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Jeff VanderMeer A Conversation With Jeff VanderMeer
An interview with Nick Gevers
On squids:
"A squid is a sophisticated creature with many attributes far superior to human beings. For example, although I can blush from embarrassment or whatever, I can't so control my skin that I can change the color and pattern of it at the drop of a hat. Neither can I use one of my eyes as a flashlight like some squid can. Nor can I automatically neutralize the effects of nerve gas when they come into contact with my neurons. Of course, I'm also not likely to wind up in the stomach of a sperm whale like Giant Squid do, so there are certainly trade-offs."

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Ian Nichols
This is more an invitation than a book. It is an invitation to wake up in Ambergris, after dreaming of Earth. That is, in fact, a theme in one of the four novellas which compose its first section. In "The Strange Case of X," a writer, confined to an asylum in Chicago, must explain to a psychiatrist his delusions regarding the imaginary city of Ambergris. But which city is the delusion? Ambergris or Chicago. As the story progresses, the reader becomes unsure of which is which, and their own location becomes uncertain. Do they read of Ambergris on Earth, or do they read of the delusions of Earth in Ambergris?

Mindworlds Mindworlds by Phyllis Gotlieb
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Dipping into one of this author's novels is like the first dive into a dark, icy lake; it takes some getting used to, and every now and then you might feel in over your head, but if you relax, you can let the current wash through and absorb you. This book is her latest plunge into that territory you may not know already, but you could very well end up wanting to remain. If you missed the first two volumes in this series: Flesh and Gold and Violent Stars you might experience more of those moments of deep water, it is far too pleasurable to climb out before the end.

Geeks With Books Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw gives us a look at how things work from behind the counter of a book store. This time, he tells us about the anthology: the single best tool to expose fans to new writers. He shares with us how he came to love this form and how he uses it to turn bookstore walk-ins into regulars.

Permanence Permanence by Karl Schroeder
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
Set in the 25th century, when humanity has settled dozens of extrasolar planets -- the so-called "lit worlds" -- and thousands of brown-dwarf colonies -- the halo worlds. All the colonies were linked by big starships -- the cyclers -- each travelling a fixed circuit of worlds. The cyclers never stop, as the energy cost to boost them is too high. Ultra-light shuttles transfer passengers, crew and cargo at each port. The recent discovery of FTL travel is cheaper than the sub-light speed cyclers, so the halo worlds' economies, and the Cycler Compact, are near collapse. It gets worse...

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
In his column, Rick offers his thoughts on what is worth watching this summer on television. Also, he has put together a 2001-2002 episode guide for Star Trek: Enterprise, and The X-Files. Check it out, print off a copy of each one and keep them handy for the summer reruns.

...is this a cat? ...is this a cat?
reviewed by Steven H Silver
The premise of this one-off chapbook appears to be that the editor has asked several friends to answer that question with regard to a photograph of his cat, Portnoy. Some of the authors replied with short stories about Portnoy, while others sent drawings, non-fiction, or even a crossword puzzle.

Raising the Stones Raising the Stones by Sheri S. Tepper
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Sam Girat is the Topman of Settlement One, a small agricultural community on the newly-opened planet of "Hobbs Land." Although Sam is well respected and good at his job, he is haunted by memories of his father back in Voorstod, the land his mother fled when he was a small child. Sam yearns for legends, heroism and especially "fatherhood", something which plays no role in his matrilineal society. Meanwhile, a mystery in Hobbs Land is catching the attention of various authorities.

Jenna Starborn Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Jenna Starborn isn't born, but made, in the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus. But the woman who purchased her neglects and mistreats her, and at last she's removed from her abusive home and sent to a charity school, the Technical and Engineering Academy on the planet Lora. Here she follows her talent for science, and becomes a generator maintenance technician. For someone like Jenna, a half-citizen in a rigidly caste-conscious interplanetary society where a person's worth and prospects are defined by his or her grade of citizenship, a life of hard and honest work is the best she can hope for.

 Vox: SF For Your Ears Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, he has been listening to Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, Star Wars: The New Jedi Order -- Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore and Star Wars: The New Jedi Order -- Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham.

Infinity Plus One Infinity Plus One edited by Keith Brooke and Nick Gevers
reviewed by William Thompson
Perhaps not surprisingly considering the authors' past work, 4 stories come to dominate this collection: the opening tale by Michael Swanwick, Jeff VanderMeer's comparatively eccentric ghost story, a light and singularly voiced parable from Paul Di Filippo, and a subterranean delving of the lunar surface by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Yet 4 outstanding stories out of 13 is far from an equitable average, and significantly underscores the uneven quality that typifies the rest of this collection.

The Last Hawk The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Prince Kelricson (brother of the ruler of the Skolian Empire) crashes his crippled spacefighter on an obscure planet named Coba. Seriously wounded, Kelric is hoping to send an SOS so he can be rescued, but the Cobans who find him have other ideas. Thanks to a bureaucratic oversight, Coba has escaped Imperial occupation and the Cobans are happy that way. If they let Kelric return to the Empire, he will take news with him that will forever end Coba's political and cultural autonomy.

