CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 32. . . .April 24, 2015
Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen.
Liana Kerzner & Jerome Stueart, eds.
Calgary, AB: Edge, 2015.
265 pp., trade pbk. & e-Book, $15.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77053-068-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77053-069-0 (e-Book).
Science fiction, Canadian (English).
Short stories, Canadian (English).
Canadian fiction (English)-21st century.
Grades 8 and up /Ages 13 and up.
Review by Ronald Hore.
A tour guide told his guests, “Jesus did not die in Israel as the Christians say. Instead his brother Isukiri substituted himself for Jesus on the cross. Jesus fled to Siberia, then to Shingo. He became a rice farmer, got married, had three children, and lived to be one hundred and six years old. Because of his foreign appearance, people called him the Big Nose Goblin.”
Nobody in Shingo knew that Jesus lived there until a Shinto priest discovered Jesus’ last will and testament in 1936. Jesus apparently wrote in Japanese, four hundred years before the Japanese had any written language.
Nobody in Shingo admitted to believing that Jesus had lived there. However nobody would turn away the tourists or their money either.
A middle aged woman approached him and said, “Ah, you must be Father Ito. I can tell by your clothes.”
Ito always wore a black suit and Roman collar when visiting a holy site, even one of dubious history. Shinto priests were there and he respected them. (From “Mecha Jesus”.)
Wrestling With Gods is an anthology described on the back cover as “Exploring Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” At 265 pages, the book consists of opening and closing essays by the two editors bracketing 25 stories and poems on the theme. At the end of the volume are six pages devoted to the publisher and their current list. Each story ends with the brief bio of the author.
The editor’s essays are titled, “Forward: The Disappearing Lion Trick” and “Afterword: The Struggle to Wrestle With Gods”.
The first story in the collection is “Mech Jesus”. It tells of an interesting tourist attraction and the mechanical orator.
This is followed by “Come All Yee Faithfull” which pursues the dilemma of a priest on Mars charged with investigating a supposed appearance of the Virgin Mary.
“A Hex, With Bees” a poem.
Next is “The Queen in the Poplar Forest”, a tale of a powerful ruler who is famous as a huntress. She learns there may be reasons not to hunt.
“A Cut and a Prayer” is a story of a woman who may go too far with surgery in her search to find Allah and peace.
The story “Under the Iron Rain” is a tale of a land under siege and a man’s desperate effort to save his daughter.
“The Shadows of Gods” tells of a mystical man, searching in a desert full of snakes for the truth.
“The Machine” – a poem.
In the next story, “Burnt Offerings”, readers are led into a futuristic militaristic world at war.
In “Ascension”, the reader follows a battered professional fighter seeking the gold card or enlightenment that will provide him with access to a version of heaven.
The story “The Faith Circus” tells is of a temple dancer who volunteers for a deadly arena in search of heroes.
“The Seven Creations Book One” finds a lone disciple facing those who do not believe and who wish to overthrow the local religion.
“The Rev. Mr. Alline Encounters an Uncommon Light; or, Vapors of Nitre as an Alarming Means: A Found Poem” – a poem.
In “The Harsh Light of Morning”, a vampire locked in a jail cell has a conversation with the aboriginal Mountie who is guarding her.
“Summon the Sun” tells the tale of a misguided young woman who raises up Ra, the Sun God, in her small apartment, and the problems this causes.
One of the laborers in the creation department disobeys his superior in the story, “So Loved”.
“The Moral of the Story” is a tale with a dystopian setting about a catcher of fish and the resident lake monster.
Readers go into deep space for “Soul Survivor” about a crew on a starship about to have a first encounter with aliens.
“Exoplanet IV” – a poem.
The reader visits a non human life form in “Chromatophoric Histories of the Sepiidae” and follows their development.
“Ganapati Bappa Moriya” tells the story of a dissatisfied Hindu god and his interaction with the modern world, especially Bollywood.
In “Abominato”, the author takes readers back to a dystopian world and the effects of a strange plague.
“When Bone Ships Sailed the Stars” – a poem.
“The Last Man on Earth” tells the tale of Millie, alone on a dying Earth, who meets a stranger.
“Where the Scorched Man Walks” is a story of witches and death in a tribal landscape.
Wrestling With Gods is an anthology of short stories and poems by Canadian authors of speculative fiction. Well written, and certainly varied in a past, present and future approach to life, death, and the afterlife, the volume continues in the tradition of the “Tesseracts” series. It will appeal to lovers of this familiar format.
Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, writes medieval style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.
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