The second story in the first issue of the second volume of the first rate magazine Cirsova once more takes us to a remote corner of the earth where lurk things best left to slumber. Though I’m looking forward to reading Xavier Lastra’s The Elephant Idol, we’re going to power through this issue in the order the publisher presented them. He ordered them this way for a reason, and who are we to judge?
Atop the Cliffs of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner making his Cirsova debut here, takes the daring path of presenting actual Nazis as the protagonists. Somebody get Antifa on the phone, they’re going to want to read this one because in it, Nazi’s definitely get punched. They get dragged to the top of a Himalayan mountain in the search for one of Himmler’s super-weapons, fight an army of unusually creative of zombie guardians, and waken an angry demonic godling. Some of them even die in gruesome ways before the author bio shuts the door on the story.
Do they all die?
You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out. Because one of the great things about independent works like this is that they don’t have to follow the path laid out by the mainstream publishing gatekeepers. In most anthologies published today, the ending would have been telegraphed from paragraph one. Stoner sets up some inter-party rivalries among the Germans, and never lets you forget that these are the historical bad guys, but he also dangles the results of the encounter with the godling just out of reach until the last possible minute. He touches on and eludes to the holocaust in a way that leaves the reader in doubt as to whether this is an Indiana Jones style story where our archaeologist learns just enough to pull back at the last instant, or whether it is actually an alternate earth where the events of the story lead directly to the horrors of the Holocaust.
Well played, Mister Stoner.