Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 07:44 pm: |
THE AMULET -6- Albert E. Cowdrey
AYUH, CLAWDIUS -44- Al Michaud
LOVE AND THE WAYWARD TROLL -115- Charles Coleman Finlay
THE WALL OF AMERICA -35- Thomas M. Disch
I LIVE WITH YOU -90- Carol Emshwiller
LATE SHOW -108- Gary W. Shockley
THE BEAU AND THE BEAST -144- Esther M. Friesner
ROBOT ORIGAMI -107- Robert Frazier
BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -26- Charles de Lint
BOOKS -30- James Sallis
FILMS: JEAN-PAUL SARTRE GOES HOLLYWOOD -102- Lucius Shepard
COMING ATTRACTIONS -114-
SCIENCE: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING -137- Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty
CURIOSITIES -162- F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
CARTOONS: Arthur Masear (43), Tom Cheney (89), Joseph Farris (136).
COVER BY DAVID A. HARDY FOR "THE WALL OF AMERICA"
|Posted on Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - 10:07 pm: |
How far in advance do you guys start an issue, anyway?
|Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 05:40 pm: |
Got the new issue, and I must say it's getting to be my favorite sf magazine---a very lively issue that reminds me of high times in the magazine's past. The cover draws my attention immediately to Mr. Disch's story, but the story is kind of disappointing; it has that Damon Runyon touch that I don't go for, a subjective colloquial run-on first person who notes the fallabilities in the super-culture around him. And it keeps reminding me of the title "American Graffitti."
So what did I like so well? First off, Esther Friesner's story keeps things moving and is true to the traditions of fantasy--best thing I've seen by this editress/author. I suggest everyone read it, it's no waste of time.
Then Carol Emshwiller, erstwhile wife of the illustrator, shows style and approch are a real plus in a story---it's another one that readers will not put down until they've finished it, even to object to a remark someone has made.
Cowdrey bops too, and I like to see writers point out what the New Orleans population is like, though as a note on the intro, the city wants to put all those eccentrics in jail and that's what life is like there.
Like to inform Mr. De Lint that I don't care if he puts spoilers in the Spiderwick Chronicles.
The cartoon on page 43 is a little heavy, exploiting as it does the son who takes off to live in the New Culture, fares ill and wants to make it up at his traditional home, too somber a situation for a cartoon, then it's made into a situational archetype--all to point out that he's become a lab rat and is in a rat-maze rather than the rat-race he fled.
Michaud can sure think up a good title. He doesn't have any trouble selling stories, likely, but can he back what he's written?
Page 89, a goldfish that's lived on cess and seaweed, encountered radioactivity and come back to let the cruel pet-owners know the score about it. You can't ignore those failings of the past!
Existentialism in films, good, beat, Lucius Shepard!
Hm, Finlay sees fit to mention trolls in a professional magazine. His story is the second I've seen having a character named Maggot in it, if I remember right the first one was THE DIRTY DOZEN.
A close and intimate piece under SCIENCE---wish I could drop in at the place.
Those ads look like what Leopold Bloom was trying to peddle in ULYSSES.
Thanks again for a fine issue!
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 05:15 am: |
Thank you, John. Does this mean we've knocked Big Ed's Hot and Sweaty Trucker Stories out of your #1 magazine spot? (See other thread if you don't get this reference.)
|Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 06:40 am: |
I don't read any of Big Ed's mags. Not that trucking isn't a valid field of interest for adventure and action, but F&SF is displacing Analog and Asimov's in my esteem. It is a more lively and entertaining publication, is the quality I like.
|Posted on Saturday, January 29, 2005 - 07:29 am: |
I just started this issue but so far so good...
LATE SHOW by Gary W. Shockley
Very Funny. Shockley captured Letterman's style and mannerisms perfectly. I forgot I was reading and saw it all--Kevin Spacey was the alien (Prot from K-Pax) I laughed out loud at the ending. Someone should send it to Letterman.
