________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 13. . . .November 25, 2011


Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Curious Tales.

Julie Czerneda & Susan MacGregor, eds.
Calgary, AB: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2011.
270 pp., pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-58-6.

Subject Headings:
Speculative fiction-Canadian (English).

Science fiction, Canadian (English).
Short Stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 8 and up /Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4



There are only two news crews this morning, so after I turn out the workhorses and feed the unicorn, I might actually make it to the bus before it pulls away. Maybe.

I take a bite out of the stale bagel Dad's left out on the counter and slug down my glass of orange juice. It makes a sticky ring on the table when I clank the glass down and hoist my backpack over one shoulder.

I stand in front of the chipped green door a moment, catching my breath before I have to go out there.

"Two cups of bran!" Dad hollers down the stairs. His voice is slurred, but I can't tell if it's from sleep or booze.

You'd think he'd know by now that I know how much to feed the friggen' Frankengoat. (From "Fragile Things").


The anthology Tesseracts Fifteen consists of 27 speculative fiction short stories edited by a pair of experienced Canadian authors and editors, Julie Czerneda and Susan Mac Gregor. The stated theme is stories for young adults and the young at heart, all with a rating of PG-14. The volume opens with forewords by each editor and closes with brief biographies of each editor plus the cover artist. A short bio of each of the 27 individual authors appears at the end of every story.

      The first story, "A Safety of Crowds," follows fame of sorts in this era of instant recognition.

      The second story, "Fragile Things," tells of a young man and the problems of living on a farm with a rather unusual animal.

      This is followed by "Just Dance," a tale of a girl who can cross over to a strange world when things threaten to get out of hand.

      "Adaptation," the first of four brief poems with a speculative theme, takes a look at our long path, beginning with our origin.

      "Saving the Dead of the Diary of the Undertaker's Apprentice" tells the story of a young man, with special powers, and the doomed ship, the Titanic.

      In "Feral," the author brings the problems to light that a 16-year-old werewolf might encounter.

      Next is "A+ Brain," a story set in a world where brain replacement and upgrade is commonplace.

      In the story "The Road of Good Intentions," a young man, three quarters human, sets out to save a friend.

      "The Windup Heiress," the next story in the collection, is a speculative fiction take on an old fairy tale.

      In "The Bridge Builder," set in Calgary at a gaming and comic convention, readers meet a young gamer with unusual powers.

      "My Name is Tommy" is a story of a young man on an interstellar voyage who may be far more than he seems.

      The next story, "Darwin's Vampire," illustrates what happens when you are bitten by an unusual vampire.

      "Costumes" leads the reader to a classroom, complete with a rather unusual teacher and at least one confused student.

      The second poem in the collection, "Civility," is about an attempt at alien contact.

      "Take My Waking Slow" expands on a theme of virtual reality and life in the distant future.

      In the story "The Weirdo Adventures of Steve Rand," readers follow a young man who cannot stop dreaming about a very strange super hero.

      "Every You, Every Me" is a tale of a high school student who finds she is seeing a superior double of herself, everywhere.

      The third poem, "The Oak Girl," tells of a wood carver.

      In "Edge of Moonglow," a college professor invents something that might prove harmful to some of his stranger students.

      "Split Decision" explores what happens when students are faced with the opportunity for first contact with aliens.

      In the story "Hide," a young girl comes face-to-face with the problems of playing a rather unusual game of hide-and-seek.

      The next tale, set in a winter storm, is "Four Against Chaos" which explores the adventures of four unusual young boys.

      "Ice Pirates" follows a young man in a story setting the great age of piracy into a world of magic.

      The final poem in the collection, "You Always Knew," features Death as the main character.

      "The Illumination of Cypher-Space" combines a runaway young girl, graffiti artists, and magic in a story of revenge.

      The story, "The Tremor Road," presents a more Oriental take on a questing tale of Magi vs villainy.

      The final story in the collection, "The Memory Junkies," describes a rather different group of eco-terrorists in a future world.

      Tesseracts Fifteen should appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy speculative fiction. There is a broad variety of themes and characters. With the majority of the authors, Canadian, or Canadian based, and with quite a range of writing experience, the collection gives a good view of what is going on in the heads of northern writers of speculative fiction.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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