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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, May 03, 2004 - 05:36 pm:   

Special All-American Issue

Novellas
STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE -53- R. Garcia y Robertson

Novelets
THE BATTLE OF YORK -5- James Stoddard
THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF ROCKET BOY -135- Daryl Gregory

Short Stories
NINE WHISPERED OPINIONS REGARDING THE ALASKAN SECESSION -37- George Guthridge
A LIFE IN THE DAY OF EB AND FLO: AN AMERICAN EPIC -52- John Morressy
A BALANCE OF TERRORS -105- Albert E. Cowdrey
JOHNNY BEANSPROUT -119- Esther M. Friesner

Departments
EDITORIAL -4- Gordon Van Gelder
BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -27- Charles de Lint
BOOKS -31- James Sallis
PLUMAGE FROM PEGASUS: THE SLAN CORPS WANTS YOU! -101- Paul Di Filippo
FILMS: FOUR VERY HUMAN ROBOT STORIES -130- Kathi Maio
COMING ATTRACTIONS -160-
CURIOSITIES -162- Bud Webster

CARTOONS: Danny Shanahan (26), Joseph Farris (36), Tom Cheney (134).

COVER BY KENT BASH FOR "STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE"
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John Thiel
Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 11:13 am:   

Plop! It's the latest F&SF, with not only an editorial, but one inviting the reader to use the message board. I went right to the story with the title inspired by the Bob Dylan poem/song. I was not expecting a good story under that title, but I found it to be the best you have printed recently. And right next to it a piece of flash fiction that could be part of that claim, if you were to claim it. I didn't expect Eb and Flo to end up in a story, and they've ended up in a brief masterpiece that's also a very timely piece, not that that last fact is a surprise coming from Morressy; his works have always had an up-to-date effect. I won't suspect the magazine of disdaining the far-out approach any more, either. It took courage to print a piece of DWE-style stamp-out-reality writing which asserts and boasts that it can and has established a new alterate reality outlook in a few paragraphs. The rest of the issue looks like it will keep up the pace, too, and I'm going to be spending the day reading the best single issue of a magazine I've seen in a long time. Too bad the Hugos don't have that category for pro magazine.
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T Andrews
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 08:55 am:   

I didn't expect this issue to be as enjoyable or relevant for me as usual...not because I carry around any anti-American sentiments, it's just hey-I'm not American, it's an American-themed issue.
So imagine my surprise once I got into it.

Hands down, this is the best issue of F&SF I've read so far.

THE BATTLE OF YORK by James Stoddard was fantastic. Loved it! More, please.
NINE WHISPERED OPINIONS REGARDING THE ALASKAN SECESSION by George Guthridge ~smart, unusual, important.
Rounding out the issue with THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF ROCKET BOY by Daryl Gregory blew me away...no pun intended.
Really strong stories this issue!


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Jessa
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 12:27 pm:   

I had an odd reaction to the Rocket Boy story. I didn't think I liked it, but it stayed with me and stayed with me. I even went back and re-read it, and came to the conclusion that I did like it, it just was unsettling. In a year or so, it'll probably number as one of my favorites. I have a fondness for disturbing stories that I can't seem to get out of my head. Good pick, tho it wasn't quite sci-fi. A very good story.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, June 03, 2004 - 07:44 pm:   

A Golden Age of SF update:

So I explained the set-up and then read the opening four paragraphs of "The Battle of York" to my ten year old at bedtime tonight. His eyes started to gleam after the first few sentences, and, when I was done, he said "Wow! There's like eighteen different things going on there at the same time!" and grabbed for the magazine.

