Similar to last month’s issue, the March 2008 issue for The Town Drunk is one for two yet again.
“The Importance of Portents” by Jason E. Thummel tells the story of a local soothsayer named Zoltar and the up-and-coming mechanical competitor that threatens to ruin his readings forever. When his clients begin cancelling more frequently, Zoltar really grows agitated that such a contraption could read peoples’ fortunes better than he. Forced to turn to unsavory actions, the soothsayer will soon learn that not everyone’s future can be so easily predicted.
You know, I’m going to consider a story beyond successful if it actually makes me laugh out loud. And this one did, right here:
Zoltar crumpled the paper and set it aflame with an igniting spell. So, they wanted to play hardball, did they? Well, he would just go to Cheapside and show them how hard his balls could be.
With prose almost gleefully enjoying itself more than the reader can, “The Importance of Portents” is a fun adventure. The ending happened appropriately enough, despite the sudden POV switch that made it seem half-heartedly pieced together. I’m sure there could’ve been another way to write it to better portray Zoltar’s outcome while sticking in his mindset.
Rating: 8.5 anonymous stars out of 10
“Lampreyhead Meets the Vampire Slaughterers” by Tim W. Burke sounds like the title to a lost episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Luckily, it isn’t. A hell-spawned and somewhat awkwardly-produced hero by the name of Lampreyhead enters a club in downtown Montreal for the sole purpose of slaughtering vampire slaughterers. You know, before they get him. Things quickly get out of hand, and our hapless hero finds himself surrounded by every genre cliche in the book: werewolves, fallen kings, vampires, smoky demons, and so on.
The story is heavy on being, hmm, light. There’s no a lot of emotion to the piece, and the dialogue and characters came off as rather slapsticky. It’s not that the story fails completely–there’s a nice moment of humor when a waitress delivers a nice slab of raw hamburger meat to a you-know-what–but for the most part the plot never slowed down to take itself seriously. And where there’s humor, there needs to be a balance of other weights. Also, the cast got too big way too fast, and I found myself trying to figure out everybody else first before I even gave one ounce of affection toward our slow-to-the-jump protagonist. Oh well.
Rating: 6 anonymous stars out of 10