________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012


Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound.

Mark Leslie, Editor.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2012.
257 pp., trade pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-92-0.

Subject Headings:
Science fiction, Canadian (English)
Short stories, Canadian (English)

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



The quote was from William S. Burroughs:

     "Ten Years and a Billion Dollars."

The plaque hung over the door to The Institute of Language Studies. Looking up at it, Ben Rhodes dropped his cigarette to the wet concrete. It sizzled out.
"Pretty rainy today," said the unnecessary security guard.
"Supposed to be a wet November."

"It's off to a good start then," Ben said. He took the elevator to the third floor. In his office, his partner waited for him. Looked frantic but he always did.

"I've been trying to get a hold of you since two this morning," Peter said. "Don't you answer your phone?"

"No." Ben shook the rain from his coat and hung it up. He sat behind his desk. Peter's eyes were wide, bloodshot and glistening, the face animated by twitches. "What is it?" (From "Ghost in the Meme".)


The theme for this version of the Tesseracts collection is "Parnassus Unbound" and focuses on art, music, literature and cultural elements. The collection opens with a listing of other books in the Tesseracts series followed by a four page Introduction by the editor, 28 short stories and poems, and closes with four pages listing other books by the publisher. The anthology begins with "Ghost in the Meme," which looks into whether language could be considered intelligent. Next is "Back in Black" a story that follows a search for the Holy Grail of recorded music. Then comes "Mathom Measures," a poetic rant.

     "Artistic Licence" tells of a tech writer who runs afoul of the law in a future world. That is followed by "Saturn in G Minor" that takes readers into outer space and a visit to a reclusive musician. In "Zombie Poet", readers visit the problem of a decaying writer.

      Next is "The Language of Dance" which tells of a dance recital involving a critical meeting between two different species. "Gregor Samsa was never in the Beatles" involves a writer in prison. In "Immortality", a woman returns to a high school reunion after sixty years.

     "Sixteen Colors" is a brief commentary on parallel Earths. This story is followed by "Bemused" and a scientist struggling to cleanse humanity of creative parasites. In "Once Upon a Midnight", readers meet an angry woman working in an unusual laboratory.

     "Drumbeats" follows a rock drummer wandering in Africa in search of an unusual drum. Next, the title "Zombie Descartes Writes a Personal Ad" perfectly describes the content of this poem. The story "Writer's Block" covers what happens when an imagination is too vivid.

     "Theater of the Vulnerable" projects a look into a futuristic performance. In "The Day the Music Died", readers follow a search for a serious problem set in the future. Next is "Microfiche, or, The Indexing of History", a poetic glimpse into archiving.

      In "Blink", readers follow a writer and his version of a dating game. "Burning Beauty" tells of a teenage girl and an unwanted admirer. This is followed by a look into ballet with "The Faun and the Sylphide".

      An unusual fan stars in "I'm With The Band." "My Teenage Angstrom Poem" tells of the daydreams of a teenage science fiction fan. In "Cult Stories", readers wander through the world of Trekkies and strange cults.

      "Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears" brings in mythical characters to a tale where the main protagonist is a Sasquatch. The story "Slava the Immortal" is a fantasy about a king who has the power to change his face. A young girl believes she is hallucinating because she sees people who should not be there in "Old Soul". The final entry in the collection is "The Song of Conn and the Sea People", an epic-style poem set in Celtic Ireland.

      Tesseracts Sixteen, an anthology whose contributions come from a wide variety of authors, some well-known and some newer, includes something that should appeal to almost any reader of fantasy or speculative fiction. The stories vary in length from one to thirty-four pages.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy and science fiction in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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