Apprentice Cruise Apprentice Cruise by Jack Bagley
reviewed by A.L. Sirois
The story begins at an unspecified future time with the graduating class of cadets from the Forces Command Interstellar Fleet Academy. The focus is on Midshipman Ryan Lee and his classmates Joe Carfaro, Everett "Jeff" Jefferson, and Michelle Mayorga. Prior to their first commissions, graduating cadets must take active positions for a yearlong "apprentice cruise" aboard Fleet ships. Ryan finds himself assigned to the FCSS Lovell, a scout vessel, as a gunnery trainee. He soon learns that Joe, Jeff and Michelle will also be shipping out aboard the Lovell.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
an excerpt
   "The hall contained the following items, some of which were later catalogued on faded yellow sheets constrained by blue lines and anointed with a hint of mildew:
24 moving boxes, stacked three high. Atop one box stood
1 stuffed black swan with banded blood-red legs, its marble eyes plucked, the empty sockets a shock of outrushing cotton (or was it fungus?), the bird merely a scout for the..."

SF Site News SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates. However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. He's begun a new column which will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.

Cult Cinema DVD Cult Cinema DVD
a contest
Universal has developed the Cult Cinema DVD Collection. It includes Legend, 12 Monkeys, Blood Simple, Dune, It Came From Outer Space, Silent Running, and The Thing.
Browse the page, answer the questions, win a prize. Easy, eh?

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Most action films have three big action set-pieces, one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. This movie has six or seven really big action sequences, and when it comes to action directors, George Lucas is one of the best.

Time and Chance Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
This book, a long time coming, deals with one of the most remarkable periods of medieval history. If the fiery relationship of Henry Plantagenet and his extraordinary Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was not enough, the book essentially re-tells one of the best known and most exciting historical stories ever recorded -- the "turbulent priest" Thomas Beckett and the Murder in the Cathedral.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
Recent arrivals this time around are virtually dominated by reprints, from classics by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Robert Asprin and Brian Stableford, to paperback releases of last year's hardcovers by Michael Moorcock, Alastair Reynolds, Sarah Zettel and George R.R. Martin. But fear not: there's plenty of shiny new stuff that looks interesting, too.

First Novels

Vurt Vurt by Jeff Noon
reviewed by Martin Lewis
A debut by unknown author for a tiny publishing house that had never released anything before, this book went onto achieve both critical and commercial success culminating in the Arthur C Clarke Award. Its biggest selling point is probably its fundamental oddness. It's almost like cyberpunk as written by someone who has never heard of computers. Though set in the near future, vaguely dystopic setting and lowlife, it is a long way from Gibson and Co.

Second Looks

The Time Ships The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
reviewed by David Maddox
It all began over one hundred years ago with a simple inventor and his fantastic creation, a machine constructed of brass rods and tubing, chronometric dials and a riding saddle. But this strange contraption had the ability to take its passenger backwards and forwards through the fourth dimension, time itself! Such was the premise of H.G. Wells' science-fiction classic The Time Machine originally published in 1895. But what happened to the Time Traveler at the end of the tale?

Forever Peace Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Julian Class is a "mechanic", a virtual soldier in America's war of 2043. 20 days a month Julian is a professor of mathematics in Houston. The other 10, thanks to his draft board, he's part of a Remote Infantry Combat Unit in Central America. Except that Julian doesn't fight with his own body. He and the other 9 members of his platoon are plugged in via remote neural connection to fighting machines. The mechanics themselves never leave base.

The Phantom Ship The Phantom Ship by Capt. Frederick Marryat
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Despite a number of preconceptions about this book and the fact that it was published at the tail end of the Gothic period (1838-39), Georges was sort of expecting William Hope Hodgson's Sargasso Sea tales meet the convoluted sentence structure of Ann Radcliffe. Not even close. The supernatural horror elements are minimal, no ravenous fungus-engulfed ships drifting crewless in becalmed waters, and only rare glimpses of the lost souls aboard the Flying Dutchman. It is far more a tragedy (in the classical sense) and a morality tale than a horror novel.

Grass Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
What Peter didn't remember about this book is the splendid sense of place she evokes -- Grass emerges as a fully-formed, beautiful, and thoroughly alien world. The formative image of Grass, to the Colorado-born & raised author, is that of the American Great Plains after a good spring, which is indeed an oceanic experience -- one that your Oklahoma-raised reviewer has shared, and misses.

The Shapes of Their Hearts The Shapes of Their Hearts by Melissa Scott
reviewed by Donna McMahon
This is a book that was a pleasure to review. Aside from the solid plot and characters, Donna hasn't seen any writer handle technology better. There is lots of gee-whiz high tech in her future galactic society, but characters don't stop to discuss it -- they USE it while they're getting on with their lives. The applications are very convincing, too. More than once she found myself thinking "Gee, I could really use one of those."

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