by Jude-Marie Green
I’ve known Jude-Marie (Kelly) Green for a long time, ever since I bought one of her stories and she misheard the name of our magazine as Abyssinian Pets. And I am a fan of her work. She was also one of Abyss & Apex’s hard-working editors for many years. So when she asked if I’d review her short story collection, I jumped at the chance. She’s a prolific writer, and I’d read four of these before but the rest were new to me. Score!
She starts the collection with “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Glass.” This is a piece of flash fiction where soldiers can be made of glass, and it’s not as fragile a state as you might think.
“Glorious Madness” is a feminist ode to Don Quixote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, only here they are the mad swordswoman Donna Quick and magician sidekick, Jane Smith. Instead of horses they ride motorcycles. After a goodly adventure the story ends with them off to tilt at some decidedly modern windmills.
I loved “Endless Summer”—one of the stories I’d read before—where the beautifully depicted story opens with an alien named Kim and his friends on a beach. He’s looking for things that fly: specifically a spaceship that will eventually come to snatch him back home, where he’s in trouble for setting down on earth because he loves beach music, the music of the surfers. It’s set in a magic world of southern California subculture, and you won’t want to miss this one.
Next is an odd story, “Hellbend For Leather.” A demon’s brother lives in our world and occasionally goes back to Hell to provide entertainment. He’s called back to get rid of some salamanders that he’d left in the River Charon; they’ve multiplied and are causing all sorts of havoc. He enlists the help of a crocodile hunter, and when he cannot afford her fee, he suggests she can take some of the salamanders as payment. Their leather hides are fireproof. She agrees, but not for the reason he thinks. The hijinks in hell involve part of it freezing over, and learning how to get past Cerberus by scratching his ears just right. Very entertaining.
The short, slipstreamy tale, “The Color Of Infinity” is all about an alien gate that tries to suck in bystanders and change them into colors. It absorbs a mousy young woman and a cerebral college student, but meets its match on an elementary school playground.
In the next story a character named Selina has a dream lover who seems incredibly real in “Orthogonal To The Astral Plane.” She started finding him in her bed after visiting a New Age shop with a friend and he disappearEd every morning, insisting she will never remember him. But she does. Does it have anything to do with the “special” tea she bought at that shop, or the fortune teller who was there? Then another man, blurred and shadowy, starts stalking her in the daytime. The answers are perhaps back at that shop if she can get her best friend to give her the address. The answer to the mystery hangs on a simple name.
“Miracles Wrought Before Your Eyes” shows Jude-Marie Green’s love of the performing arts, animals, and her deep insight into creative souls. Here, in the longest piece in the collection, we meet an angel named Alice who has an appointment with her brother Hugh, a fallen angel, to hold him to account for the evil he has done. He performs tainted miracles and has a grip on a bewildered, downtrodden but talented circus troupe. She does what she can to erase the harm he’s done and confronts him. It doesn’t go entirely the way she’d hoped.
No doubt inspired by TV shows like Deadlist Catch, in “Far, Far From Land” the sea is our solar system, and the waves are solar storms. The catch is mandelbrots and fractals that are eaten as exotic delicacies on Earth, and meteors can be a hazard. It’s another of the tales of love lost and found that Green does so well, and is very satisfying.
“Quantum Rose” tells of a physicist-turned-pirate, a mother of three boys who has pulled them out of the mundane with a gadget that can send them anywhere, anytime. She chooses a pirate’s life of adventure for herself and her young sons. Readers get to decide for themselves if she’s actually accomplished this or it’s just her daydream at a mall.
A future female doctor debates life, death, and her spouse’s incurable cancer in “A 3% Chance He’ll Ever Know I Lied.” In her time they can bring the dead back, some of the time, with a simple syringe. She’ll have to administer it. Her spouse could die at any time yet the doctor is called away by inescapable professional duties. She always shares her nightly dreams with him and keeps a record of them while she’s away. The dreams in this story are full of allegory and symbolism. It’s a fascinating story with a sad ending.
A haunted amusement park is the main feature in “The Lay Of The Land,” where a security guard and her dog are settling in on their first night as watchmen. A fine little tale.
Possibly my favorite story in the collection is “Luigi’s Song, ” which tells of a girl who can hear and speak to whales, dolphins, and some other types of fish. The author and I once talked about writing stories about why whales beached themselves. This is hers. And it’s magical.
“In The Season Of Blue Storms” is the story of Green’s that I published, and it’s still a delightful favorite. The premise? Sentient storms on an exoplanet with Jovian weather are being observed by a company that intends to mine the planet unless there is some sort of indigenous life. The point of view bounces back and forth between the fascinating lives and loves of two of the storms and two human lovers on the spaceship, one of whom is an exobiologist. While the storms deal with something akin to their planet’s almost god-like Red Spot, will the exobiologist discover the living storms before it’s too late?
The last story, “Jasmine Spain,” is a fitting end to a collection full of strong adventurous women. Here we see an older one, whose adventures are not over. Not quite yet!
It says something about Jude-Marie Green’s skill as a writer that I didn’t want the collection to end.