During one of my recent adventures through the blogosphere, I came across Cirsova and Cirsova Magazine. Reading the mission statement and description intrigued me so I picked up the latest issue. I put my current read on pause and read the excellent stories found in issue number 3.
Wow! Finally, some fantasy short stories that capture my imagination. Finally, short stories filled with action and adventure!
Before I give a more thorough review I want to make it clear that I really enjoy the short story. I own numerous collections and compilations of everyone from Hemingway to Gaiman. I even have active digital subscriptions to Analog and Asimov’s.
Yet, I often find myself being bored with a lot of modern SFF shorts. The last issue of Asimov if DNF’ed 90% of the stories. There seems to be a recent trend in the short story world away from action, adventure, and heroism. The focus seems to be on the literary, the urban, the fairytale magical, or magical realism in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
A good example of this is the Hugo Award winner The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu. A well-written story that I find excruciatingly boring and barely Fantasy. It seems that so many SFF writers come out of literary circles and workshops that Fantasy has become as monotonous as your stuffy slice of life short story in the New Yorker.
So how do I like my fantasy? Adventurous, mysterious, massive, and wild. I want to read stories that take me back to when I first cracked open my AD&D players guide and ran my friends through skeleton filled dungeons and protected villages from goblin raids. I want to be transported to worlds where Barbarians pit their swords and strength against evil serpent worshiping wizards. I crave stories filled with adventure and mystery. Fabulous ancient ruins filled with unspeakable horrors, vicious creatures, and evil wizards.
Cirsova Magazine is attempting to provide exactly what I am looking for. A pulp revival magazine focused on action and adventure, and issue #3 succeeds while leaving enough room for improvement that will keep me looking forward to the next issue.
The issue has several exciting adventures. A heavy focus on the Age of Sail mixed with magic in two stories, space piracy, futuristic space mercs, and sword and sorcery reminiscent of Conan. My favorite of the bunch was Clock’s Watch, an urban fantasy Lovecraftian possession story that begged to be turned into a full novel.
Cirsova is an indie publication so they need all the help and word of mouth. So if you love pulp adventure Fantasy and Sci-Fi hop over to Amazon and pick up the digital copy. It’s easily worth the price of a medium coffee at Starbucks.
Because I linked to a Tor.com short story I didn’t like I will link to one that I loved. Give this one a read for The Hell of It.