Icarus (Winter 2009) – Steve Berman, ed. (Lethe Press)

Buy It Now from Lethe Press.

This blog’s inaugural post was also the inaugural issue of Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction, and it’s only fitting, for a number of reasons, that we take a look at the Winter issue of that magazine on the last day of the year.

Berman’s most obvious talent (other than the fine writing he does on his own) is finding and nurturing the talent of others, and the Winter issue of Icarus includes stories by two writers new to queer spec fic: Robert Joseph Levy and Rodello Santos. Levy’s contribution is called “Choose Your Own,” a delightful little diversion that stops at multiple points to give the reader different reading options which takes the story arc in different directions.

Santos’ story is more traditional. “Sleep in Winter, Dream of Spring” is a poignant, medieval tale about a prince who falls in love with a minstrel who has been enchanted by a warlock such that he falls into a coma-like sleep at the first snowfall of winter. Will the prince kill the warlock and awaken his love? And will a kiss do the trick? Only a churl would tell.

The other two stories are strong entries as well: Chaz Brenchley offers “Walking at the Speed of Light, More Slowly,” a reflective piece about a boy and his mother and the stranger they invite into their home. Thoughtful and engaging, Brenchley’s story has interesting insights such as the following:

“We are a liminal people. If you would seek the heart of England, seek it at the margins. Those borderlands where we press against other folks’ spaces, or against the sea.”

I never thought of England that way.

My favorite, however, has to be “Ne Que V’on Desir,” a story by Tanith Lee writing as Judas Garbah that concerns the brief encounter between two men who meet on a train – one of them perhaps not quite a man. What impressed me most about this tale is its appeal to the sense of smell and touch. Lee’s language is beautifully expressive, and though this is the first piece of hers I’ve read, it certainly won’t be the last.

When you add to these terrific stories the artwork of David Gilmore, Tara Upchurch and Genevieve Gougeon, reviews of Berman’s Wilde Stories 2009 and John Simpson’s The Ghosts of Staunton Hall as well as other features, you’ll find Icarus’ Winter issue will keep you warm on the coldest night.

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