9:3: “Moondance”, by Mikal Trimm...

Moon near-full, they dance beneath the gibbous light.
Babes enshrouded, mothers run amock,
Fathers ensconced in firelight sunheat,
My sisters straining at their diaphanous virginities,
And I, I, I
Beat the drum, thrum-thrum, thrum-thrum.
Humpback moon, no power there,
But still the parents dance and scream
While children dodge beneath their feet.
Some miss the beat, are trampled underneath.
And I, I, I
Beat the drum, thrum-thrum, thrum-thrum.
A lustful thrust, not yet, not yet,
And sisters-mothers-fathers-grands
Run rampant through the standing stones.
The children hide in shadows, crouch in fox-dens.
And I, I, I
Beat the drum, thrum-thrum, thrum-thrum.
Two nights before the Solstice,
Two nights before the sacred Moon is full.
Power upon power, magic upon magic.
Nights of blood and hope and abandon.
And I, I, I
Beat the drum, thrum-thrum, thrum-thrum.
Mother writhes naked in the bitter light.
My sisters woo me, come away, away from the drum, child,
We know a deeper, stronger beat.
Father unveils infants and measures sacrifices.
And I
Beat the drum.

Mikal Trimm writes short stories and poetry. Lots of them end up in places where they’re read by others. What more could he want? He says:

There’s a Van Morrison song called “Moondance”, where he says what a great night for love it is, under that nice shiny moon and all. Other things happen under the pale moonlight, though. Bad things. Not sure if Van would deign to sing about them, but I’m more than happy to do the job — I don’t have to hit the high notes when I’m writing…

6:2: “Acteon, Before The Kill”, by Mikal Trimm...

A Goddess, yes—her nakedness a sight
Forbidden to all mortal men—I know
These things. Forgive me if I seem a bit
Annoyed. It’s not as if I go about
The woods to spy on Huntresses at bath.
I hunt as well, you know; and I have seen
My share of lovely girls, disheveled all.
Admittedly, they do not measure up
To Godhood all unhooded, nor did they
Exude the sweet and heady musk of that
Nymph-groomed Olympian. I still recall
The spotless sun-drenched canvas of her skin,
The gentle swell of rose-tipped breasts, the dark
Inviting tangle of—enough! The view,
As views are ranked, was paramount. Agreed.
But I was not a spy! I did not go,
Bedecked in hunting garb and finely armed,
Into the forest looking for a thrill—
Unless said thrill could later be displayed
Upon my trophy-wall, or possibly
Be roasted on a spit and served for lunch.
I hunt. She hunts. We would have made a pair,
Two beings with a common goal, blessed with
Uncommon aim. If she had only been
In proper dress, we could have traded tales
Of hunts magnificent, of kills sublime,
Of bows and dogs and all the hunt entails.
Instead, I caught a single glance of flesh
And Artemis, Eternal Virgin she,
Took umbrage at my presence—frigid wench!—
And changed hunter to prey, bold man to stag.
Abandoned in Her forest, I curse Fate
And tremble at the baying of my hounds…

Mikal Trimm is the only person of his name in the U.S.—he’s checked it out. He also writes short stories and poems, and sells them more often than not. (He’s checked that, too.) Unless he has a doppleganger, more of his work can be found (or will be found, which opens up the whole space-time continuum thing) in venues including Weird Tales, Black Gate, Strange Horizons, Interfictions, and Electric Velocipede. Depending on your time zone.

I love mythology. Period. I also assume all those I know not only love mythology, but are conversant in every little tidbit of ancient history. Sadly, this is not always the fact.

But there is a story in Greek mythology about a great hunter who accidentally saw a Goddess bathing, and I’ve always thought that the punishment was a bit, um, over the top….

5:2: “Galahad, On The Eve Of The Quest”, by Mikal Trimm...

He held the future in his hand,
Alone against the vast Abyss,
And prayed to find a better man.

He railed against the dark demand
Of martyrdom, of Death’s dark bliss –
He held the future in his hand.

Not his, the fault, not his, the plan,
Not his! He wept, sought emptiness,
And prayed to find a better man.

The Holy cup lay in this land,
And were the Knights not born for this?
He held the future in his hand.

Lord, give me strength! I understand
That even Moses felt remiss
And prayed to find a better man!

Yet he received no reprimand
Of all his doubt-born bitterness –
He held the future in his hand
And prayed to find a better man.

Mikal Trimm has sold his speculative fiction and poetry to numerous venues. He currently resides in a little town outside of Austin, Texas, where he dreams of residual checks….

This poem came from the challenge of writing a villanelle (a strictly-defined poetic form using repeating lines throughout the piece) and an unshakeable fascination with the various elements of the Arthurian legend. This is the first (and possibly last…) attempt at the form I ever attempted.

Review: Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, reviewed by Mikal Trimm...

British, 2002, 105 min. – Rated R
Writer/Director: Neil Marshall
Starring Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, and others.

There seems to be a slow (read: glacial) realization going on in the collective hive-mind of horror directors. After years of dreadfully over-the-top gore-fests, endless sequels to movies that should never have been filmed in the first place, and enough dead teens to fill Forest Lawn, a few young upstarts over the last few years have rediscovered some of the basic tenets of the Good Horror Movie:

1) It doesn’t take a big budget to create big chills

2) CGI is not the Holy Grail of monster creation

3) Just because you don’t have big stars doesn’t mean you won’t be noticed, and

4) It’s the thing that isn’t seen that really scares the crap out of people

Thus we have horror movies that worm their way into the public consciousness every now and then: The Blair Witch Project, Ringu, May, Ginger Snaps, 28 Days Later…. This is not to say that these movies are not without their problems, and I’m not sure I’d even consider them classics of the genre. But they DO get reviewed by even the most Genre-Deprived critics, usually in glowing terms, and more importantly, they get seen. By fairly large numbers of audience-goers — ones who previously thought the ultimate bogey came equipped with a standard-issue goalie’s mask — or possibly a bladed glove.

