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I can't recommend this 'zine highly enough to anyone who enjoys universes where men are men, women are women, magic is real, and evil sorcerers and alien menaces always receive their laser-powered just desserts. Traditional SF pulp is undergoing a revival, and Cirsova leads the way with seven deliciously pulpy stories and one epic poem, featuring ERB's inimitable John Carter, to boot. Hie thee hence, and buy!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 11, 2017
These stories harken back to a time where magazines like Amazing Stories, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s, etc. were actually what people would pick up to find exciting, fresh adventure stories. I’ll briefly go over each story, then a summary:
To Cirsova Issue #6!
“The Last Job on Harz” by Tyler Young
I”m already calling this the novelette of the year for 2017. A trilling adventure about two investigators sent to a world who have to deal with high tension corporate intrigue and strange genetically manipulated monsters. Great way to open the issue.
“Death on the Moon”, by Spencer Hart
The issue continues with investigators in a noir-style tale on the moon. It didn’t go full noir, but had a lot of that feeling, including some of the dialogue. I didn’t dislike it, but wasn’t as in love with this as I was the opening tale. A style thing that this may appeal to other folk more.
“The Battlefield of Keres” by Jim Breyfogle
Maybe my favorite short story of the issue. This had two very interesting protagonists on a hunt to go thieve a magical helm from an ancient battlefield. I’d gladly read more in this universe.
“Othan, Vandal”, by Kurt Magnus
Othan goes to steal a talisman from a tribe in order to pay off his debts, and find there’s more than meets the eye here. I particularly liked the character and this may be my second favorite short of the issue. Its ending was very satisfying to read as well.
“Temple of the Beast”, by Hal Thompson
Academics go out to find a legendary beast in an Indiana Jones-style adventure here. Solid work, pretty straight-forward.
“Tear Down the Stars”, by Adrian Cole
A nice follow up in Adrian Cole’s universe, probably the most developed of the stories worldbuilding wise because of the continuation. I’m not sure if this is direct from issue #2 or if there was one in between, but it was pleasant seeing the characters again. I think the original story had a bit more to it on the action thrill side, but this had a better concept, so it balanced out. Totally readable without the prior story, and was happy to see this world again.
“Magelords of Ruach”, by Abraham Strongjohn
This was another continuation story, which is supposed to be a trilogy of stories. It definitely had a Burroughs-esque feel to it with Martians fighting Neptunians and trying to escape from their world. I think I would have done better to have read the first story first, but still a fun ride after I settled into what was going on in the story.
My Name is John Carter, by James Hutchings
Continues the epic poem in honor of the classic series. If you’ve read past issues of the mag, you’ve seen this and it brings a smile to the face every time.
Overall, I’ve now read 4 issues of Cirsova: 1-2, 5-6. It’s obviously far and away the best science fiction magazine out there right now. It’s fun adventure 100%, and never wavers or apologizes for that. While I enjoyed issue 5, I wasn’t quite as into the dark Lovecraftian theme that the issue presented, even though they did a very different take than I see most people do when exploring that framework. This issue I devoured, it hit all the sweet spots. As I stated above, there was no bad story in the mix, just ones I liked more than others and probably just due to personal taste.
Frankly, this issue alone deserves to win a Hugo Award if best stories are the sole consideration. Cirsova has knocked it out of the park with perhaps their best issue to date.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 9, 2018
Issue #6 closes off Cirsova's 2017 output with another strong entry. The first three stories in particular had me reeling. The Last Job on Harz and Death on the Moon are detective stories in space and The Battlefield of Keres is a fantasy adventure with a horror bent. The issue is worth the price for these three stories alone. They had me hooked from start to to finish and were exactly the type of tales I come to Cirsova for.
But that isn't to sell the remaining stories short. Every one of these is strong. Kurt Magus returns with another exciting Othan story and Harold. R. Thompson gives up Temple of the Beast, an adventure story with a deadly creature and a heartbreaking betrayal. And this issue even includes another Adrian Cole "Dream Lords" tale which, as you can imagine, is incredible on its own. This issue is a bounty of riches.
#6 concludes with another delicious entry in James Hutchings' My Name is John Carter epic poetry piece and a second novelette. The novelette is another delight from Abraham Strongjohn, the long awaited sequel to his story At the Feet of Neptune's Queen from issue one. This is a perfect piece to end on, coming full circle from where it started in the first release. This one was thrilling from start to finish.
Actually, the whole issue was.
Issue #6 was a pure delight from page 1 with various different styles of action tales that kept me entertained. As a whole, this is the best issue of Cirsova so far. Every story was as good as the last and is as great the magazine gets. Were you to pick up one issue of the lot, I would suggest this one.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 1, 2017
This is the best issue yet! Anytime I buy a magazine like this, I always assume about half the stories won't interest me; but in the case of Cirsova #6, I read it cover to cover. I literally couldn't put it down. Each issue of Cirsova has gotten a bit better than the last one, and this one hits it out of the ballpark. It's a bargain at the cover price if you like good old-fashioned pulp writing!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 3, 2017
The sixth issue of Cirsova contains stories of multiple genres, but they are all united by being great stories. If you want great pulpy stories that remind of the best of the past, get every issue of Cirsova! What makes Cirsova great is the combination of genres, from sci-fi to fantasy to a strange mix of the two.
All the stories are great and wonderful reads. If you want the best in action-packed short fiction, get your hands on Cirsova!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 1, 2017
Cirsova magazine continues to impress with a solid cross-section of heroic science fiction & fantasy stories. The stories borrow a "pulp" style, without necessarily reading like a story from the a 1930s magazine. These are modern, fun stories by some very talented authors (although "At the Feet of Neptune's Queen," by Abraham Strongjohn, really does read like a story from vintage Planet Stories, and it's wonderful that way...)