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Night Shade Message Boards » Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction » F&SF Issues - Tables of Contents, Discussion » April 2004 issue---contents « Previous Next »

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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 08:16 am:   

NOVELETS

THE OCEAN OF THE BLIND -7- James L. Cambias
THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT LE CHATEAU MALVEILLANT -39- John Morressy
SILENT ECHOES -90- Albert E. Cowdrey
DANCER IN THE DARK -125- David Gerrold

SHORT STORIES

THE FOREST ON THE ASTEROID -62- Robert Sheckley
THE MILLSTONE -72- Kate Mason
THE SEVENTH DAUGHTER -86- Bruce McAllister
GAS -111- Ray Vukcevich

DEPARTMENTS

BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -30- Charles de Lint
BOOKS -34- James Sallis
PLUMAGE FROM PEGASUS: ON THE INTERNET, NOBODY KNOWS YOU'RE ADORABLE -81- Paul Di Filippo
COMING ATTRACTIONS -110-
FILMS: RETURN OF THE KING -120- Lucius Shepard
CURIOSITIES -162- John Kessel

CARTOONS: Joseph Farris (29), S. Harris (80), Mark Heath (85), Danny Shanahan (89).

COVER BY DAVID A. HARDY FOR "DANCER IN THE DARK"
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 07:45 am:   

It looks like an impressive line-up. Most of the contributors have produced good work for the magazine before. Good to see Sheckley and Vukcevich back.
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Alan T. Sippola
Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 05:30 pm:   


And especially, John Morressy. I really love reading his spectacular tales of Kedrigern, the wizard, and am truly looking forward to receiving my copy of this April issue.

Thank you, so very much, Gordon, for publishing another absolutely wonderful issue of F&SF. :-)

~ Alan ~
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - 01:19 pm:   

Has anyone gotten this issue yet? I usually get the new issue in the last week of the previous month, but I haven't gotten this one yet.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - 02:15 pm:   

Michael---

Our checking copies showed up in Hoboken yesterday (March 1). The issues shipped a few days late this month because there was a technical problem that made it difficult to get the labels to stick to the covers.
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Mike Mearls
Posted on Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - 02:29 pm:   

I picked this issue up late last week at Pandemonium Books & Games in Cambridge, MA.

So far, so good. I've read the stories by James Cambias, Robert Sheckley, and Ray Vukcevich and enjoyed them all. Vukcevich has been a revelation - The Wages of Syntax is next on my reading list. I just finished Cambias's story and quite liked it. I'm looking forward to the novel.

Keep this up, and I'll have to re-subscribe. I last read F&SF back when I was young and too dense to realize that I really, really didn't have the tools needed to be a writer or recognize and appreciate good writing. Maybe I'm growing up?

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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

I received my copy in the mail yesterday.

JK
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John Thiel
Posted on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 06:36 pm:   

Mr. Van Gelder:

The April issue has arrived with little damage to the cover from removing the mailing label; the removal left a pattern resembling wind stripes in a comic book around the boy's run. That's a good story that cover ilustrated, too---it was very evocative, it had a feel to it, one which corresponded greatly with a feeling that can be found beneath the events of modern times.

The "Tom's a-Cold" review made me feel like saying, "Get ready!" But it was interesting to see John Collier had done sf. I'll look for it.

I know it's a good issue, you know it's a good issue---some fellow over there doesn't know it's a good issue.
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Candy Taylor Tutt
Posted on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 04:34 pm:   

John: I laughed out loud at your 'get ready' reference. Ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa....
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Alan T. Sippola
Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 08:55 pm:   


For anyone who has really enjoyed the cartoons of S. Harris as much as I have throughout the years in the pages of F&SF (as featured in this fabulous issue) and elsewhere, here is his fascinating website...

"Science Cartoons Plus -- The Cartoons of S. Harris"
http://www.sciencecartoonsplus.com/


~ Alan ~
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 10:59 am:   

My issue finally came, and I finally read it.

"Silent Echoes" by Albert E. Cowdrey was my choice for the best story out of this issue. The characters were memorable, and the story didn't end up where I expected it to go.