The last time he had this strong a reaction to an F&SF story (never mine, alas), it won the Nebula. Thanks for publishing this one. I enjoyed it once for myself and a second time through my son.
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Matthew
Posted on Thursday, June 03, 2004 - 08:13 pm:   

My favorites were "The Battle of York", flag-waving at it's best.
and
"The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy". Not really SF or fantasy, but who the hell cares.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Thursday, June 03, 2004 - 09:36 pm:   

^Bah! My subscription always come so late -- I still only have the June issue. Does F&SF come later because I'm in Canada?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, June 04, 2004 - 05:36 am:   

Robert---

Yes, the foreign copies ship at the same time as the US copies, but international periodical mail can be very slow. Starting with the August issue, we're switching to a new shipper for Canadian copies and they tell me the new service delivers in 5-12 days. We shall see . . . but if you get your August issue before your July issue, you'll know why.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, June 04, 2004 - 07:49 am:   

Rocket Boy was the best story I've read in a while. Truly, a spectacular piece. Thanks for publishing it.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Friday, June 04, 2004 - 11:19 am:   

^Thanks for the info, Gordon :-)
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Thomas R
Posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - 01:28 am:   

Novelets

THE BATTLE OF YORK -5- James Stoddard: A jumbled mythology of a long extinct USA, but it works better than that might sound. Reminded me a bit of The Wizard of Oz, the book not the movie, and The Neverending Story.(The movie not the book) As well as its own touches. Intriguing, unusual, pretty good.

NINE WHISPERED OPINIONS REGARDING THE ALASKAN SECESSION -37- George Guthridge: I liked it, I'm a sucker for Alaskan stuff of course. The constraints made it a bit like a poem in a way. I'm not sure if that's entirely good or bad. Anyway no surprise the guy lives there as it had characters saying things that I know some Alaskans feel. This means basically sympathetic characters get to have a wide range of political views, some of them not at all PC. (The opinion on ANWAR the governor had, views of hunting, etc.) Truesdale should maybe try it:-)Kind of gave a sense of the feelings of a state that's mostly ignored in the lower 48 except as a kind of mythical North. (A recent study hints that people who read literary magazines are better informed about world events than anyone, even better than readers of news magazines, kind of proves that may not be so surprising)

A LIFE IN THE DAY OF EB AND FLO: AN AMERICAN EPIC -52- John Morressy: Cute. I commented on it elsewhere so can't add much. American life in the fast lane says it all.

A BALANCE OF TERRORS by Albert E. Cowdrey: I haven't read this one, but I'm listing it because I want to ask a question. The title makes me think it's dark fantasy or horror is it?

JOHNNY BEANSPROUT by Esther M. Friesner: It's odd she's kind of known as a humorist, but I think I prefer it when she does drama. The story of the kappa in New England was cite, but otherwise I think her humor is too broad for me unless it's in very small doses. The voice at the beginning of this story was amusing, but it just got too preposterous. I quit caring long before it ended. Yet many seem to like the humor she does in this vein. Shrug, I don't know.

Departments
PLUMAGE FROM PEGASUS: THE SLAN CORPS WANTS YOU! -101- Paul Di Filippo: Implausible, but cute wish fulfillment.

FILMS: FOUR VERY HUMAN ROBOT STORIES -130- Kathi Maio: Sigh it sounds good, but I doubt I'll ever get to see it.

CURIOSITIES -162- Bud Webster: Hey Bud! I doubt he's here, and maybe I shouldn't be here either. Anyway the Gods hate Kansas indeed! I've talked enough about the state on other forums.

I'm going to try for Rocket Boy sometime, but if it's unsettling I'm not sure. I get rather easily unnerved. Also I want to start on Lord of Light by Zelazny tomorrow. These were kind of longer reviews than necessary, but I don't think they contained any spoilers.
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John Thiel
Posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - 07:46 am:   

R, THE WIZARD OF OZ seems to be creeping into a lot of sf lately. There's a whole lot of resemblance to it in Gregory Benford's BEYOND INFINITY.
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 01:09 pm:   

I liked Stoddard's "Battle of York" a lot. I think it is the best of this issue. At first, I thought it would be like reading a clueless freshman's American history final exam (and I have read a lot of those) but I ended up liking it very much.

"Rocket Boy" was my second favorite of the issue. The characterization was very well done, and I felt like I had known the people all my life.