THE WALL OF AMERICA by Thomas M. Disch
I admired his previous story "Dutch" and looked forward to reading this one. Although not as engaging, this story was worth reading. Disch plucks at the heartstrings while raising questions for the mind.
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Saturday, January 29, 2005 - 11:01 am: |
Thanks for this post. Just to clarify matters, however, the story "Dutch" is by Richard Mueller, not by Thomas Disch.
|Posted on Saturday, January 29, 2005 - 12:08 pm: |
Thanks Gordon, my memory's not so good...only 64K...no error correction bits ...should have looked it up. I'm well 40 so I'm allowed
|Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 09:22 am: |
It's February 2nd and my subscription copy hasn't arrived yet. This is so frustrating. I don't understand. All my junk mail comes on time...
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 12:27 pm: |
Following the shameless self-promoting example of Mr. Hughes, I might mention, for anyone who enjoyed "Love and the Wayward Troll" in this issue, that THE PRODIGAL TROLL, the novel of Maggot's adventures, is available for preorder through Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/5xeq9
Charles Coleman Finlay
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 01:18 pm: |
Are you also teaching at Clarion this year? Can we have the full plug? Do you have a story in the June issue?
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 03:37 pm: |
*cough* A full plug?
Yes, I am teaching at Clarion this summer, alongside Joan Vinge, Gwyneth Jones, Cory Doctorow, Sheila Williams, Walter Jon Williams, and Leslie What.
I should also mention that I'm the administrator for the Online Writing Workshop for SF, F & H, which is where I learned to write before they hired me, so I shouldn't neglect them.
And yes, my story "Of Silence and the Man at Arms" will appear in the June issue of F&SF. Other stories forthcoming include "Still Life With Action Figure" in the Spring 2005 issue of ARGOSY, "Moons Like Great White Whales" in STRANGE HORIZONS in March, "The Nursemaid's Suitor" in issue 9 of BLACK GATE, "Horny in the Underworld" in issue 8 of ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE, and "Pervert," from last March's F&SF, in Hartwell and Cramer's YEAR'S BEST SF 10.
I also have a short story collection, WILD THINGS, coming out from Subterranean Press later this year. The limited edition will include a new story.
I could also mention that I work for the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy and am finishing up a graduate degree in history at Ohio State, but someone would try to put a plug in my plug if I went on any longer.
Thanks for asking!
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 03:53 pm: |
Oh, and because it's for a good cause (all sales go to profit the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund), I should own up to contributing two chapters (or rather one chapter, twice) to Travis Tea's ATLANTA NIGHTS.
(Obviously, I still need to work at this plugging thing.)
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 05:01 pm: |
Our own subscription copies for F&SF only arrived today, Feb. 3. (That's for the March issue.)
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 05:13 pm: |
Excellent plug Charlie. You seemed a little uncomfortable but in time, it will become as natural for you as it has for the esteemed Mr. Hughes. I believe you are also a graduate of Clarion, if I am not mistaken. Hopefully you learned to write there as well.
You may want to look into a domain name like Matt has. It appears more professional than http://home.earthlink.net/~ccfinlay/
If I may be so bold as to make a recommendation...
www.pervert.com if available. ;)
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 05:14 pm: |
Cool, this means I got to read the issue before Gordon.
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 06:49 pm: |
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 06:46 am: |
I didn't have the opportunity to attend Clarion, but many of the writers I know (Ruth Nestvold, Ben Rosenbaum, Tobias Buckell, Catherine Morrison, Marsha Sisolak, to name a few) have attended and I've learned a lot about writing well from all of them. Not being an alum, I feel very fortunate now to have the chance to teach there and be associated with the program.
As for domains, last year the wonderful and generous Lisa Deguchi gave me http://www.ccfinlay.com as a Christmas gift. I haven't had the chance to move everything over to that site yet, but it's on my list to get done before June. (I clicked on the pervert.com link just now to see if it was available. Unfortunately, I was at work...)
