Three Crows Magazine #2 by Alex Khlopenko

Series: Three Crows Magazine #2 Rating: 3.75/5
Date of Publishing: January 2nd 2019 Genre: fantasy, dark fantasy
Publisher: Three Crows Magazine Available: Amazon, TCMPatreon
Number of pages: 75 Author’s website: http://threecrowsmagazine.com/

Quote of the Book

“Leaves rattled in the wind like haggard breath, calling for one last kiss from their lover suns.”

– Necromancer’s Garden by Gerard Mullan

Blurb

Three Crows Magazine is a quarterly Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine that includes short stories, reviews, and interviews with writers, editors, and influencers in the world of SFF. 

In this issue: 

Fiction: 

"Stones" by the queen of grimdark herself, Anna Smith Spark. The story set in the world of "Empires of Dust", tells of the clash of the fantastic creature of the sea and the toxic culture of men. 
"Redundancy of Yellow Flower Tea" by Luke Frostick, paints a tender but a dying world that fell victim to the infinite appetites of progress. 
"Necromancer's Garden" by Gerard Mullan, a poetic tale of a woman who escaped the grip of the society and her controlling fiance to live in solitude. Only for him to try to drag her back. 
"Till the Very End of Days" by T.A. Sola, a dark Slavic drama about desperate times pushing people into deals with mythological beings. 


Non-Fiction: 

"Hardwired: Gender bias in robots and AI" by Rebecca Zahabi, on how today's AIs and Robots inherited our biases and what should we do about it. 
Interview with Steven Erikson, author of Malazan Book of The Fallen, about his new book "Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart", current politics, post-structuralism, mimetic novels, and why we should send sci-fi writers to meet aliens. 
Interview with Cristina Jurado, editor of SuperSonic magazine and international editor of Apex Magazine, about editing her new essay collection Infiltradas: Reflexiones de literatura de género desde la perspectiva de genero (Infiltrated Women: reflecting on SFF literature from a feminine perspective) 
Reviews of the self-published sensation "Blood of Heirs" by Alicia Wanstall-Burke and the book widely regarded as one of the best of 2018 - "Rosewater" by Tade Thompson. 

Cover Art is another excellent piece from Cze Peku inspired by "Stones" with a pinch of Altresyr colors in it.

Personal notes

I’ve got a free copy from Alex Khlopenko, editor of Three Crows Magazine in exchange of an honest review. Thanks for the opportunity Alex! 🙂

Song of the Book

Once I really started to think what song should I choose, the first thing that came to mind were roses – read Gerard Mullen’s short story and you’ll understand. And from there the logical step was Poets of the Fall. Roses happens to be one of my favorite songs from them. It might not be a perfect fit, but I’ll damned if I don’t pick this one.

Review

Seems like lately I’ve been sucked into the world of SFF magazines. I find it curious, as I never was the magazine reading type – well, there was a time I’ve got BBC’s History magazine regularly, but then, I have a degree in History so that was kind of a given. Even so, I’m amazed by the quality and diversity these digital magazines bring into the genre.

Three Crows Magazine had only started its journey, this only being the second issue, but I can already say it has a place in the market. It not only features critically acclaimed authors like Anna Smith Spark, but also gives a chance to upcoming, talented authors such as Gerard Mullen, Luke Frostick and T.A. Sola. All of their stories represent a different culture, giving us a glimpse into our beautiful, colorful world through the eyes of SFF.

This would have been more than enough, but they went even further and added an interview with the author of the Malazan series, Steven Erikson, as well as a Spanish author/editor Cristina Jurado. The picture will be complete with an essay titled Hardwired: Gender bias in robots and artificial intelligence by Rebecca Zahabi – this is an interesting article and makes one really think about the way we see not only our world, but that of the computer’s too. And if it wasn’t still enough, there are also two reviews of Rosewater by Tade Thompson and Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke.

I really recommend checking out Three Crows Magazine, as it offers content in a wide spectrum and I’m sure you will find something to your taste.

Stones by Anna Smith Spark – 2/5

I’ve been hearing quite a lot about Anna Smith Spark from my grimdark loving friends. For me, this was my first encounter with her writing. Honestly, I’m not really impressed. While I like the idea behind the story of Stones – featuring a fisherman and a selkie – as I love mythology and am a sucker for everything that’s got a connection with myths, I don’t think it managed to deliver on its promise. I’ve seen people praise Anna Smith Spark’s prose, which I think is supposed to be musical and enchanting, but for me it didn’t work. I found it repetitive and distracting from the plot – which was a bit lacking. The fisherman could have been an interesting character if he was a bit more fleshed out. I know, it’s a short story, there is not much place for characterisation or plot for that matter, but still, there has to be something to capture your imagination and want you to learn more about the world. This kind of magic didn’t happen to me with Stones, and that’s a shame.

 

Necromancer’s Garden by Gerard Mullen – 5/5

Whoa, now here is a short story that totally got me engrossed. Gresha wants nothing else but to live in peace surrounded by her flowers. Until her past comes through the window and tries to drag her back where she is supposed to belong. Gerard Mullen created a delightfully creepy atmosphere in Necromancer’s Garden, and I couldn’t help but feel it drawing me in. I don’t really know how should I describe it. Disturbingly weird in the best possible way. I’d really like to see what the author can do with a more complex story, a novella or a novel even. I’m pretty sure we have to keep an eye on him, because the guy got some serious potential. You really, really, should check Necromancer’s Garden out if you like stories with a dark twist and a bit out of the norm.

 

Redundancy of Yellow Flower Tea by Luke Frostick – 3.5/5

We are having another debuting author here with Luke Frostick. Redundancy of Yellow Flower Tea gives off a Japanese inspired vibe. The world, the names, the terms are all suggesting that. We are following a tax collector who arrives to a remote island, one of the farthest in the empire, and one of the poorest too. Ume-Hana has to cross the island on foot because both the first village’s tenants and the captain of the Iron Boat on which she arrived refuses to take her. On her way she encounters a dying beast and an old woman who is a nun at the Yellow Flower Temple. The writing and plot need a bit of polishing, but the world seems interesting. Reduncancy of Yellow Flower Tea has a really strong message that even to us, the people of the 21st century is relevant. Basically: don’t kill nature. I’d be interested to learn how the nun’s little act affected the world in the long run.

 

Till the Very End of Days by T.A. Sola – 4.5/5

In terms of writing probably Till the Very End of Days is the most polished and has the most complex plot out of the four. This one draws from Slavic folklores, featuring rusalki and a vodyanoy. One day Vasile’s father disappears, and in the next years a famine makes life hard for the villagers. As it usually happens, famine is only the beginning of the problems people have to face. Vasile, driven by his worry for his injured friend, the village and himself, makes a decision which only a few people would make. But not without consequences. This story has an eary atmosphere and teaches us no matter how good our intentions are, nothing comes free. T.A. Sola manages to capture the essence of Vasile’s character and tell refined, layered story in only a few pages. I’m quite impressed.

 

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