On a lesser level, I liked Cowdrey's "Balance of Terrors" and Morressy's "Eb and Flo."

This was the best issue in a while.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 11:18 am:   

^Got this one in the mail today (Edmonton, Alberta).
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kundor
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 12:45 pm:   

That's one benefit of getting an electronic version; I already have the August issue.

I'd prefer reading the dead-tree version, though, but SCIFICTION is breaking me to screen reading. I'm coming to like it more.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 04:08 pm:   

Hey, Kundor -- where'd you get the e-version? I just checked at Fictionwise and E-reader (formerly Palm Digital), and neither one had August up for sale yet.
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kundor
Posted on Friday, June 18, 2004 - 12:14 pm:   

I get it via Miami University Library. Don't know what their source is, I believe the system is called "EBSCOHOST" or something.
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Tracy Taylor
Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 01:25 pm:   

I just received my copy yesterday in the mail, and I read the entire thing last night. I'm also not American, and thought, when I read the cover, I wouldn't be particularly interested, but I was surprised. I loved most of the stories, particularly the "Battle of York".

Congrats on another well done issue, the authors, GVG, JJA, and everyone at F&SF.

Tracy
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 10:39 pm:   

I just finished reading the July issue and LOVED Rocket Boy. Thank you so much for including it, even though, as your disclaimer says, it's not really SF. The funny thing is, that even ten years ago a story with this surveilane technology would have been near future SF.
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Elizabeth
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 04:09 pm:   

Just got my July Issue.

I thought Rocket Boy and A Balance of Terrors were great. Really first rate writing, IMO, and great stories. But neither were really science fiction as I understand it, but both were good reads.

I couldn't get in to The Battle of York or Nine Whispered Opinions, but then again, I'm not American. I'm just not into flag-waving or anything remotely resembling it.

Haven't read the rest yet.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 06:29 pm:   

^Rocket Boy is worth a year's subscription alone, I think. 'The Battle of York' was the smartest laugh I've had in a while -- no flag-waving there. If you get a chance, check it out again, at least for the Canada jokes :-)
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Elizabeth
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 08:10 am:   

OK. I'll give it another try. ;-) I usually try to read everything but not at one sitting. This was just my first crack.
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John Thiel
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 05:54 pm:   

How'd the July and August issues get reversed in their board order? I've been watching the board go through changes. Reversed order must be the order of the day.
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David Eland
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:43 am:   

STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE R. Garcia y Robertson. I started it but lost interest.

THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF ROCKET BOY by Daryl Gregory. Haven't read this yet but will given the praise for it I've seen here.

THE BATTLE OF YORK by James Stoddard. This was fun in mythic portions. I'd like to read a story about Waynejon.

NINE WHISPERED OPINIONS REGARDING THE ALASKAN SECESSION by George Guthridge. I didn't get hooked in the first couple pages so I bailed. Maybe I need to try it again.

A LIFE IN THE DAY OF EB AND FLO: AN AMERICAN EPIC by John Morressy. I thought it was funny and passed it to my 13yo son. He read two pages and gave me a worried look as he handed it back.

A BALANCE OF TERRORS by Albert E. Cowdrey. This is my favorite. The writing style was thoroughly enjoyable, shining a humorous light on the characters and an otherwise average plot.

JOHNNY BEANSPROUT by Esther M. Friesner. Another story that didn't draw me in so I didn't finish it.
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Pat Swift
Posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 11:20 am:   

My favorites in the July issue were STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE & JOHNNY BEANSPROUT (I seem to be in the minority here) I like the way Robertson combined history, adventure and fantasy and it helps that I'm a civil war buff. Friesner got off to a shakey start but got better, and funnier, as it progressed and I realized it was about the Bean family. The last line was a pure delight. As for Cowdrey he has become one of those names that stands out on the table of contents & I usually read him first, he never disappoints.

