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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 07:54 am:   

THE MAGAZINE OF
FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
April 56th Year of Publication


NOVELETS

The Secret Sutras of Sally Strumpet -6- Paul Di Filippo
The Gospel of Nate -99- Michael Libling


SHORT STORIES

Domovoi -41- M. K. Hobson
The Secret of the Scarab -60- Ron Goulart
Black Deer -81- Claudia O'Keefe
A Friendly Little Oasis -90- Harvey Jacobs
Finding Sajessarian -129- Matthew Hughes
The Harrowing -146- M. Rickert

DEPARTMENTS

Books to Look For -28- Charles de Lint
Books -33- Robert K.J. Killheffer
Films: Plastic, And Proud of It -124- Kathi Maio
Coming Attractions -145-
Curiosities -162- Bud Webster

CARTOONS: Arthur Masear (80)
COVER BY MAURIZIO MANZIERI FOR "THE HARROWING"
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 08:24 am:   

Oh, God, another issue. I haven't read the last one yet...
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 09:01 am:   

I think you made a typo in that post---shouldn't there be a second "o" in the second word?
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 09:44 am:   

Ron Goulart? I'm in the same issue as Ron Goulart? How cool.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com
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Libling
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 10:27 am:   

Ron Goulart and Matt Hughes? I'm in the same issue as Ron Goulart and Matt Hughes? How cool cool.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 11:17 am:   

Crap, Goulart and Hughes and Libling are in the issue and I'm not!
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Patrick M.
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 01:03 pm:   

An issue of FSF WITHOUT a FINLAY???? APPALLING!!!! I don't even know what to say....Wait, no. I did say something, what was it?

APPALLING!!!!

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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 01:17 pm:   

Okay, Finlay. We'll run a story of yours in June. At least you'll be in an issue with Hughes.
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 07:58 pm:   

Whew. I feel much better now.
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 03:05 am:   

Looks like everyone gets to be in an issue with Hughes. Except me, of course. :-)
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 07:35 am:   

I'm a {Hughes} who isn't in an issue with Hughes.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 07:35 am:   

Messed up the italic function! Will slink off quietly in shame...

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Matt Hughes
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 10:01 am:   

Nonsense! A Hughes is above shame.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Charlie Finlay
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 12:11 pm:   

So there are no Hughes of red. Interesting.
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 03:33 pm:   

It matters only that we're well read, and widely.

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/
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Patrick M.
Posted on Monday, February 28, 2005 - 06:48 am:   

Arrived yesterday.
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John Thiel
Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 02:34 pm:   

Can't resist pointing out that that's a very good likeness of my nephew David on the cover; I almost feel like putting his website address up so people could see what I mean. Very startling cover to look at from this one reader's viewpoint.

In looking over the issue, I'm rather taken aback by how abusive toward the characters in the story so much of the writing is. It's nothing new this month, but I noticed it in story after story. Giving a title character the name "Strumpet" is what triggered off the observation. Sure enough, "..dead cigar in his mouth, the foul smell of which..." "Weinstein is practically pissing his pants.." "Bridget Jones' ass." In "Domovoi," "..lying on a dirty mattress and drinking vodka from a bottle." Instead of his hand, I guess. In Goulart's story, "The portly magician," portliness is the magician's most notable attribute. A lot of character descriptions in a lot of sf describe how run-down the characters are. Why not leave them undescribed if they are so unattractive? "An old fart dumps his pension check.." (Libling). "Rubbing his thick tongue" (Rickert). Are the authors depressed about the way people look, or trying to be depressing?

The plots were sprightly enough, but the concentration on the defects of characters kept me from enjoying many of the stories. "This all happens to a bunch of bums" may be greater realism, but detracts from the storyteller's art.

Well, it's a personality issue, though, the lead novelettes being about Nate and Sally Strumpet. A friendly little oasis indeed.It should make good reading when I get around to getting deeper into the stories.
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Dave
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 06:32 am:   

"The Girl Who Ate Butterflies" was the first M. Rickert story I read. It is a wonderful story that subtly evokes strong emotions--sort of like a writing exersize I remember that asked the writer to describe a barn from the point of view of a father whose son has just died; do not mention the son or the death.

I always enjoy Rickert's prose, and "The Harrowing," was a good story, but it didn't rise to the level of "The Girl Who Ate Butterflies." I thought the story-within-a-story structure created too much psychological distance between the reader and the characters. For me, the protagonist's inner struggle over his crime was the key element, but it seemed to be pushed to the background by the inner story of the seminary.

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The Queen of Hearts
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 07:42 am:   

Criticism of anything M. Rickert writes shall be cause for execution. So sayeth the Queen of Hearts.

Off with his head!

;-)
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Kelly Shaw
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 01:32 pm:   

Every reader has favorite writers, those whose prose and stories sing and can do no wrong. M. Rickert is one of those writers for me. I usually don't read stories from magazines (I much prefer waiting for a collection), but Rickert's stories have become the exception. I've only read Bread & Bombs, Cold Fires, and The Harrowing of hers thus far, and I am constantly in awe of her stories the way the prose elegantly moves and evokes beautiful and frightening scenes.

