-Licence sector before re-training at Croydon College as a Theatre Set & Costume Designer. Now freelance and based in Croydon, his Design credits include: Spring Awakening - The Musical (Chelsea Theatre), The Tempest & Pinocchio (UK & UAE tours for Shakespeare4Kidz), an open-air Romeo & Juliet (Cornucopia Theatre), Voices in the Alleyway & Yes, I Still Exist (Spread Expression Dance), Cinderella (Library Theatre, Luton), The Fiddler (Unicorn Theatre), High Life (Hampstead Theatre), Coming Up for Air (UK tour), The Riddle of the Sands & Laurel and Hardy (Jermyn St Theatre), The Famous Five (Tabard Theatre), Hansel & Gretel (UK tour), Stockholm (BAC), open-air tours of The Merchant of Venice & The Railway Children (Heartbreak),The Playground (Time Out Critics' Choice/Polka Theatre) and the awardwinning UK/international touring production of John Retallack’s Hannah & Hanna (Time Out Critics’ Choice). He also designed Tayo Aluko’s award-winning monodrama Call Mr Robeson (now in its 7th year touring the UK and abroad; see www.callmrrobeson.com for details) and has just completed design work on Rouge28 Theatre’s new puppet show, Kwaidan. Phil has previously been a regular contributor to Marvel Comics/Panini’s Doctor Who Magazine, providing features and interviews with cast and crew of the long-running BBC series, and will be contributing to the next issue of Nothing at the End of the Lane: the Magazine of Doctor Who Research and Restoration.


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Bruce Holland Rogers

Bruce Holland Rogers is the author of several story collections and teaches fiction at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. He also offers his stories by email subscription at shortshortshort.com.

Issue #4 Jason E. Rolfe will be editing the fourth instalment of The Ironic Fantastic. The submission deadline will be September 30. Issue #4 will be a tribute to Lewis Carroll, but all nonsense is welcome. If you're looking for inspiration, you can start here! http://www.lewiscarroll.org/carroll Please send all submissions to theironicfantastic4@gmail.com


146 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Michael Bishop A Literary Geo-Biography by Michael H. Hutchins Michael Bishop was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 12, 1945, to Leo O. Bishop and the former Maxine Elaine Matison. Because his father was in the United States Air Force, he spent his younger years as an “air force brat.” His impressions of a year in Japan starting at age four remained vivid enough for him to contribute scenes drawn from memory to Under Heaven's Bridge, his 1981 collaboration with British writer Ian Watson. On returning to the States, his mother and father divorced. During the school year, Mike lived with his mother in Mulvane, Kansas, south of Wichita. (As Van Luna, this small Kansas town became the setting for the 2000 novella “Blue Kansas Sky.”) However, he spent almost every summer with his father at various bases around the US. In his early teens, Mike came upon the “Classics Illustrated” version of White Fang by Jack London, and this comic book — and others in the series — influenced, he unashamedly admits, his early heartfelt decision to become a writer. Add to that his vicarious travels with Lemuel Gulliver though Lilliput, Brobdingnag, and other lands conceived by Jonathan Swift, and Mike’s journey toward becoming a teller of tales was firmly established. He went to public school from the seventh through the eleventh grades in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but during his senior year, 1962-63, lived in Seville, Spain, with his father and step-mother and attended a school for military dependents just to the south of that Andalusian city. For a fictional account of his experiences abroad read “On the Street of the Serpents” (1974).  Further stories drawing on this background include “Cold War Orphans” (1980), and both his Nebula Award-winning works: “The Quickening” (novelette, 1981) and No Enemy But Time (novel, 1982). During his year in Spain, his mother relocated to South Georgia with Mike’s step-father, Charles Willis, and this influenced his decision to attend the University of Georgia. He received his B.A. in 1967 with Phi Beta Kappa honors, and earned a master's degree in English with a thesis on the poetry of Dylan Thomas (Dylan Thomas' Obscurity: The Legitimacy of Explication, University of Georgia, 1968). He taught English at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs from 1968 to 1972, and later at the University of Georgia. In 1969 he married Jeri Ellis Whitaker. They had a son, Jamie, and a daughter, Stephanie Bishop Loftin, the mother of their two grandchildren. Jamie, a graphic artist who designed the covers of several of his father’s books, was an instructor of German and Information Technology at Virginia Tech and one of the victims of the mass shooting there on April 16, 2007. Stephanie is now a student at Columbia Presbyterian Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Mike’s first fiction sale was “Piñon Fall,” a story set in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado, where he was teaching at the time. Mike calls it “the first story I wrote that I was completely happy with.” It appeared in the October/November 1970 issue of Galaxy for the grand sum of $100. Having his name on the cover with Robert A. Heinlein undoubtedly added more to his spirit than this sum added to his pocket, but, within a few years, he had been published in all of the major genre magazines. These stories, particularly the 1973 novellas “The White Otters of Childhood” and “Death and Designation Among the Asadi” (competitors in that category on the same Hugo ballot), early on established his reputation in the science fiction field and contributed to his decision to leave to his teaching post at the University of Georgia in 1974 and become a full-time writer. Since then, he and his family have lived in a restored Victorian home, built in 1895, in the small West Georgia town of Pine Mountain. This region is the setting for many stories (including the Kudzu Valley stories), and the novels Who Made Stevie Crye? (1984), the first part of Ancient of Days (1985),