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 06:50 am: |
And thanks, Matt. Ususally I don't hear the word "smart" unless it's followed by "ass".
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 02:08 pm: |
If Clarion were four weeks instead of six, I would definitely apply. Sadly, I only get four weeks off work a year.
Part way through March--very much enjoyed THE AMULET and BEAU; WALL was decent. Trapped at work tomorrow night so I'll get to finish the issue. Looking forward to it. =)
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 02:43 pm: |
Liz, is there any way you can take an extra two weeks off of work without pay? Clarion is so very worth it. Many people take out loans to cover their costs and their missed income.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 10:41 pm: |
My inaugrial issue soared.
I picked up F&SF for the first time a few days ago, and read it flap to flap in a couple of sittings--thanks, I think, to a pair of penners who provided surprising loft.
First, who is this Al Michaud, and where has this dude been hiding? Someone lock this man in a cage and not let him out until he produces a novel-length Crowder yarn. His crustacean picaresque threaded horror and humor like a 150 thread-count afghan rug. Addictive, and wonderfully odd.
And where are all the Gary Shokley novels? Letterman's moxie and charm shone like a television in a dark room. A devilishly swift read in a fine, fine mag.
Looking forward to April.
|Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 07:49 am: |
Thanks for the information about your subscription copy. I don't really get concerned unless my copy is two weeks late. I've still got to read the February issue, but I do really enjoy getting a new issue in the mail.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 07:21 am: |
Sorry about the Clarion thing. I, for some reason, thought you had recomended attending once because you enjoyed your experience.
Read the whole issue this weekend. Wonderful. Every bit of it, although I confess to not understanding the difference between good and bad poetry. So, Robot Oragami was a toss up for me.
Finlay and Michaud tie for first
Disch and Cowdrey tie for third
followed by Shockley then Freisner and finally Emshwiller in my order of preference.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 09:53 am: |
Patrick, there's nothing to be sorry for. I could never take offense at being associated with Clarion, and I have recommended it to people.
I'm glad you enjoyed the story! Thanks.
Jill Elaine Hughes
|Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 12:34 pm: |
This issue was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed "The Wall of America", although I didn't get the ending. Loved THE AMULET and AYUH, CLAWDIUS. Really couldn't stand "I Live With You". "Late Show" is OK but the ending makes no sense to me.
Unlike the fabulous _Mr._ Hughes (no relation), I have no story sales sales to report at this time.
Scott William Carter
|Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2005 - 09:30 am: |
Imagine the ending of "Late Show" as a tabloid headline and it becomes immensely funny. You do have to know that Letterman just had a son about a year ago.
Frustrated SF/F reader
|Posted on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 09:19 am: |
Like Jill, the ending of "The Wall of America" made no sense to me at all. I was left with a very frustrated sensation of "WTF?" "Late Show" was another one that made no sense to me, and had me wondering how the heck it rated publication in the first place. And in the latest issue, the first story I read, "Black Deer," again left me scratching my head. I don't get it. And I HATE feeling that at the end of a story. I got the feeling it was about something happening in her past, and there was some "hide the ball" action with a trip to the hospital, but I was very confused and frustrated, and wondered where the rest of the story was. Moreover, I wondered what made that story spec fic.
I'm sorry, but I've been finding more and more stories in F&SF that leave me with that "WTF?" feeling lately. I do not consider myself a stupid person. I'm fairly highly educated, and am an experienced reader of speculative fiction. I enjoy stories that speak to the deeper issues of humanity, and I read and enjoy the various Year's Best anthologies; in other words I can appreciate the literary aspects and potential of sf/f. However, sometimes it feels like too many writers (and editors) strive for "impenetrable" as a path to "literary."