Neil Marshall not only took the GHM lessons to heart, but he found a way around the flaws that usually bedevil a neophyte director’s first foray into the darkness. Dog Soldiers is a stunning start to a (hopefully) long career in the movies. Dark, nasty, clever movies with very sharp teeth, if we’re lucky.

After a small teaser of an opening, the movie gives us Cooper (Kevin McKidd), a soldier being tested for the Special Forces, and Ryan, the officer who has the final say about his qualifications. Cooper fails, not because he doesn’t have the chops to play with the Big Boys, but because, in a tense scene of mental brutality, it turns out he has just a bit too much humanity about him to pass the final hurdle — he won’t shoot a dog.

When we next see Cooper, he’s on a training mission in the Scottish Highlands with a squad of typical grunts, led by Wells (played wonderfully by Sean Pertwee). During their maneuvers, they stumble across the bloody remains of a Special Forces unit, all dead but for its commander — Ryan, the homicidal bastard from Cooper’s testing.

And then all Hell breaks loose.

Oh. Did I mention the werewolves? Yes, this is a werewolf movie, certainly the best one since the eighties, when An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and The Wolfen all vied for the honors of “Best Treatment Of A Lycanthrope In Film.” Ultimately, they each failed (to a greater or lesser degree, depending on your frame of mind): The first two because they were too campy to be truly spooky, and The Wolfen because it tried too hard to recreate werewolves as a sentient race of uber-wolves, rather than true shape shifters. Dog Soldiers evades the failings of the earlier movies by shifting the focus — to paraphrase the director, they didn’t make a werewolf movie with soldiers in it, they made a soldier movie with werewolves in it.

This seemingly minor shift in point-of-view pays off in spades. The first squad-member to die, for example, doesn’t fall under the hands (well, paws) of the enemy; instead, he panics when his rifle jams, and instead of following his training — clear the jam, keep your head, continue firing — he turns and runs blindly into the forest, only to impale himself on a broken branch. Death comes, not from the supernatural powers of the werewolves, but the all-too-plausible failings of the untested soldier. He forgot his training, and paid for it with his life.

It’s that military-minded attitude that keeps this movie tightly-focused. When the men need to split ranks in order to better ensure their group survival, it usually comes at the likely cost of individual life. Too bad, soldier. This is the Army. And the actors play the parts with just that mentality, that commitment to duty. The individual is nothing. The squad lives on.

The werewolves are not CGI. They are guys in masks, products of some makeup man’s tireless work. Which is exactly as it should be, because when they finally appear, they never overwhelm the essential story with the ‘ooh, aah’ complications of a grand special effect. They look real enough that you don’t start counting the stitches in the seams, but they don’t look so amazing that you are taken out of the story by their presence. They exist.

Which is the whole point of horror in the first place. To convince you that the legends are true….

I’ve made this comment elsewhere, and I’ll repeat it here: Dog Soldiers does for werewolf movies what Near Dark did for vampire movies. It makes us reinvent a standard trope in our own minds, and it forces us to readjust our conceptions of what we consider a werewolf movie to be.

Editor’s Note: Vol. 3, Issue 1...

January. Out with the old, in with the new. Time to recover from the giddy festivities that define the end of the old year; time to break resolutions in record time and revive the dearly-held bad habits that caused us to make those same resolutions in the first place.

More importantly (although I’ll admit I’m a bit biased), time for a new issue of Ideomancer. My issue. That’s right, the slave has become master, the inmates have taken over the asylum, the proletariat revolts, baby! This issue is mine, all mine, and —

Sorry. For a moment the power became too much…

Still, we are playing around with the springs and gears that make Ideomancer tick, and I have endeavored to give some hint of what’s to come — my own personal take on the magazine and the type of story we try to present. There will be other, different views as the year slides away from us, but I get to be first. Heh-heh.

Consider yourselves forewarned.

Rob Hunter dazzles us with the inner workings of a unique mind in “The Nine-Patch Variation”, Samantha Henderson sinks her irony-coated claws into “The Legend Of St. Ignatz The Provider”, Greg van Eekhout graces us with a reprint of his poignant fantasy “Wolves Till The World Goes Down”, and Jay Lake, in the first of a series, performs janitorial duty with his take on “January.” And there’s even a movie review for those of you who are despairing of finding good genre fare in the cinematic realm.

Enjoy! (That was a command, not a suggestion…)

Mikal Trimm

I‘ll just slot my comments under a ton of megalomania. 2004 brings Ideomancer into its third year in this format and we are again endeavoring to progress the magazine through the coming twelve months. Each editor will add their voice to the magazine as we bring you more original fiction — gone are the classics this year.

We continue our Featured Author slot and welcome Greg van Eekhout as the first of the New Year.

Our guidelines have changed slightly again — we are now introducing reading periods — and as a consequence will be closed to submissions through January. I would also like to welcome Meredith L. Patterson and Lori Ann White to the editorial staff.

Hope you enjoy this month’s issue
Chris Clarke

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