Short Fiction

Oct 25, 23:08 by John Frost
Discussion of Short Fiction.

(For the article itself: click here.)
Oct 26, 01:56 by Abizer Nasir
Excellent overview as usual.

I agree with your point about reading more magazines. As a commuter, there is a nice section of the morning which I can devote to reading and I find a book or a magazine easier to read on a crowded train than a newspaper.

It does help that TTA and now Interzone shy away from Realms of Fantasy style covers. I don't feel at all embarrassed to have the cover on display.

You can have too much design, though. There are parts of the magazines (such as author information) that is very difficult to read as they merge into the graphics on the page.
Oct 26, 08:03 by
Sometimes more mistake than design Abizer ;) I guess one of the things you're referring to is Chris Barzak's bio in TTA39. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't fit it at the end of the story, so I ran it where I did, and on screen and in proofs the black was perfectly legible. But less so when printed -- I guess mostly because TTA39 was printed on different stock than previous issues. So I don't mind demistifying the process a bit: we're not trying to be clever, we just don't have a clue :)
Oct 26, 08:37 by Bluejack
It does help that TTA and now Interzone shy away from Realms of Fantasy style covers. I don't feel at all embarrassed to have the cover on display.

I'm with you, Abizer! I have on several occasions observed the embarassment of carrying around RoF. However, I have it on very good authority that their newstand sales increase measurably when they have a half-naked chain-mail vixen on the cover.

Oct 26, 08:45 by Dawn Burnell
As a female I occasionally dislike the RoF covers. OTOH, I know they sell more and I adore the fiction in the magazine, so I put up with what they do to bring in more sales.
Oct 26, 12:58 by Yoon Lee
Thank you for the advice, bluejack! I have to admit that I'm a compulsive completist about magazine-reading. (I skip baseball stories; otherwise, it takes severe distaste/gross-out for me NOT to finish a story.)

I wish my local library had more sf/f magazines. I like sitting in the library and browsing. Still, they have Asimov's; it's a start.
Oct 26, 15:20 by Bluejack
RE: Local libraries -- if you haven't already, you should request that they carry the magazines you want. Some libraries have request forms you can fill out, others are less formal. It may take more than one request to get a magazine, but every request helps. And it may NOT take more than one request. If a library has a magazine budget, and some magazines have gone out of business, they will look to replace those with something people have actually asked for.

I made a bunch of requests in the Seattle Public system, and they picked up a couple of them.
Oct 26, 15:24 by Bluejack
PS. Also note that libraries sometimes file magazines strangely. Even if it's in alphabetical order, Asimov's may be under _I_saac, _A_simov, or _S_cience Fiction.
I have also found Analog under _A_nalog, _S_cience Fact & Fiction, and even _A_stounding. If the library tries to classify magazines, it can get even stranger.
Oct 29, 13:31 by Abizer Nasir
Thanks for coming back. I know you get stick for it, but I also know you read your own forums and take note of the comment.
I was gobsmacked at the quality of both magazines when they came through - I was scared to read them for a few days in case i spoiled them.
Oct 29, 16:55 by Yoon Lee
bluejack--it gets better. Asimov's at my library is filed in the YA section, separately from the rest of the magazines (except the children's magazines, in *their* own section). I'll see if putting in a request for other particular magazines does any good! :-)
Oct 31, 03:26 by Christina Francine

That's good information. Our local library doesn't carry ANY SF or Fantasy magazines. Thanks for the tip. I'll ask and put in a request for a few variations.

I do subscribe to Realms of Fantasy and understand how half naked women would increase sales. I too am embarrassed to carry it around though, especially since I work in a public high school.

Just wondering, what would readers think about other speculative magazines putting half naked women on their covers? If these mag.'s decided not to, why or why not? Food for thought: I also subscribe to Black Gate, and think its fantastic. They've never placed a half naked woman on their cover. How is their readership?
Nov 1, 09:08 by Bluejack
Black Gate doesn't come out as frequently as RoF, and I doubt it has the same widespread distribution to news-stands, probably relying mostly on subscriptions, so I expect readership patterns and demographics are pretty different. But that's guesswork.

On a similar vein, I have heard that Asimov's/Analog magazines sell a tad better when there is a rocket ship on the cover. Personally, I tend to think those generic rocks-in-space paintings are pretty dull in the long run, but if that's what it takes to tell people "Science Fiction Here" then I guess I can live with it.

Nov 2, 12:21 by Mike Bailey
I think bluejack is right about reviewers mostly just sharing our opinions with each other.
I reviewed the November Analog at Tangent here. Here are excerpts of my review that pertain to my favorite stories from the issue.

I have read three issues of Analog at the time of this review, and so far the offerings from the magazine seem to be a mixed bag. Analog rarely publishes luminescent literary fiction that lingers in my mind, tending to stay with stories that steer clear of poignancy or social relevance. That does not mean that at least some good stories cannot be found in the pages of the magazine. Humor and adventure abound for those who prefer short fiction in those flavors. In this issue, there is one excellent comedy, one story that is socially controversial and is written in a literary style, and one other story that I felt was outstanding.

"Gun Control" is a humorous science fiction tale. In the story an unlikely hero faces overwhelming and unfavorable odds with the assistance of his wits and a seemingly unreliable AI gun. Author Edward Muller's opening was perfect; I felt it struck just the right tone with humorous imagery, and it snared me immediately. Muller also conjured up a fair back-story with his use of setting and plot, which was extra icing on an already good cake.

Mike Moscoe disturbed me slightly with "The Strange Redemption of Sister Mary Ann." I give him credit for having the stones to pen a well-written story about the souls of eggs that "failed to implant, failed to thrive," or the ones that were aborted, but I deduct points for the overtones of theologic condemnation. In Moscoe's story a woman dying of cancer decides to spend her last days as a nun. Mary Ann regrets the loss of the fertilized eggs that "didn't take" when she had children via a fertility treatment. The "souls" of the lost "children" seem to be visiting her as she is nearing death. Moscoe tries to temper this story of Catholic guilt by adding supporting character Rana, a hard-case nun with a heart of gold, but the religious presumption that a sentient being is created at conception was enough to mire this possible fantasy story more into the realm of theology. The writing was excellent, literary in style, and filled with charged imagery, but the subject matter seems likely to bother both progressives who may feel that the conception claim is unsupportable, and conservatives who may feel that Moscoe is too apologetic about the beliefs of the church.

"Extra Innings" is outstanding literary science fiction steeped in nostalgia. The story seems to have been informed by some of author Robert Scherrer's own experiences; I'd bet an ice-cold glass of lemonade that the author played a lot of "Strategy League Baseball" in his day. Maybe I'm a sucker for "an old friendship that never quite died," but this story left me with a lingering good feeling and I highly recommend it. My favorite line: "The cold, dry air from the wall vent blew across their faces, and that summer, the long Indian summer of the universe, stretched before them like an infinite ocean of time."

In summary, this issue of Analog was made worth reading, in my opinion, by the excellent humor of "Gun Control," the controversy of "Redemption," and the flawless "Extra Innings." Humor and adventure are available in the other stories, but the flaws in those tales kept them from being memorable for me.


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