In another thread, GVG stated (in reference to declining subscription rates): "But the people we really need to ask are the ones who let their subscriptions lapse and don't renew, and they're hard to canvass." Well, here's one who has not renewed, even though I still masochistically buy the mag at the bookstore every month. I really do want to support the sf/f industry, but at the same time I want to get my money's worth of enjoyment. I want to have more than two or three stories in an issue that I get caught up in and understand what's going on. I want to have that delightful experience of reading a Story and still be thinking about that Story weeks later. (And in a good way, not in the very frustrated "Gee I still don't know what happened" way.)
According to Christine Begley, Associate Publisher at Dell Magazines, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock MYstery Magazine, Analog, and Asimovs have the following circulation rates:
Are the spec fic mags lower because fewer people read spec fic? And why is Analog so much higher than Asimovs? My theory is that Analog has stories that are more easily accessible by the general public. And the mystery mags have stories that are easily read and enjoyed.
I'm not saying that all the stories need to be easy light fun reads. I'm not saying that at all. But I think that even powerful literary stories need to be readable.
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 02:48 pm: |
Thanks for the useful post, Frustrated. I've been slow to respond just because I wanted to see if anyone else spoke up about the various story endings. (I remember that when we first got the message board, someone said, "Oh good, now there's a place I can go and ask people when I don't understand a story.")
I'm sorry the ending of Tom Disch's "Wall of America" was too artsy for you. My reading of it was that we're to be left wondering where they went.
I failed in my job with regard to "Late Show." I asked Gary to revise the ending so it would be clearer that Letterman's wife was an abductee and Letterman's son was an alien, but it sounds like I should have done more to make that clear. The story's in the magazine because I thought it was funny.
"Black Deer" is a ghost story. I thought that was clear at the end when the cop looks into the car and sees only the woman there.
Not quite so frustrated
|Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 04:37 pm: |
Ohhhhhhhhhh! Okay, now I get it. In my continued reading, I do want to say that I absolutely LOVED Domovoi.
|Posted on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 08:52 am: |
The three stories that I thought were best in this issue were "The Amulet" by Cowdrey (I thought it would end up as horror, but he took it in a light direction and it still worked); "I Live With You" by Emshwiller (It reminded me of the Japanese story "the Human Chair" but again, the author moved away from horror. Still, the suspense here was very strong); and "Love and the Wayward Troll" by Finlay (a terrific adventure story. I look forward to the novel.)
Of the three, I guess I liked the Finlay best.
This was the best issue since the Oct/Nov anniversary issue.
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 05:10 am: |
Considering the story in the news today about Montana cops foiling a plot to kidnap David Letterman's son, I'm thinking now is not a good time to send Gary Shockley's story to Mr. Letterman.
|Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 04:08 pm: |
Maybe the guy got the idea from reading the story. Now wouldn't that be something . . .
|Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 06:19 pm: |
Thanks, Michael! I hope you enjoy the novel.
|Posted on Saturday, April 02, 2005 - 08:22 am: |
An abductee? I loved "Late Show", by the way, but I didn't get anything about an abductee wife. I thought that the alien went to earth as an ambassador, shortly before earth was to be destroyed, in order to get pregnant by Letterman (by the traditional shoulder-pat method of its world?) so that at least the highest example of Earth's genetic patrimony (Mr. Letterman) would be preserved. I thought that was hilarious.
Abudctee. Huh. I guess you could read it like that. I like my version better.
> "Black Deer" is a ghost story.
Apparently I missed this one too, and also like my version better. I didn't think the first husband was dead. I just thought she was hallucinating his presence, or, perhaps, that things are dropping out of her world one by one.
|Posted on Monday, April 04, 2005 - 01:18 pm: |
Ok, I've read the enitre issue aside from Al Michaud's story. Another fine issue it is. Of the columns I paticularily liked Lucius' review of I Heart Huckabees.
The story I liked the best would be Carol Emshwiller's "I Live With You." It grabbed a hold of me from the first line and didn't let go untill the end. Really well done I felt.