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 147 the parallel universe in The Secret Ascension, or Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas (1987), and his 1994 novel, Brittle Innings, which Mike calls his “Southern Gothic World War Two Baseball Novel.” During the early to mid 1970s, Mike wrote a series of stories set in a future Atlanta, including “The Samurai and the Willows,” later assembled in the collection/mosaic novel Catacomb Years (1979). The novel A Little Knowledge (1977) is also a part of the same series. Some years later he created a parallel, but contemporaneous, Atlanta which he called “Salonika” for the novel Count Geiger's Blues (1988). Modern-day Atlanta is featured in the acclaimed stories “Within the Walls of Tyre” (1978) and “Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats” (1991), in the second part of Ancient of Days (1985), and in Unicorn Mountain (1992), which also draws upon his years in Colorado. In 1975 A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire was published — his first novel, and the first of his several anthropological novels; it was favorably compared to the works of Ursula K. Le Guin, Chad Oliver, and James Tiptree, Jr. This group of novels also includes Stolen Faces (1977), Transfigurations (1979), and Eyes of Fire (1980), a complete rewrite of his first novel. Even though Mike would examine anthropological issues in later novels, their Earthly settings — prehistoric in No Enemy But Time and modern in Ancient of Days — would set them apart from these earlier “space operas.” Indeed, if the entire output of Michael Bishop's writing career were to be plotted, a definite arc would disclose itself, one presenting a gradual closing-in from the darkest, remotest regions of the universe to the sunniest streets of his own home town. This multi-dimensional representation would not only be geographical, but, literarily, would move from a focus on invented alien minds to a stronger scrutiny of the depths and complexities of the human heart.

Revision of a work originally published on www.michaelbishop-writer.com.

Anne E. Johnson

Anne E. Johnson, based in Brooklyn, writes in a variety of genres for both adults and children. Her short speculative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, FrostFire Worlds, Shelter of Daylight, The Future Fire, and elsewhere. Her series of humorous science fiction novels, The Webrid Chronicles, is being published by Candlemark & Gleam, as is her upcoming YA adventure novel, Space Surfers. Anne writes speculative fiction for children and tweens as well, including the paranormal mystery Ebenezer’s Locker from MuseItUp Publishing. Recently she signed with Black & White Press to create the text for a series of prose comic novelettes. Learn more on her website (1). Follow her on Twitter @AnneEJohnson. (1) Website: hanneejohnson.com Writer's Blog: anneejohnson.blogspot.com Theater Blog: buskeralley.wordpress.com


148 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Sebasti達o Peixoto

He was born in 1972 in Braga. He graduated in Plastic Arts - Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. In addition to the teaching activities and exhibitions of drawing and painting, he has collaborated with several publishers. facebook.com/pages/Brufen600/129612297068808?ref=sgm brufen600.blogspot.pt

Boris Glikman

Boris Glikman is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. The biggest influences on his writing are dreams, Kafka and Borges. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs.

Michael H. Hutchins

Michael H. Hutchins was born and raised in Georgia, United States. He created and currently maintains author Michael Bishop's official website (www. michaelbishop-writer.com). He has edited two collections of Michael Bishop's work: A Reverie for Mister Ray: Reflections on Life, Death, and Speculative Fiction, PS Publishing, 2005 and The Door Gunner and Other Perilous Flights of Fancy: A Michael Bishop Retrospective, Subterranean Press, 2012. He compiled and edited The Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide (www.sondheimguide.com). Michael is also a moderator and editor of The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (www.isfdb.org). His interests include music, theatre, (and musical theatre), travelling, reading, book collecting, and films. In late spring of 2013, he began a project to watch all films in The Criterion Collection, which currently consists of more than 1300 titles. Watch his progress at letterboxd.com/michaelhutchins/list/a-criterion-a-day.

Mark Terence Chapman

Mark Terence Chapman is the author of four science fiction novels: The Mars Imperative, The Tesserene Imperative, My Other Car is a spaceship (top 10 ranking in the Amazon Top 100 lists of both Space Opera and Military SF), and the upcoming Sunrise Destiny (late September). For more information about the author and his works, go to his blog: http://tesserene.blogspot.com or his website http://MarkTerenceChapman.com.