Bud Webster mentions the film THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE as being based on THE GODS HATE KANSAS. I saw it a long time ago and while it certainly seems to be the same story if memory serves Milton Subotsky's script credited THE SPACE EGG (by Russ Winterbottom? I'm not sure of the spelling) as the source.

Meanwhile I'm still waiting for the August issue.
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Bud Webster
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:25 pm:   

John R: Hey backatcha. Never been in Kansas myself, but I understand it's flat.

Pat Swift: Nope, not _The Space Egg_. Not that it wouldn't have made a better movie, mind you, but the credit is for the Millard book.

You'd have thought, with all the really good novels from that period lying around not being filmed, that they could have picked something with a bit more oomph - or at least kept the original title, which would have been way cool.
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E Thomas
Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 10:43 am:   

Here is my belated review copied from the Asimov's "Short Stories You've Read Lately #5" thread. I've been catching up in subscription reading and now am trying to catch up in reviewing the stories.

F & SF July 2004 "Special All-American Issue"

"The Battle of York" by James Stoddard (novelet)
Three thousand years after the passing of America, the history of it is gone, but the legend of it remains and is related here in "The Battle of York." Names, quotes, legends, and historical fact have all been reassembled in a jumble here that must be painful, as well as amusing, to any historians reading. A forgettable story, but it actually caused me to chuckle in places, which rarely happens with F & SF humor stories.

"Nine Whispered Opinions Regarding the Alaskan Secession" by George Guthridge (short story)
This compelling tale jumps between various Alaskan characters as the future secession of Alaska from the rest of the United States appears to be imminent. It has a strong flow considering the restrictions Guthridge apparently placed on it. I think this is the first story by Guthridge I've read.

"A Life in the Day of Eb and Flo: An American Epic" by John Morressy (short story)
In this harmless one page short, a man lives his life in a day.

"Stuck Inside of Mobile" by R. Garcia y Robertson (novella)
"Stuck Inside of Mobile" is an interesting but lightweight alternate history involving the use of a submarine. The description of the submarine and cameo by Jules Verne were the most interesting parts of this story for me. A fairly strong offering by Garcia y Robertson, actually, since the stories I've read by him so far have often been more miss than hit for me.

"A Balance of Terrors" by Albert E. Cowdrey (short story)
In this darkly amusing near-future story, one of Cowdrey's characters sketches the possibilities for the next pandemic. This character has a plan, but could it be thwarted? There is especially good characterization of the narrator in this one. As I mentioned last time I reviewed a Cowdrey story, Cowdrey is a good writer who almost always writes long, depressing stories. This one, despite its darkness, has an almost upbeat ending. Almost.

"Johnny Beansprout" by Esther M. Friesner (short story)
Cannibals, vegetarians, and tall tales, oh my! Friesner is known for writing lightweight humor stories like this one. They help to break up the line-up of darker tales.

"The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy" by Daryl Gregory (novelet)

In this poignant tale, the reader meets the narrator and his best friend, Stevie. Part nostalgia trip, part creepy Twilight Zone episode, all of the elements blend into a powerful story of mistakes and love.

~~~
I liked the fact that this issue wasn't solicited for, because I believe the stories about the U.S. are more natural than they would be if people were intentionally trying to write critiques or patriotic stories for a theme issue. Unfortunately, most the the stories were good enough reads that ended up being highly forgettable. My favorite story of the issue, a cut far above the rest, is Daryl Gregory's strong "The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy." Cowdrey's "A Balance of Terror" runs a distant second. The Guthridge, Stoddard, and Garcia y Robertson tales tie for third place.
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John Thiel
Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - 05:03 pm:   

I don't know why you have described Morrissey's story as "harmless."
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E Thomas
Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2005 - 04:45 pm:   

What, did it harm you? :-)

In all seriousness, I haven't found myself clicking very well with Morrissey's fiction. This one was short, and I didn't feel much one way or another about it. In any case, it only took up a page, hence the "harmless." It was okay. I think the way Thomas R. described it on another thread is about right: "kind of cute."

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