Esther M. Friesner's "Beau and the Beast", is another one of my favorites from the issue. She adds something new to the traditional gothic romance, you might say.
I liked Disch's story, "The Wall of America." It seemed to be a partly political story about artistic freedom, and it was just as long as it needed to be.
"The Amulet" was good too. Crowdrey did a good job of telling the story of the esoteric amulet piece by piece through the old lady, weaving it into the present narrative. I agree that the amusing ending totally worked.
"The Late Show" by Gary Shockly was well done, for what it was, considering that the dialog is enough to put us there convincingly. Nothing more was needed because the reader should fill in the rest, unless they've never seen the show. He seemed to have the rythme of Dave and Paul down. It wasn't laugh out loud funny but still humorous (I don't even think you can say that about the show anymore and maybe that's part of the intended satire?). I can see why the ending is somewhat confusing though.
Charles Coleman Finlay's, "Love and the Wayward Troll", was alright, but not one of my favorites of the issue. It felt too much like a novel excerpt, and I really don't like novel excerpts in the mags, unless they stand well on their own. Although I do like a series with a recurring character. The character didn't interest me that much though, because he seemed like just another wild primative boy, trying to come to terms with humanity, which he would normally belong to. I guess kind of like Mowgli, except instead of being raised by wolves, he's raised by trolls...
not bad though.
I've already dipped into the next issue.
I read "Black Deer" before I checked this thread out, when the cop looks into the car it was pretty clearly a ghost story to me...
|Posted on Thursday, April 07, 2005 - 06:00 pm: |
The March issue is the one on the newstands in Australia, so I've just started reading it. But I just had to say that Carol's "I Live with You" is brilliant. I love the way it can be interpreted almost as a ghost story and a critique of modern society. It reminded me of a remark in a book I read once that said the mark of a good servant in British India was to be almost invisible.
|Posted on Friday, April 08, 2005 - 08:07 am: |
**Spoiler, I think **
Okay, I think I must be completely out of it, but I just re-read the Late Show's ending and I think the ending was supposed to be a sort of punch-line, the aliens impregnated Dave. I got a chuckle out of the prospect as it instantly brought to mind the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where Arny has a baby.
Also, I really enjoy Ayuh, Cladius, but the language and writing was really difficult to slog through.
|Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2005 - 06:17 am: |
Yeah Tracy, I had a similar impression of the end when I read The Late Show.
|Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 09:07 am: |
I must confess to enjoying the articles much more than the fiction in the March 2005 F&SF.
The following comments are personal opinion only and not intended to cause any offense to the writers.
The Wall of America did absolutely nothing for me, I'm afraid. In fact, judging by my reactions to all the art stories I've read in F&SF, I have a terrible aversion to art stories.
I Live With You was fairly good. It held my attention until the end, though I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone. I didn't really connect with it.
Late Show was great right up until the end, at which point I was left utterly confused and very unsatisfied (sorry, GVG).
The Beau and the Beast was interesting, but mostly due to my own perverted worship of great Cthulu and all he touches.
Ayuh, Claudius was a case of style obscuring content for me. The writing was so impenetrable I just gave up (just as I did with the last Michaud lobster story - next time I will not even try).
Love and the Wayward Troll was very well written, but I must agree with one of the postings above - this felt like a novel excerpt to me, and fell on account of that, despite the skill of the writer.
The Amulet was very good. This story had me smiling and was a pleasure to read. Yesss!
Luckily, Much Ado About Nothing (combined with The Amulet) saved this whole issue for me. It was an utterly brilliant piece - congrats!
So far in my subscription term (since December 2004), F&SF has been more of a miss than a hit with me. However, I have over 150 back issues purchased on e-bay from as far back as 1973 and generally find the fiction to be far more to my liking in those older issues (especially pre-2000).
Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 09:23 am: |
No need to apologize---honest feedback like this helps me decide what stories to publish in the future. We've got another Albert Cowdrey story running in the July issue, with more to come in the future.