It has been too long since I read another Broadswords & Blasters issue, so here is #6!
There’s something for everyone, from cowboys on mechanical horses to kaiju to experimental noir. Really have to hand it to editors Matthew & Cameron, they do a fantastic job!
The Orge’s Secret by Robert Walton
Bogerd and his trusty right-hand man, Karl will brave Mount Ogre in search of something divinely treasured. Little do either of them realize that the gods themselves are invested in their quest.
This is a fun tale, in the tradition of Conan the Barbarian and other sword and sorcery stories. Bogerd is a somewhat masterful warrior entrusted with a vision and eventual mission, yet consistently aided by his brother-in-arms, Karl.
This story had some subversion going on, namely how incompetent Bogerd could be at times, although by the end the world opens up and it seems there’s a much larger drama afoot. Walton does a wonderful job injecting some humor alongside the gruff warriors. Will need to keep an eye out for the next installment.
Marshal Marshall Meets The Mechanical Marauder by Rie Sheridan Rose
Coraline has had it with her lot as a working girl and may have found her ticket out via her new daytime gig. Japheth Marshall is the new sheriff in town and a certain marauder astride a mechanical horse has his attention.
Another tongue in cheek story, where working girl Coraline is willing to do just about anything to change her current living situation. This was a fun weird western with steampunk elements that anyone who is a fan of the Old West can easily jump in on. Rose’s prose is light and with a few dashes of humor, which isn’t just restricted to wordplay.
Collateral Damage by Adam S. Furman
DeShawn only has one wish, to keep his son, Keeden safe. The only problem is that their city is under constant attack by kaiju and the giant manned robot protectors do little to actually keep them safe.
Reversing the old trope of giant robots and monsters tearing apart a city, we have a jarring narrative told with as much frenetic energy as Cloverfield. The intimate connection of father and son is front and center throughout this thrilling story. You can’t put this one down and Furman does everything he can to ensure it’s not a simple paint by numbers short of search and rescue. DeShawn is also given enough of his own flavor even in crisis to really blunt the utter terror he feels as buildings and rubble falls all around him. Don’t miss this one!
A Scent of Blood and Salt by Marcus Hansson
Garrol and Jim, an unlikely pair, are struggling to keep themselves alive in the wastes. What they choose to do next to survive will define them.
This story is honestly one of the best I have ever read in Broadswords and Blasters and Hansson does not let up in this. The story itself is quiet, but blends two classic works of literary bleakness, No Country for Old Men and The Road, which both belong to Cormac McCarthy.
It is a seemingly meandering story, following a broken man, who can see the end coming, but ends up missing what and who is already there. The stark emptiness makes this story hit all the harder, along with Hansson’s sparse, yet descriptive prose.
Royal Stowaway by Catherine J. Cole
Dalton Delivery 5 are about to get a little more than they bargained for when they go to retrieve a prince-ling amid tenuous alien relations.
With the feel of Flash Gordon and the craziness of Hitchhiker’s Guide, Cole has nailed pulpy science fiction in “Royal Stowaway.” A rather straightforward retrieval becomes more and more twisty when communication breaks down, as it always does. Lots to love here for sci fi lovers, from ugly aliens, to lasers, to warrior women, there’s something quick and fast about this story that really satisfies the reader’s palette.
Her Coffin is Colder than the Mink Glove by J.D. Graves
Are you the spy? Or is it the character? Are you retired? Or are you just on vacation? Yet, the mission still finds you and trouble follows.
Graves throws a curve-ball with this story, as do the editors of B&B. Not only is this a more experimental story, but it is told entirely in second person. Luckily, this is done for full effect and as a reader, I love second person, especially when it’s done this way. The immersion quality of this is taken to level 11 and we’re off on a tale of intrigue and possible murder. One must applaud Graves and the editors for taking such a risk.
Pigsty by Jared Mason
Sylas, a dream weaver, finds himself in a situation that he might not be able to smooth-talk himself out of.
This story was extremely personal and searingly intimate, which doesn’t happen in pulp often enough. Mason strikes directly at the heart when he places Sylas, our hero, in direct conflict with the hearts of those he’s attempting to help, even if under duress. There’s plenty of action and the antagonist is definitely one to hate for a little while, but while things seemingly get resolved with relative ease, there’s still a very haunting notion of the consequences that are left behind.
Tomorrow’s Eyes by David VonAllmen
After being part of an experimental drug trial, a desperate brother attempts to secure his future, while attempting to protect everything he loves most.
This was an almost entirely chemically induced wild ride of a story. Following a narrator who seems to be losing his grip on reality by the sentence, he is desperate to protect his younger brother from an impending doom. Yet, we are not sure there is a doom at all, based on his drug addled brain. This story contains plenty of tragedy, but overall a strong core, which VonAllmen uses to it’s fullest advantage and closes this issue on a strong note.