So, needless to say, I loved The Harrowing!
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Jeffrey Smith
Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2005 - 11:11 pm:   

I loved "The Harrowing," too. And I liked the story-in-a-story structure. As soon as I was done I went back and skimmed through it again, admiring the way it all fit together. Great job.
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Rande G. Jacobson
Posted on Friday, March 11, 2005 - 05:00 pm:   

Just like to say I got a big kick out of A Friendly Little Oasis by Harvey Jacobs. I asked my wife to read it. She came back into the room and rolled her eyes and said "yep, it's my kind of story"
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Michael Samerdyke
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 10:07 am:   

I thought the best story this time out was "The Gospel of Nate" by Michael Libling. It was funny and kept me guessing as it how it would turn out.

The best stories this time all seemed to be rather humorous. At a step down from "Nate," I liked the following three: "Secret Sutras of Sally Strumpet," "The Secret of the Scarab,"
and "A Friendly Little Oasis."

A pretty good issue, all in all.
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Libling
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   

Thanks for your comments, Michael S. Much appreciated.
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Jeffrey Smith
Posted on Sunday, April 17, 2005 - 08:55 am:   

I am *still* bouncing around in this issue (unusual for me, who tends to read front-to-back), and just read "Gospel According to Nate," which I liked a lot. Not only was the concept good, I really admired the writing -- especially the level of detail, such as on the different machines and on Nate's life. These details took a good story and kicked it up a notch, keeping it continually interesting. Good job.
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Libling
Posted on Sunday, April 17, 2005 - 03:46 pm:   

Well, I'm glad you stopped bouncing long enough to read NATE, Jeffrey. It's nice to get this kind of feedback. Thank you!
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, April 23, 2005 - 07:14 pm:   

I just finished reading The Harrowing by M. Rickert. I thought it was quite good. The first two pages hooked me with the character and the story flowed well from there. Kind of apropriate considering all the recent talk of Catholicism. It clearly makes references to sexual abuse in the church, although I don't think that's the story's point. It's really a story about the nature of good and evil, and how things are often not as they seem. I think it's saying that good and evil are ultimately a matter of will, what you choose to do, and our past misdeeds need not determine our future. The story does seem to contradict itself in some ways. Like how the characters are "good" boys untill they're corrupted by the priest, but then we find out about the harrowing and how their souls are evil. Maybe the Catholic sense of evil is different than how I view it, but I think true evil is very rare in humanity. Of course people sometimes do bad things, but that doesn't make them evil. Seemed a little inconsistent but altogether a good story. I'm actually suprised to find out, from reading the other comments, that M. Rickert is a lady. My assumption that she was a man is probably mostly based on the fact that all of the characters (except the mom) are men.

I've read everything else in this issue, except for Michael Libling's story, which I'll get to and comment on soon.

As mentioned on its of thread, I really liked The Seceret Sutras of Sally Strumpet. It was funny.

Domovoi by M.K. Hobson, I felt was another one of the better stories. Kind of the classic, unsympathetic protagonist gets what he deserves ghost story, which worked really well. I like the use of the Domovoi myth in a haunted house story, and how the greedy protagonist fixes up old houses for a living. It was the first story I read, and its been awhile, so I don't remember all the details, but I remember that it was good.

Claudia O'Keefe's Black Deer; another ghost story. The story didn't appeal to me in the same way as some of the others, but it was still pretty good. I liked how it ends once we find out her husband is a ghost. Clearly about how the loss of someone really close is hard to let go of.

Harvey Jocabs' Friendly Oasis was alright, but I remember the joke at the end not totally working for me and left me feeling like the story was just a gimmick. It's been awhile since I've read this one too, and it doesn't stick in my mind as well as some of the stories I enjoyed more.

The Seceret Of The Scarab, by Ron Goulart, was pretty good. I liked how it totally stood on its own as part of a series I've never read anything previous from. Nothing fancy about the writing, but it was a tale well told with clear prose that totally fit the type of story.

Matt Hughes', Finding Sajessarian, another series detective story, didn't work as well for me that way (as standing on its own in a series). It's the first Hengis Hapthorn story I've read and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been following the series from the start. Still, it was pretty good, but just didn't work for me as well as the Guth Bandar stories have.

So, i'm really enjoying the subscription so far, it's a kick ass mag.

The next issue looks good with that Laird Barron novella.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 06:50 am:   

Thanks for all the feedback, Stephen.
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2005 - 01:28 pm:   

Hey, no worries. I like talking about the mag.
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, May 07, 2005 - 04:22 pm:   

I just finished "The Gospel Of Nate" by Michel Libling. I really liked it. The narrator's voice is ammusing, right off the bat. He doesn't know his literary and religious figures very well, but the story's full of references for those who do. What starts off as an, average joe meets and falls for beautiful girl, kind of story, turns into philosophical speculation on reincarnation, spirituality, religion, and alternate dimensions. Clever idea, and for me, it's ultimately the ideas that stand out in this story.

Now on to next month...:-)
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Libling
Posted on Monday, May 23, 2005 - 07:26 pm:   

Hey, Stephen! Thanks for taking the time to read NATE and to comment upon it. Your summation is pretty much dead-on and your feedback very much appreciated.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, May 23, 2005 - 08:03 pm:   

Hey no problem Micheal, I enjoyed it. Hopefully I'll see more of your work.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, May 23, 2005 - 08:03 pm:   

Coming up.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 06:47 am:   

Review:

http://www.bestsf.net/reviews/fsf0504.html
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 02:29 pm:   

Blog review: http://journals.eyrie.org/eagle/archives/000451.html
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Matthew
Posted on Wednesday, August 03, 2005 - 02:45 pm:   

I don't think either of those reviewers got "The Harrowing". I thought it was the best story in the whole bunch.

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