Down a step were "The Millstone" by Kate Mason and "Gas" by Ray Vukcevich. Both were very enjoyable.
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Cpf
Posted on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 07:46 pm:   

Dancer in the Dark has my vote for the best story, loved it.
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John Thiel
Posted on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 07:14 am:   

Morrissey seems to regard an alternate reality as simply what there is. If I take his outlook correctly, "Unpleasantness" is the greatest understatement that has appeared in any sf title.

I think he'd read Rajnar Vajra's SHOOTOUT AT THE NOKAI CORRAL before writing it.
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Nora Jemison
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 11:34 am:   

A day late and a dollar short, but I just had to post some gushing here about David Gerrold's "Dancer in the Dark". It was grim, visceral, cruel, dramatic, and beautiful. I read it over the course of a week on the commuter rail to and from work, and nearly missed my stop several times because I was so engrossed in the story. This story has simultaneously delighted me and left me in dismay, because *now* I know why my stories keep getting rejected from F&SF. If this is the standard, I've got a long way to go before I can even compete.

I did have some unanswered questions at the end of it, though, and I'm hoping some fellow readers here will join me in speculating about the answers.

-What happened to cause the dark-dwellers to retreat into their miserable life? On a metaphorical level I thought it worked as a critique of enforced mediocrity in our society. People who are too happy are thought of as crazy; suffering is supposed to be somehow good for you. But on a science fictional level I speculated a little more wildly. My theory is that the human race has reached its next evolutionary level in this story. Maybe they've become energy beings, whatever. But naturally some people fear change, so for them the only way to prevent it is to stay in the dark, and prevent the contamination from spreading.

-What happened at the end? Doey says something about unhooking the terminals of the darkwires, and forcing the dark-dwellers into a choice. Is he somehow going to make the darkwires emit light? Or does he mean they're going to sabotage all of the terminals and cause the dark to collapse?

Okay, I'll stop here; this message is too long as it is. Just had to gush somewhere. Mr. Gerrold, if you read this, you've just won yourself a new, devoted fan.
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David Gerrold
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 02:33 pm:   

Thanks, Nora, for your very kind words. Much appreciated. I should probably make an effort to answer some of your questions, but ... the story came from about sixteen different places, and it fell together the way it did, despite whatever intentions, good or otherwise, the author might have brought to the keyboard.

Whatever catastrophe created this world, it could be anything from a solar flare to an energy plague to a collapse of linear time. I felt it was more ominous not explaining. I do like your theory though -- that human beings in the story are evolving. I sure wish I knew what happened next, only I'm not that evolved yet either.

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CPF
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2004 - 03:49 pm:   

Mr. Gerrold, here is something I thought might make you fell good. I had just read your story and wanted the wife to take a look at it. Know you have to understand my wife, she has bad eyes, and it can take her a long time to read. Sitting on the train for five days a week, an hour each way, it will still take her three months to finish a novel. The wife was halfway through an Ursula book so there was no way she was going to get to your story for at least another month. I had enjoyed your story so much and wanted her to enjoy it as well that there was no way I could wait that long. That Saturday morning as we where lying in bed and before she could run away to start doing her choirs I sat there with her and read her the entire story. She enjoyed it very much and to tell you the truth I enjoyed reading it for her.

Thanks,
CPF
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T Andrews
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 12:35 pm:   

"Dancer in the Dark" by David Gerrold was the story I enjoyed the most. The other stories will stay in my memory banks for a little while, whereas his story has moved in for good.
Fantastic accompanying cover art, as well.
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2004 - 08:53 pm:   

I liked Ocean of the Blind a good deal. Nice solid SF. I liked the aliens and the ending. However as petty as this is I have to ask something. On page 19 Rob became "Ron" for awhile. I wouldn't mention this except it had "Ron" in upper case letters and called him that after that for a bit. For awhile I thought a new character was added and it confused me for a second. Was this just in my issue and has it been mentioned already?
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Sean T. M. Stiennon
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 01:20 pm:   

I loved "Ocean of the Blind" and "Unpleasantness...", but can't beside between them for best story of the issue.
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Chris Exner
Posted on Thursday, April 08, 2004 - 11:16 pm:   

I subscribed to F&SF a few months back (first issue arrived in February), and just wanted to write in to express how pleased I am so far with everything I have read over the past few months and that this April's issue was the most satisfying magazine I've read all year. I've been picking up single issues of your zine over the past few years and am very angry I did not subscribe sooner. I enjoyed "Dancer in the Dark" the most, with "The Ocean of the Blind," "The Forest on the Asteroid," and "Gas" all tied in a strong second place. I'm half way through the May issue and your magazine continues to appease my imagination.

