Sunday, May 31, 2009

Aaron's Story Recommendation of the Week :: Blue Joe by Stephanie Burgis

After a couple months dead air at Fantastic Reviews, we'll try to get back into the swing of things with a recommendation for an excellent story, "Blue Joe" by Stephanie Burgis, from Issue #10 of Shimmer magazine, which is available as a free download.
Josef Anton Miklovic, Blue Joe, was twenty-one years old and playing the sax in a nightclub in Youngstown, Ohio, when he met his father for the first time.
That first line leads us quickly into a fantastic opening scene, in which Blue Joe's father somehow freezes time to introduce himself to his son (who did not know his mother's husband was not his father) right in the middle of a concert. We immediately see that Blue Joe's father has amazing powers, yet "Blue Joe" addresses its fantasy elements with a nicely understated tone.

"Blue Joe" is not about all the incredible things the father can do, it is about how that kept him away from his son for so many years, and both men's regrets and resentments. Beyond that, it is about the regrets each of us inevitably has over the choices we make——it is no coincidence that the protagonist plays the blues.

For ten issues, Shimmer has been making a home for stories like "Blue Joe," which is the kind of quiet tale that lacks the fireworks the major magazines are looking for but ultimately makes for very rewarding reading. Stephanie Burgis has appeared in Strange Horizons, Lone Star Stories, Flytrap and other publications, and the first volume of her YA trilogy The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson is due out in 2010.