This is the third (out of four) issue of Three Crows Magazine that I’ve had the privilege to read to date. And although they have already published some really great short stories in previous issues, so far this one was my favourite. Three Crows Magazine‘s team really outdid themselves with this one.
This magazine, similar to Grimdark Magazine is published quarterly, featuring short stories, interviews, reviews, and other articles related to all things SFF. As their staff is pretty diverse, they represent this diversity in their content—be it an established author or a debuting one, be it grimdark, sci-fi, magical realism, be it an Asian, Western, Eastern-European setting, everything can find its place within these pages.
In the fourth issue you can find three short stories by Avra Margariti, Stephen Couch and Eliza Chan—find my mini reviews below—an interview with G.V. Anderson and Evan Winter, reviews of: A Collection of Obsessions by Michael R. Fletcher; Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky; A Ritual of Bones by Lee C. Conley; Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed and an essay on the development of desert narratives from the Dune to Empire of Sand.
I highly recommend checking Three Crows Magazine #4 all out, and in case you need further encouragement, here is what I thought of the short stories published in this issue:
Little Bear by Avra Margariti
Little Bear is what I would call atmospherical—if there is a word like that. It gripped me right from the first sentence and never let go. It doesn’t have much of a world building or intricate plot, but its simplicity, and the hinted brutality of the world works pretty well together. I don’t want to reveal anything about the story, because it’s beautiful, heart wrenching and brutal which you have to experience for yourself, without expectations and knowing what hit you. Little Bear reads a bit like a fable of old times, a myth, which doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, but tells how the world really is, instead of dressing it in pink and sprinkling glitter on it to be more acceptable. There is nothing explicit in the writing, no gruesome scenes, and still, at the core there is something really dark. That kind of darkness that’s part of life, the darkness that dwells within.
I definitely will take a look at Margariti’s other work.
In Cube Eight by Stephen Couch
It’s not much of a secret that me and sci-fi aren’t really on the best of terms. Anything about A.I.s, spaceships, advanced technology just makes my head spin and I just blink like a fish thrown on land suddenly. So, that said, it’s really hard to win me over with anything sci-fi related. Maybe that’s also why I rate harsher works like that. I promise it’s nothing personal, just my own preference, really. I always tried to be as objective as I can be though. And the reason I got into explaining all this is, that I absolutely have no idea where to put In Cube Eight. As short stories go, it’s a good one. A bit mysterious and leaves you wondering which of the three dreams were true—I have a pretty good idea myself.
In Cube Eight is kind of a psychedelic UFO hunting story while not only people but the A.I. gets high too. It’s an interesting idea. I didn’t really understand what was going on until about the halfway mark, and then I got interested. It didn’t blow me away as Little Bear did (which affected me more emotionally), but got me thinking instead. I would have liked to learn more about the characters, to be able to connect them in a way, but other than that, I can see why this one was chosen for the magazine.
Knowing Your Type by Eliza Chan
Whoa. I really dig Knowing Your Type. It’s creepy and has a twist that I’m really not sorry about. Actually, I kind of waited for it to happen and would have been disappointed if it didn’t. There is something satisfying reading about justice served. I’m trying hard not to go into details so I won’t spoil it for you, but let me just say this: Karma is a bitch. And has a sadistic sense of humour. I recently read a novel with a plush toy as the main character, and that story made me all warm and fuzzy, this one made me keep my distance from them… Read it, you’ll understand. I liked that it had an Asian-like setting—I mean, one of the main characters were a Japanese girl, duh—and I’m inclined to find out more about the author’s other works.