Thank you!
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John Thiel
Posted on Friday, April 09, 2004 - 07:30 am:   

Mr. Gerrold says he continues to evolve along with the concepts in his stories, finding new ways, new approaches. Maybe he should tune in to Samuel Delaney, an East Village other, if he hasn't already. To get to the essence of his story approach, it is hip.
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Nora Jemison
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:09 pm:   

Belated reply -- thanks for answering my questions, Mr. Gerrold. I agree with you; it's better not knowing, which just makes my imagination go wild with all the possibilities. =)
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Lee
Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 04:57 pm:   

David Hardy's cover is impressive. Was it painted or digital, or a hybrid? Quite a departure from his usual style...I was going to add a line about heavenly bodies, but that would probably be horribly un-PC. Anyway, the nudity is tasteful and artistic and called for by the story.
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David A Hardy
Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2004 - 01:09 am:   

Thanks for the kind words on my cover. To answer your question, it was mainly digital. As for the change of subject (nont necessarily style?) -- I enjoy a challenge!

David A Hardy
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David Gerrold
Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2004 - 09:09 pm:   

Thank you all for your kind words on "Dancer In The Dark." Thank you, CPF, T. Andrews, Chris Exner, John Thiel, and everyone else as well.

For the record, I liked David Hardy's cover very much. The imagery was remarkable and very evocative. He did it so quickly after the story was turned in that I had a hunch he used something like Poser software for the figure of the boy, but there's real animation in the composition, and I think it's one of the best illustrations I've ever had for any story I've had published. I've been an admirer of his work for some time, now I'm an enthusiastic fan. <g>

In answer to John Thiel, Samuel Delaney is an old friend from way back. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him at a convention last year. He knows how much I admire his work and how often he's inspired me, and in fact this story does have a bit of Delaney's influence in its inspiration, because it began with a conversation we had about the concept of "the wild boy" -- the boy from over the horizon.

I consider the hero of the story very lucky, because unlike most of us, he gets to go to that wild place himself. If I could capture the essence of that wildness, I'd have another story. <g>
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E Thomas
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 06:04 pm:   

Before this forum existed, after I read a magazine of either F & SF or Asimov's I would post my summary/review on the the Asimov's forum here under the short stories section threads on short stories read recently. I have been so behind in my subscriptions, though, that I haven't had a chance to post any reviews of F & SF for quite some time. Now, as my reading summaries trickle into the Asimov's forum, I thought I might post my reading responses for F & SF here for the people who never visit the Asimov's forum. I post here with more trepidation since more people here will have read the stories and disagree with my opinions. :-)

F & SF April 2004

"The Ocean of the Blind" by Jame L. Cambias (novelet)

Marine scientists covertly observe an alien species, but of course the man on the expedition everyone hates (Henri Kerlerec) has a plan. He enlists the aid of one of the story's narrators, Rob Freeman, to go with him on an unscheduled dive. He has a special suit that will allow him to get really close to the alien life without them finding him. Meanwhile, another scientist named Broadtail (of the alien persuasion) is attempting to join the Bitterwater Company of Scholars. The paths of the two species collide with interesting results.

"The Unpleasantness at Le Chateau Malveillant" by John Morressy (novelet)

I'm starting to become resigned to the fact that John Morressy is an author who writes stories that (for me at least) are misses or near misses. I can't remember anything about "The Curse of the Von Krumpelsteins" (F & SF May 2003) other than it didn't work for me, and while "The Artificer's Tale" from the F & SF October 2003 issue made a slightly better impression, upon rereading the table of contents it was one of the weakest of the issue. This story apparently is one of a long series about the wizard-detective Kedrigern. It's supposed to be a humorous fantasy, but the light "mystery" doesn't make up for an overall flatness in characters. I just couldn't find myself caring overly much about any of them. Maybe if I hadn't jumped in mid-series it would have worked better for me.

