August Short Fiction

Aug 9, 17:44 by IROSF
A thread to discuss short fiction.

Lois' reviews can be found here
Aug 9, 21:06 by twosheds
Concerning RoF, I had the opposite reaction to “Grand Mal.” It’s been a month or more since I read it, but in the martin I had written “not much of a punch at the end.” I had to do a quick re-read to remember why. The author gave me no emotion at the deaths of Jimmy’s friend and his girl friend. If the character doesn’t seem to care, should the reader? Also, Rita’s ending (her function) seemed obvious as soon as she was introduced as a love interest.

I loved “Of Metal Men” but, oh Lois! Did you miss something a thousand times more egregious than the fig problem? (which I didn’t notice). It involves the lay out, but not the title. If a reader followed this story exactly as the magazine directed, it wouldn’t have made any sense. Oh hell, I’ll just say it. The reader is directed from p. 51 to go to p. 90. where the story ends. But that’s not right! I (and a bunch of other readers I’m betting) should’ve gone to p. 84. I was total confused by this ending until I realized this mistake.

I had a few of the same questions about “The Cold Drake” story that you did. Certain characters disappeared or appeared without a lot of logic. My biggest problem was a lack of emotion throughout—no feel for the relationships. I had a disconnect. (But I liked the theme of emergence).

The “Hero” story constantly pointed me to the ending. (It’s all about the ending. Everything will be revealed in the ending). But the ending didn’t meet expectations.

I liked “True North.” I saw it as an allegorical piece about teenage emergence (another emergence theme). But it didn’t seem to know when to end.

I kept reading “Indigo” hoping for kinky sex scenes, alas. But seriously, it kept me reading, but I thought Noriko was conveniently and archetypically (?) evil in the end.
Aug 9, 21:39 by Lois Tilton
I guess I've given up on expecting much of RoF's layout, so that by the time I was doing the review I didn't recall the page problem. I never have liked "continued on ..." layout in the first place.

It was the crazy unreadable titles that got to me this time. Typography is there to serve the text, not as a thing Kewell In Itself.

I did like a lot about the Metal Men story, but the villain was really a bigger problem than the anomalous fig.

Aug 10, 09:31 by Bluejack
Hah. RoF strikes again.

I haven't seen the current issue, so I can't speak to the crazy unreadable titles. I think that often RoF does a pretty good job of Kewell typography that is still readable, but occasionally they do cross that line.

But every couple of issues they have one of those layout glitches that is pretty near unforgivable. I still remember the issue where they cut off the last line of two stories, one of which was basically ruined because of it.
Aug 10, 13:46 by Juliette Wade
I often find the titles of the stories hard to find or hard to read when I find them because of their choice of font and layout. I see what they're trying to achieve, though, and I guess it's a fine line between cool/unusual and incomphrehensible.
Aug 10, 15:09 by Lois Tilton
The title of the Schweitzer story is done in some kind of shaky script. The first two words are fairly readable as "The Hero", which is the title listed in the ToC. But there is a third word in the title, which I simply can't make out what it's supposed to say. "spoke" is my guess.

The Metal Man story has this apocalyptic 2-page illustration in tones of dark orange and red shading to black - quite striking. However, the title and blurb [printed sidewise along the outside margin of the page] are done in the same tones, so you have the title in dark red on black, all two lines-worth of it.

Bibliographically speaking, this creates a real problem when the ToC says something else. What are the actual titles of these pieces? And why not print all three words of the title of the Hero story in the ToC? There is certainly room.

Readablility-wise, the Metal Man story is another one with the white type on black [first line in orange to match the color scheme], but it's only the first couple of paras, the rest of the pages are black on white, as type should be. It was IZ doing the ENTIRE PIECE that way that set me off there.

These things aren't glitches, they're the deliberate choice of a designer with malice aforethought.

Aug 10, 19:44 by Ron Dwyer
I am appreciative of the reviews of the 'zines. These were the first time I heard of them. The cover art of the zines make a pleasing impression.
Perhaps the IRSF can present and discuss science fiction art for future issues.
Aug 10, 20:34 by twosheds
These same observations extend to the "Indigo" story too. There's a great piece of companion art for this story set in Japan, but then the first page of the story is set on its side to mimic Japanese writing style (reading and writing right to left). Sure, the reader just turns it to read it, but isn't the editor adding an artistic dimension to the writing itself that the author did not intend? I'm not saying the author didn't approve; I don't know. But the author's "art" is in the words, not in how they're displayed (in most cases).
Aug 10, 20:38 by Lois Tilton
I'm glad you find the reviews interesting, Ron. Bluejack had been doing these since forever before he kicked himself upstairs to management.
Aug 11, 07:03 by Juliette Wade
I love being able to read these reviews, myself, because I don't have a lot of time for reading short fiction in general (dividing time between children and my own writing). It's really valuable to me to have a concise and insightful assessment, and that's usually what sends me back to particular issues and particular stories. So thanks to Ms. Tilton for all her hard work.
Aug 11, 07:13 by Lois Tilton
I'm glad you find the reviews helpful, Juliette!
Aug 14, 14:21 by Mike Emery
Was there a reason ASIMOV'S wasn't covered this month?
Aug 14, 17:59 by Bluejack
Yep, we didn't receive the September issue in time to include it.

After a conversation with the Asimov's editorial staff, however, we will be getting advance copies in the future.
Aug 15, 11:40 by Mike Emery
Thanks for clarification. There is very little discussion of current short fiction & it helps to have this info available.

On the Tiptree book--it's amazing. I never thought I would see published a sophisticated, full-scale biography of a genre writer I worshipped in the '70s.


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