Breach – Issue #01: NZ and Australian SF, Horror and Dark Fantasy

by Peter Kirk

Synopsis

The first issue of Breach is a collection of three short stories and one poem. The three stories are all in the science fiction genre, with touches of horror and humor. The poem is similar to a sea chanty in subject but with a supernatural tone.

Theme

The three stories take common activities: visiting a zoo, making a call to customer service, scavenging, and push them beyond the boundaries of reality. The poem, The Devil’s Loop is the story of a ship lost not at sea but in a space out of time. All four entries share this unreality, this breaking of the boundaries between what is ‘normal’ or expected and what could happen.

What I Liked About the Story

The first story in the issue, Unknown by Hannah C. van Didden, is reminiscent of Stephen King in that it combines elements of science fiction and horror. A couple take a long-awaited vacation and visit an extraterrestrial zoo full of alien creatures. One of the creatures, dubbed ‘The Unknown’ is kept in a pitch black room. The couple discover the door is unlocked and enter the room with surprising results.

The second story, Peter Kirk’s Matey is the best in the issue. ‘Matey’ is a robot, an older model that no longer functions well. ‘Matey’s’ owner, an old man, treats his robot as almost a part of his family. When he can no longer repair Matey himself, he makes a fateful call to customer service. Anyone who has had to deal with a help line for technology can identify with Matey’s owner. This story has elements of humor but also elements of pathos. It is easy to identify with the owner, Cole, who is dealing with both outdated technology and impersonal service.

Hurk and Dav , the third story by Arthur Robinson, has elements of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. The two main characters are similar to Lenny and George respectively, with Hurk being somewhat slow and Dav the brains of the pair. There is even an analog to Steinbeck’s Curley in the character of Clevus, a not very intelligent bully who picks on Hurk. While the story itself is derivative, it is not a bad read.

Finally, readers can imagine a ship’s crew singing the poem by Jesse Hayward, The Devil’s Loop which tells the story of a ship captured by a strange crew and having to make a pact with the devil to escape.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

Neither the stories by Robinson and van Didden nor the poem are very original. It is quite easy to see how the authors derived their work from the work of others. This is not to say that the stories and poem are not entertaining. They are. The writing is competent. A magazine like ‘Breach’ would be a good place for new authors to exercise their imaginations and present work that not only entertains but awakens the imagination of the reader. These entries, while good enough, are not quite there.

It would have been very helpful for readers to indicate the website where copies of ‘Breach’ can be found.

Final Say

Fans of science fiction who are looking for quick, entertaining stories would do well to pick up a copy of Breach.

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