"The Forest on the Asteroid" by Robert Sheckley (short story)

The small sustainable habitat on the asteroid has a history. There is the feeling of something menacing and unknowable in the forest on the asteroid. I was with this story from beginning until the very end, where in abruptly ended. In a science fiction equivalent of the locked room mystery, Sheckley plays unfairly and doesn't solve the mystery for his characters or for his readers. I get the impression Sheckley didn't know the answer to the question he posed himself, and thought, "Hey, what the heck, we'll try to make this a metaphor or something."

"The Millstone" by Kate Mason (short story)

This is a retelling of the fairy tale "The Poor Miller's Apprentice." I wasn't familiar with the original tale, so I cannot comment on how this version is different. What makes this story worthwhile reading is not so much the story itself as the strong voice that Mason gives the narrator. For a first story for F & SF, it shows a lot of promise. I would like to see what she does with an original story.

"The Seventh Daughter" by Bruce McAllister (short story)

To be honest, I'm not sure if it was the story or the hour of night I read it, but I'm not sure what actually was happening in this fantasy as far as the plot was concerned. It seemed to have a happy ending, though.

"Silent Echoes" by Albert E. Cowdrey (novelet)

Cowdrey writes weird stuff. I remember a reviewer online (probably bluejack) saying that Cowdrey is his own genre. This particular story is a twisted one following some messed up characters who are into various degrees of sadomasochism. The speculative fiction element is that one of the main characters can apparently hear echoes of voices from different times. Cowdrey is a good writer, and I never know just what to expect from him, but after reading a story like this one I want to run out and read fluffy, happy stories for days. His stories in F & SF are so often long and depressing that I always start them with a resigned air.

"Gas" by Ray Vukcevich (short story)

Vukcevich offers an odd, pulpy love story that involves aliens hidden amongst the humans on earth and a surreal concert. "Gas" is kind of fun. The editors are right that his stuff ups the "weirdness quotient" of F & SF, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

"Dancer in the Dark" by David Gerrold (novelet)

This story reads like it is science fiction, although nothing is really explained. The dark lines reminded me of one of the concepts in David Langford's excellent story "Different Kinds of Darkness," but clearly something else is going on in this story. The stifling of questions and lack of explanation by the rural folk who live within the dark lines is scary, but in the end the brilliant colors of the outside seem to be as dangerous as they claim. What has happened on this world? Despite no idea what conclusions I was supposed to make, the story pulled me in a similar way to the way the main character was pulled to the outside dancers: I didn't understand it, but it was beautiful anyway.

My favorites for this issue are Cambias' "The Ocean of the Blind" and Gerrold's "Dancer in the Dark."
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Dan Lovejoy
Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2005 - 10:05 pm:   

Don't know if anyone monitors this old forum or gets notified of new posts, but it's worth a shot.

The intro text to "Ocean of the Blind" says that this story is part of a larger novel-in-progress.

Does anyone know if Mr. Cambias' novel-in-progress has made it past "in progress?" I'd very much like to buy it, but it's obviously not for sale yet.

Thanks,
dhl
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John Thiel
Posted on Monday, September 12, 2005 - 07:22 am:   

I always read a new comment on an old issue--it's interesting to see people are still commenting on earlier writing. Sorry I can't answer your question, though.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 - 05:45 am:   

John, over at SF Signal (www.sfsignal.com) reviewed the new Year's Best Science Fiction, and had this to say:

# "The Oceans of The Blind"by James L. Cambias [2004 short story] (Rating:4.5/5) [Read 12/03/05]

* Synopsis: Two members of an underwater science team located on another planet defy orders to get a closer look at the crustaceous inhabitants. The lobster-like aliens are thought to be blind because of the dark water they live in, but they don't count on the aliens' use of sonar to "see".

* Review: Excellent tension-filled story. The beginning had me thinking this was going to be a story of the murder of Henri Kerlerec as everyone else has a contest to see who can think of the most methods of killing Henri. The "getting his just desserts" ending was somewhat predictable, but still effective at eliciting a smile of contentment.

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