Shimmer 13 Cover

Shimmer 13

Issue 13: Now Available

Shimmer is back with another gorgeous, heartbreaking issue.

If you grabbed a copy of issue 12, you already know the kind of wonderful stories we publish. But if you’re here for the first time, let me tell you what some people have been saying about Shimmer:

The Fantastic Reviews Blog calls Shimmer “…one of the best (and best looking) semiprozines in the market.” Lois Tilton of Locus Magazine says our stories are “…generally quite short, with a prevailing aura of strangeness.”

We publish a wide range of authors, from those you already know and love, like Jay Lake and Ken Scholes, to the rising stars like M. K. Hobson, Aliette de Bodard, and Angela Slatter, to the new authors you don’t know you love yet, like K. M. Ferebee and Ferrett Steinmetz.

Issue 12 contains wonders and marvels, from L. L. Hannett’s tale of selkie rumors in a fishing town, to Georgina Bruce’s devastating “Dogs.” We’ve got a sentient snowperson’s obsession, a hill that talks and loves, and our very first story written by a giant squid.

At just over 100 pages, the print edition is slim and sturdy enough to carry with you to read anywhere. Shimmer’s one of the best-looking magazines out there: glossy covers, lovely illustrations, and perfect-bound (just like a paperback book). Or get the PDF edition if you prefer to read in DRM-free digital form.

It’s friggin’ awesome.

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Table of Contents

Bullet Oracle Instinct, by K. M. Ferebee

Martin had never learned to predict which windows were concealing snipers. The others had a way, a sixth sense of finding this out. They called it the bullet oracle instinct. Late at night after a few too many gin and tonics one of them would point to a certain window and say, Watch for that one. Days later the pane would be shattered, the eye of a bullet hole radiating lines of splintered glass. In his spare time, Martin worked on a mathematical equation to determine which window would be the next to go. This is what they did, early humans, he thought. The ones who had no instinct evolved math to make up for it. I am the next wave of genius, he thought. I am a pioneer. But secretly, Martin was afraid that when everything was said and done he lacked the Stuff. The others said, You’ve either got the Stuff or you don’t. As though if you X-rayed someone, there’d be this space inside of them, this suitcase-shaped space where the Stuff would or wouldn’t be. What would it look like, he wondered, this Stuff? As though God had folded the survival instinct up like shirts and slacks and sheets and packed it in the suitcase and sent the suitcase traveling.

Martin shared a hotel room with a photographer named Wednesday. Wednesday was the skinniest person Martin had ever seen. Only the multiple black boxes of cameras strapped across his shoulders kept him from being tossed like a scrap of paper through the bombed-out streets. Martin was in awe of Wednesday. This awe in part stemmed from the way Wednesday dressed, black sleeves rolled above bony wrists, black fedora perched on his head, no matter Shimmer how violent the war became. In part, the awe stemmed from the way Wednesday talked, lucidly, poetically, about the nature of war. The bullet oracle instinct isn’t a thing you’re born with, Wednesday said. It’s a thing you grow. We all have our own personal sniper and when the sniper gets too close, you can feel him breathing at the back of your neck. That’s when the bullet oracle instinct starts rising.

What do you mean, our own personal sniper, Martin said, and Wednesday said, You know what I mean. You see his face just before you wake up. For about half a second, when you’re scared as hell that someone’s got you by the throat with both hands and won’t let you breathe.

A dream.

Maybe.

I don’t dream, Martin said.

No. I suppose you work on your equation instead.

Labrusca Cognatus, by Erik T. Johnson

My father spent his life trying to commit suicide in various unconventional ways in the belief that certain specific forms of death would lead to corresponding reincarnations. He was often unsuccessful. It was his goal to be reborn as a king whose dominion knew no boundaries, physical or otherwise. After his rebirth, upon growing up and being crowned, he would reach across time and space for his family, allowing them to enjoy the riches he had reaped through his carefully executed self-sacrifice. The only price, so my father reasoned, was that it would take a full lifetime to be reborn and grow up to be king in the other dimension, and so his child and wife would not know him after his death in this life. But it was a small price, for soon enough they would be royalty elsewhere in the universe.

Gutted, by L. L. Hannett

Erl doesn’t believe in selkies.

The only skins women in his village discard are covered in scales, separated from juicy white flesh at the points of their gutting knives. Twice a day, fisherwives make short work of the fleet’s catch. Dawn and dusk see them straddling mermaids’ torsos, cleaning plump tails with efficient, intuitive slices. Thigh-length fillets slap into piles on the jetty while bloodless heads, grey shoulders and breasts splash back into the ocean. Waters churn as surviving merfolk wrestle to feed on the scraps.

