The Spring 2008 edition of the British Fantasy Society's biannual publication contains the usual predominance of short stories flavoured with poems and articles (in this instance, just one article; a long interview with Charles de Lint by Jan Edwards). The cover design is by Dan Skinner, and there is a stand-alone illustration: 'More Tea?' by Chris Bell.
I can't say I'm a poetry fan but the contrast they provide with the prose adds to the interest. This time, one of them is traditional: 'The Twa Corbies' (for which a translation of words from Scots is helpfully provided). Most of the others are short and enigmatic; 'A Dinner Party' by Marion Pitman; 'Road To My Soul' by Laura Willis; and 'Pain in Every Measure' by Jo Fletcher; the exception being 'Walt Whitman Did It For Me, And Continues To Do It' by Robert Holdstock, a homage to the famous poet.
So to the short stories:
The Gentleman Assassin by Richard Hudson: a playful tale of a fictional assassin, told from the perspective of his creator.
Star-Changer by Rebecca Lusher (winner of the 2007 BFS Short Story Competition): trainee shape-changers undergo their first ritual test.
Behind the Curtain by Joel Lane: a willing vampire victim in a sordid future.
Withered by Meaghan Hope: an intriguing premise – a woman wakes with no memory of who she is, but realises that she is not human – ends abruptly, as if the first few pages had been extracted from a novel.
Flies by Jim Steel: an ironic tale describing the life of a group of early hominims who are conscious of their evolutionary status and govern their lives using modern management concepts and jargon. It reminded me of a story I read long ago (author and title forgotten), in which hominim mothers were wont to yell at crawling children; "Get up on your legs and walk – you want to undo millions of years of evolution?"
The Bequest by David A Riley: a supernatural horror story of demonic possession in a mundane contemporary family.
Keep off the Grass by Sally Quilford (runner-up in the 2007 BFS Short Story Competition): yet another dystopian future, a Britain run by robots among which the few surviving humans scavenge.
A varied mix of tales. The one which caught my attention most was Withered; I find that kind of plot appealing, and if Meaghan Hope ever extends it into a novel I'll be joining the queue to buy it.