May 2, 2015

Terra Mystica, Asimov's 1979 (Part 2), Success Comes to Cow Creek


I hated Terra Mystica.  Hated it.  Also, I was very bad at Terra Mystica.  And while these two forces fought to send my psyche into a nigh-infinite hate spiral every time we played, practice and patience won out.

Like a book that changes how you read, Terra Mystica is a great game to changes how you approach board games.   It is not one I would recommend for those who find games like Agricola and Caverna overly saturated with complexity.  However, if you are looking for a board with a tinge more depth and focus, this is it.  One of the heavier games we own, it did take an embarrassing amount of time for me 'get' this game.   CJ was a pro by the second round and enjoyed it from the first play.

We did pick up the Fire and Ice expansion right away and did not regret it.  The extra maps and factions are an excellent way to keep refreshing the look and feel.   Speaking of looks and feels, this game has it.  The pieces are solid, the art is detailed, and it organizes back in the baggies and box really well.  This game still frustrates the heck out of me at times, however every play has been incredibly satisfying.

*

Frederick Longbeard's A Time for Terror has gone some small way in restoring my faith in the first person POV.  A thoughtful, well-paced piece to open up Asimov's March issue; segregation, identity, and place are all in the backbone, however never at the detriment of moving the story forward.
  
Someone Else's House is my favorite of the issue and so far of the year.  The reader is genuinely led around, questioning the identity and mental stability of the protagonist.  A little haunting, belaboring no point, fingers crossed I see additional Lee Chisholm in stories to come.

Every once in a while I run into an issue like April's.  When all is said and done, through maybe no fault of the authors, editors, or reader, I am left with a 'meh' taste stuck on my tongue after flipping through the pages.  The stars did not align over this one for whatever reason, however May made up for it in a few ways.

A delightful short, smack dab in the middle of the magazine, K.J. Snow's Slush traces science fiction's often prophetic origins and finds they may be otherworldly...?

Prime Crime by Milton Rothman definitely takes up more pages than the previous story, however does not abuse the privilege.  A thief turned possible terrorist, is jeopardizing the safety of every citizen on an orbiting station and few are in a position to stop a possible catastrophe.

George Alec Effinger throws a few aging science fiction writers back in time in The Pinch-Hitters.  The stranded egos, inserted into the bodies of famous baseball players of 1954 must meet up and find a way back home.  Overall, a great issue.

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Success Comes to Cow Creek
by James Tate

 I sit on the tracks,
a hundred feet from
earth, fifty from the
water. Gerald is
inching toward me
as grim, slow, and
determined as a
season, because he
has no trade and wants
none. It’s been nine months
since I last listened
to his fate, but I
know what he will say:
he’s the fire hydrant
of the underdog.

When he reaches my
point above the creek,
he sits down without
salutation, and
spits profoundly out
past the edge, and peeks
for meaning in the
ripple it brings. He
scowls. He speaks: when you
walk down any street
you see nothing but
coagulations
of shit and vomit,
and I’m sick of it.
I suggest suicide;
he prefers murder,
and spits again for
the sake of all the
great devout losers.

A conductor’s horn
concerto breaks the
air, and we, two doomed
pennies on the track,
shove off and somersault
like anesthetized
fleas, ruffling the
ideal locomotive
poised on the water
with our light, dry bodies.
Gerald shouts
terrifically as
he sails downstream like
a young man with a
destination. I
swim toward shore as
fast as my boots will
allow; as always,
neglecting to drown.