Pulp Kings #3
Litzine, edited by IB, 61 pgs, Stray Books Ltd., straybooks.ca, $11.99
It takes a lot of effort and grace to express subtle themes amidst the bustling worlds and elaborate backdrops typical of science fiction. Highly skilled prose that also demonstrates its intended themes is a rare two out of two. The four contributors in the third issue of previous Zine Awards finalist Pulp Kings achieves just that feat. Each contribution to this compilation zine offers a unique world where the authors tackle a unifying theme: love.
The opening story is tender, exploring the challenge of accepting difficult pasts, all against a sci-fi backdrop. Subsequent stories are each their own masterclass in satire. One depicts a scene of alien warp dating, transplanting the comedy of modern romance into another dimension with gonzo dialogue and non-stop hilarity. The other would be lightly absurdist if we weren’t so familiar with the subject. In it, an unthinkable presidential candidate rises to power — a literal sentient tanning bed. Alternate futures and alien concepts, of course, fit perfectly in our present reality too. The final entry is a time travel tale that tackles lover’s regret. The character’s second-guessing nature defies her attempts make peace with her past, Pulp Kings #3 is easily a standout collection that not only uses the sci-fi premise to encourage introspection in the here and now — it also encourages a return for the next issue.