What kind of magazine is Shimmer? What kind of stories do Beth Wodzinski and her staff choose for inclusion, do they hold true to their criteria, and in the end do all of the components mix and match and meld into a compelling collection of modern fantasy fiction?
“Seek Him i’th’ Other Place Yourself” by Josh Storey
“No Place Like Home, or Building the Yellow Brick Road” by Krista Hoeppener Leahy
To quote from Shimmer‘s own guidelines, they’re looking for
“Unusual and beautifully-written speculative fiction stories with full plots and strong characters“
“…strong emotional core.“
Issue 12 of Shimmer, released on October 12, 2010, more than fits the bill. Its nine stories and four illustrations sensually dance within and around the same core theme, the same emotional pivot point. At the throbbing heart of each of these stories (some more literally than others) lies love. Weird love, love wild and ancient and fey and young, but love nonetheless.
As I traversed the landscape of adoration laid out by the authors and editors of Shimmer, one of the first things I noticed was the general consistency of luscious language from one story to the next. Upon reflection, there were a couple of stories which seemed to me not quite as luminous as the rest, even as they all evoked the numinous, but I believe this was more a result of their proximity to their more brilliant brethren, rather than any lack of polish or care lavished upon them by their respective authors. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the stories, but not just because of their authors’ considerable skill as wordsmiths. As I read from story to story, I found myself wondering how the next author would approach the central theme of the issue, and how it would differ from the tale I was currently enjoying.
While I enjoyed all of the stories in Shimmer #12, there are a couple which continue to waft back into my consciousness like the memory of a lover’s gentle kiss upon my ear. One of these is Josh Storey‘s “Seek Him i’th’ Other Place Yourself ,” and the other is Krista Hoeppener Leahy‘s “No Place Like Home, or Building the Yellow Brick Road.” The two stories are very different, in spite of them both being built upon an existing and well known myth (one ancient, one modern) and both luxuriously exploring the power love can grant one, if only you surrender yourself to its not-so-tender mercies.
Storey’s “Him i’th’ Other Place Yourself” re-examines and re-mixes the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, beautifully stirring in elements of high fey, modern urban fantasy, the original Greek myth, and our modern reverence for the sublime contained in the bestial. The combination is heady and pungent and filled with heartache, and at the end I found myself thinking that the original Orpheus deserved to lose Eurydice, not because of any lack of faith, but because…because… he didn’t do what Storey had Arturo dare to do. In doing so, the story implicitly asks if you, the reader, have fortitude to do what true love will demand of you.
Leahy’s “No Place Like Home, or Building the Yellow Brick Road,” on the other hand, springs from L. Frank Baum’s Oz, and presents an explanation for the creation of the road of yellow brick. The story is stocked with some, but not all, of the familiar inhabitants of Oz as we’ve grown to know them over the years. The story centers on the witches and the Tin Man, who are put through their archetypal paces, but with modern sensibilities, resulting in moves and motivations which are both natural and surprising. Quite a feat. The sense of place is concrete, and not just because of our familiarity with Oz. Leahy paints sumptuous tableaus, easily as vivid as those in the 1939 film, and the characters stand up solidly, behaving in ways which make emotional sense.
Shimmer is well worth the price of admission, whether you pay $4.00 for a single electronic issue or $22.00 for a year’s print subscription, with other options available. I cannot wait to see what other themes will be examined by Shimmer‘s editors and authors.