- “Bargains by the Slant-light” by Cassandra Khaw (fantasy short story)
- “The Standard of Ur” by Hassan Abdulrazzak (fantasy short story)
- “With Lips Sewn Shut” by Kristi DeMeester (fantasy short story)
“Bargains” is an overwritten and talky flash piece in which a woman is having trouble with love and makes a deal with an atypical Devil to have her torso cut open and her heart slowly replaced. Some horror fans not put off by the excess verbiage and lack of action may find something here. “Sewn” is another “oppressed women/evil men” tale in which a (perhaps inadvertently) ambiguous mother both sews the daughter’s lips shut and works for her freedom while the evil brothers are also temporarily drafted until they become talking, free, happy, evil animal-men and chase the fleeing sister through the woods, which chase has at least one botched element which interfered with any even visceral excitement it may have had. “Standard” is a mishmash of tenses and POVs, not to mention probably a mishmash of science fiction and fantasy. In 2103, Iraqis have been brain-chipped to suppress sectarian hatred (damn specific chip, there). A blonde British boy arrives to decide whether Iraq is stable enough to merit the return of an ancient Sumerian artifact. The opening is interesting enough but, if it’s an SF story with a psychological twist, some things don’t work and, if the end is fantastic, it’s even more absurd. Despite that, it feels like it’s supposed to be a supernatural fantasy and, even if not, it’s certainly an unsophisticated “postcolonial” revenge fantasy.