Review: Three Crows Magazine Issue 1
4/5| Speculative Fiction| 78 pages
Three Crows Magazine (that’s a direct link to their site) is a recently released publication from a team of three editors and a multitude of different authors, focusing on fantasy and science-fiction in particular with interviews and reviews joining the fray. I paid $2.99 for my PDF copy and have to say that it worked perfectly on my iPad. The team behind the magazine consists of editor-in-chief is Alex Khlopenko, working with fellow editors Olivia Hofer and Rey Gustavez.
You may have seen reviews for short a couple of the short stories from this issue on my blog earlier, but this post is a review for the entirety of the magazine. I will be breaking the review down to match the organisation of the magazine and linking to previous reviews for some of the pieces.
- Animals of Ure – Daryna Stremetska. 4/5. I really did enjoy this short story and hope that one day we might get an expansion on its events. The translation (from Maksym Bakalov) is seamless and conveys the story without fault.
- Deciding Vote – Michael Kellichner. 3/5. This entry was quite problematic for me as I feel like it is just a conflagration of lots of other well-known tropes. As the name suggests, the narrative follows one figure as he tries to work out what is best for his people (and indeed the world), but to me, it lacked the necessary tension required to really make me care about the characters or the wider universe in general.
- High, High Country – Brandom Daubs. 4/5. A much tenser thriller-esqe story which I highly enjoyed and cannot recommend enough to those after a spooky story with heaps of tension and a clean, direct writing style.
- Diplomatic Immunity – David M. Kimmel. 3.5/5. Diplomatic Immunity was well-placed in this collection as it provided a break from the tension of Daub’s work. It breaks down potential issues and harmonies between Earthlings and aliens, with communication being a major player here. It was good but a little bit too predictable to score higher than a 3.5/5.
- Folk Hunters – KateKarl Lanier. 3/5. This story and I did not get along too well truth be told – the mechanics behind the plot are not explained in anywhere enough detail as to entertain me, and the characters aren’t developed (or even described) enough to make me care about them. At the very end of the short there is a quick dialogic exchange and a bit of a hint towards future events, but honestly, 4.5 pages were not enough here. In fairness, this is the author’s first short story (and she’s young, described as a ‘military kid’ by the editors), and so we can’t expect too much. She clearly has imaginative ideas which I would like to see further developed, but I personally would not have included this tale (in its current form) in the first issue of a literary magazine.
- Fathom – J.S. Rogers. 3/5. This story, unfortunately, fails to produce a massively compelling plot – both in terms of originality and tension. The story itself revolves around a crew who (in a submarine) dive through the waters of a previously unexplored planet to look for anything interesting. The subsequent pages present us with an obvious narrative, once again the lack of character development failing to make me care about much of what is going on. Yes, I’d be terrified in that situation but I just didn’t feel like I could identify with any of the cast.
It’s weird to see a mixture of hits and misses in this publication coming from some a variety of authors. I would suggest a more selective approach to including stories in the next issues, and perhaps viewing the works of authors separately from the author themselves (and their potential accolades/ histories).
Aside from the short stories themselves, there are also two interviews (with Anna Smith Spark and Adrian Tchaikovsky) and two reviews (The Tower of Living and Dying, and The Mere Wife). I found all of these pieces to be excellently written and edited, and hope that this split between fiction and non-fiction appears in later issues. I would also enjoy seeing more interviews (maybe instead of or alongside reviews) as these are harder to come by outside of select groups.
I feel like the 4/5 for the first issue of Three Crows Magazine is well deserved and with the publication all the best in the future. I will be reading future issues when they are released, but I hope that the editing team become a bit more picky with which stories they publish – the 3/5 reads here aren’t amazing and it is the strength of the non-fiction and higher-rated fiction which brings the average up to a 4.
The cover illustration is from the Three Crows Magazine, created by Cze Peku (https://www.artstation.com/czepeku). Check out the creator’s other great pieces!