Around here, seals are a rare sight.

Frosty’s Lament, by Richard Larson

I know the feeling of his hands on me, shaping me, and this is what I think about when he’s not around: that he loves me. That our love is real.

As real as me.

He created me with love: a secret kind of love, but it was love all the same. I know this because he told me, his hands all over me and packing me in, adding to the parts of me that were already there. He told me that he loved me more than anything else in the world because I would be there for as long as he wanted me to be.

“Or at least until springtime,” he said.

All the Lonely People, by E. C. Myers

I found the woman in the last train car; her kind is usually drawn to the edges of things, wherever they can be alone, wherever they can go unnoticed. She was reading a poster on the back wall, both hands gripping the seatbacks on either side of the aisle as if they were holding her up. I could see through her to the poster, an ad for classes at some community college.

She was a fader.

That’s what I call them, those caught in that limbo that claims more and more people every day. I don’t know what that makes those of us who can see them. I assume there are others like me, but it’s not like I got a membership card and a list of instructions the day I discovered my ability. No one told me what it’s for.

Haniver, by J. J. Irwin

I am young, barely tall enough to peer over his workbench, and everything I speak is a question. What are we? Who am I? I am learning to use my voice, and it makes Vic smile.

Back in the sixteenth century, sailors would come home with the desiccated corpses of angels, dragons, demons. All fakes, of course — skates and rays carved into fantastical shapes, tweaked and lacquered to ersatz antiquity. They called them jenny hanivers, these meticulous recreations of creatures that never lived in this world, never left a corpse. They were tangible proof of that other land beyond the sea. The land of monsters and wonders and men with heads below their shoulders.

These are the tales Vic tells me as he works in the lab. We are his hanivers, his flights of fancy made flesh.

Dogs, by Georgina Bruce

I pull myself up onto the bed, and at once there are tendrils of ivy and flowering vine growing out from the floral bedspread. They twine around my wrists and ankles and across my forehead and throat. A woody thicket grows around me and weaves me into its center. I’m spiked all over by thorns, like in an iron maiden; a rose maiden, pricked to bleeding. Red roses bloom under my eyes, over my stomach.

I can hear, beyond my thorny prison, the sound of a chainsaw buzzing, and then you lift the tangled bushes away, leaving thorns spearing my eyes and my lips, and you lie down on top of me, your whole body over mine, and your nose touching my nose, your long hair hanging around my face.

You look the same, but you smell different. The tang of blood is on you. You kiss my neck, and the velvet roses drop their petals around us. You push your penis into my hand. It is like a licked bone. It slicks through my fist, and you breathe hard in my face. A tremendous heat radiates from us; a jungle shoots up around us, bright green, obliterating the winter garden.

Barstone, by Stephen Case

Barstone hadn’t always been a hill in the park. He hadn’t always waited under his cloak of dirt. Once he stood like a man, walked about even, probably ran and talked. Not that he didn’t talk now.

“Tone,” I would ask him. I would stand at his shoulder where the grass always grew a bit longer because the mower could never quite get that dip between his shoulder and neck. You wouldn’t know it was a shoulder and neck though. You had to look at it right. “Tone,” I would ask, “why don’t you get up? How long are you going to let these plants and this dirt work their way up over you?”

A Window, Clear as a Mirror, by Ferrett Steinmetz

Malcolm Gebrowski returned from his job at the stamp factory to discover his wife had left him for a magic portal. He stared numbly at the linoleum floor of his apartment’s walk-in kitchen, all scuffed up with hoofprints, the smell of lilacs gradually being overpowered by the mildewy stink of the paper plant next door. All that was left of eight years of marriage was a scribbled note on the back of the telephone bill.

Four Household Tales, by Poor Mojo’s Giant Squid

A Master and Student on the Muddy Road Once upon a time there did travel two monks: a wise Giant Squid and his student, Abram Lincoln. Long did the two wander throughout the lands, delivering to the common folk such limited enlightenment as might pass through meager human sensory faculties to sear itself into the spongy grey matter stifled in their shallow brain pans.

One day the Squid and his student came upon a broad and swift river. Where the watercourse had once been straddled by a bridge, there remained only a crumbling abutment. Upon the old stone foundation of the washed-out crossing stood a crestfallen maiden, most beautiful and supple of skin, with exceptionally large breasts ill-concealed by her simple silken négligée, a rear as symmetrical as the twin hemispheres of an atomic device’s uranium core, and a pair of wonderful iron boots which might crush to dust any foe who had the ill luck to inflame her wrath. She wept as she paced, wondering aloud how she would ever cross the river.

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