Paradox Lost

 Litzine, Maxwell Stern (words) and  Timothy Dilich (illustration),    Studio Mosaic, studiomosaic.org, $10

In one of  Star Trek’s more enlightened  moments (The Wrath of Khan,  1982),  while explaining the usefulness of a life- or-death test that’s a no-win scenario,  William Shatner remarked, “How we  deal with death is at least as important  as how we deal with life.” The lead characters that populate  the three short fictions in  Paradox  Lost’s have all been forced to deal with  their mortality and the need to come  to terms with loss and failure in their  own no-win scenarios. They’re realizing  — perhaps for the first time — that  their wants may be unattainable: an  incarcerated murderer has one more  target to kill, but is too feeble to escape;  a badly-injured soldier wants to die, but  can’t find a bullet; an old man whose  memories are dissolving, struggles to  retain the story of his great love. Each  of them interacts with the inevitability  of death in their own way, and each is  certain they’re on the desirable side of  the blurring line between right and  wrong. “There’s a thin line between the  worthy and the worthless,” comments  the jailbird in “The Escape.” Protagonists in stories of this length  can be easy to dismiss, but the players  Maxwell Stern has created are lasting,  primarily due to the extreme positions  they find themselves in. His prose  leads to questions that aren’t explicitly  stated, ensuring the reader will still  be thinking about the stories once the  cover is closed. The cover itself can live  on, as well; it’s printed on seeded paper.  Planting this zine is encouraged. (Scott  Bryson)

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