Issue 3 - September 2014 - The Ironic Fantastic | 149

Michael Cheval

Michael Cheval is the world's leading contemporary artist, specializing in Absurdist paintings, drawings and portraits. In his definition, "absurdity" is an inverted side or reality, a reverse side of logic. It does not emerge from the dreams of surrealists, or the work of subconsciousness. It is a game of imagination, where all ties are carefully chosen to construct a literary plot. Any one of Cheval's paintings is a map of his journey into illusion. His work is often metaphorical and requires a sharp eye to decipher the often hidden allusions. Born in 1966 in Kotelnikovo, a small town of southern Russia, Cheval developed passion for art in his early childhood. When his family moved to Germany in 1980, the West European culture made a great impression on the young artist. In 1986, he moved to Turkmenistan and graduated from Ashgabad school of Fine Art. Absorbing Eastern philosophy and the character of Central Asia, he began working as an independent professional artist, shaping his style and surrealistic direction. His decision to immigrate in 1997 to USA began a new epoch for the artist. He returned to the Western culture that greatly inspired him in his German youth, but now he brought his own experience, his philosophy, and vision. In 1998, Cheval became a member of the prestigious New York's National Arts Club where he was distinguished with the Exhibition Committee Award in 2000. He is also a member of the Society for Art of Imagination since 2002. Cheval published two full-colored art albums—Lullabies in 2004 and Nature of Absurdity in 2007. His work is internationally acclaimed and can often be seen in USA galleries and abroad.

Link:

chevalfineart.com

Andy Paciorek

The true magick of art is the discovery of the sublime within the mundane, the beautiful within the grotesque, the light within the darkness and all those reversed.

Biography Andy also expresses a different part of his creative psyche by working with other varied creative souls, most notably and very differently through the Balcan~Paciorek Symbiosis and as part of the Stegorek mongrel art collaborative. facebook.com/pages/TheArt-of-Adolf-Steg-The-Pre-Stegorek-Brotherhood/165480963601?ref=ts Andy has produced work for numerous outlets including Harper-Collins and Bizarre. He is available for suitable commissioned work, with a particular emphasis on book art. Signed limited edition digital prints of some of the images on this Page and on the website, and booklet collections of some of the projects are available to purchase. facebook.com/TheArtofAndyPaciorek batcow.co.uk/strangelands andypaciorek.tumblr.com blurb.com/user/store/andypaciorek visionaryartgallery.weebly.com/andy-paciorek.html youtube.com/user/andypaciorek


150 | The Ironic Fantastic - Issue 3 - Summer 2014

Lou Antonelli

Louis Sergio Antonelli (Lou Antonelli) (born January 6, 1957 in Medford, Massachusetts) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer who resides in Mount Pleasant, Texas. His stories have been published in magazines based in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada. Antonelli got a late start in his fiction writing career; his first story was published when he was 46 years old in June 2003. His first professional sale was "A Rocket for the Republic", published in Asimov's Science Fiction in September 2005. As of May 2014 he had 82 short stories published either in print or on-line. Eleven stories have received honorable mentions in The Year's Best Science Fiction published by St. Martin's Press for 2011, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004. "A Rocket for the Republic" placed third in the Asimov's Science Fiction Readers Poll for 2005 in the Short Story category. "Great White Ship" was a finalist for the Sidewise Award in alternate history in 2013. He is an Active Member of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and Secretary of the Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling (SASS). louantonelli.blogspot.pt

David Rix

David Rix is an author and publisher. He runs and creates the art for Eibonvale Press, which focuses on innovative and unusual new writing in the areas of Slipstream, Speculative Fiction and Horror. His published books are What the Giants were Saying and the novella/story collection Feather, which was shortlisted for the Edge Hill prize. In addition, his shorter works have appeared in various places, the most notable being many of the Strange Tales series of anthologies from Tartarus Press and Monster Book For Girls, from Exaggerated Press. As an editor, his first anthology, Rustblind and Silverbright, a collection of Slipstream stories connected to the railways, is currently shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award in the Best Anthology category. He is currently at work on his first novel, Meat. Having spent much of his life by the sea, which has left a permanent influence and deeply infused the stories in Feather, he now lives in north-east London. The city life has led to both an increasing urban feel in his writing and to the hobby of cycling round the city at 3AM with his camera, photographing the infinity of this bizarre place. Author homepage: http://www.davidjrix.co.uk Eibonvale Press: http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk Photography: https://www.flickr.com/eibonvale


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Rhys Hughes “the Welsh wizard of the Absurd”* The following books are currently on sale:

Captains Stupendous

So you want to know about the Faraway Brothers, do you?

Publisher: Telos Publishing Ltd http://www.telos.co.uk

The Lunar Tickle

Thornton Excelsior is a man but he’s not an individual, he’s a multitude, an ensemble of avatars of himself that can exist in any place at any time.

Publisher: Dog Horn Publishing http://www.doghornpublishing.com

Bottled Love Story

Love can't be bottled but it might arrive in a bottle... Love is a game like chess but with smiles, winks, laughs and kisses for pieces... Love is a problem. Is there a solution?

* Ceri Shaw

Publisher: Gloomy Seahorse Press http://www.lulu.com


Fantastic THE IRONIC Absurdist Lover Since 2013

The Ironic Fantastic #1 & The Ironic Fantastic #2 can be freely downloaded from

www.smashwords.com

The Ironic Fantastic #3  

The IRONIC FANTASTIC is a proposed series of ebook anthologies that will showcase international absurdist, quirky, unusual, whimsical and ir...

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