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Dispatches From Smaragdine: Finnish Fantasies, a (Small) Publishing Magnate, Parlayed Treasures Dispatches From Smaragdine: Finnish Fantasies, a (Small) Publishing Magnate, Parlayed Treasures
a column by Jeff VanderMeer
"In November, the brutal heat of the Smaragdine summer is usually gone for good and the city becomes giddy with the crisp month or two before the brutal winter. From the storied, overly marbled downtown with its mainly Central Asian embassies and state houses to the discos and merchant kiosks of the Palisade, Smaragdine is a friendly, more relaxed place. But it's also a long way from home, and so I thought I'd start this monthly column to tell you about the books that find their way to my mailbox here, and to comment on any exotic and strangely beautiful subjects or artifacts."

Year's Best Fantasy 6 Year's Best Fantasy 6 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Judith Merril launched her Best of the Year anthology series in the late-50s, just at a time when the magazine science fiction market was collapsing. At this remove, it is difficult to tell whether that was just a coincidence, but one might suspect that part at least of her intent was a compensatory widening of what was considered science fiction. Since then the science fiction and fantasy market has somehow managed to sustain one or at most two Best of the Year anthologies.

The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective by Harlan Ellison, edited by Terry Dowling with Richard Delap and Gil Lamont
reviewed by Jayme Lynn Blaschke
It is a curious phenomenon, being unable to discuss the prose without discussing the author. But such is the author's unique position -- the shadow he casts is a very large one indeed. The influence he has had on modern genre, direct or indirect, is immeasurable. To that extent, the title of this book is a straightforward case of truth-in-packaging: It is essential, essential for aspiring writers, veterans of the field, editors, fans... anyone with a desire for a thorough appreciation and understanding of SF.

The Small Picture The Small Picture
TV reviews by David Liss
Fall isn't what it used to be, and with cable networks running shows in the winter and summer, premieres and finales are now a year-long phenomenon. This fall is unusual in that the original big three US networks each has a science fiction program in the offing. These shows are obviously part of the post-Lost phenomenon.

The Hounds of Ardagh The Hounds of Ardagh by Laura J. Underwood
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
Ginny Ni Cooley is a half-trained mage, living in Tamhasg Wood, but not alone. She's got the company of Thistle, a doughty little terrier -- and there's also Manus MacGreeley, a ghost. She is well regarded by the villagers of nearly Conorscroft for her magical aid; life is racketing along comfortably enough (as comfortable as it can with a moody ghost who likes to talk) when a disturbance one night plunges them all into adventure and danger.

Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines by Karen Traviss
reviewed by David Maddox
The Galactic Alliance sits at a dangerous croscsroads. On one hand, they need to maintain order in a galaxy still recovering from war. On the other, too much implied force could result in turning into a perceived new version of the Empire. Jedi Knights lead by Grand Master Luke Skywalker attempt to keep Corellia from building a personal war machine and throwing the universe into turmoil. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Leia Organa-Solo find themselves viewed as traitors by both sides.

Rainbow Bridge Rainbow Bridge by Gwyneth Jones
reviewed by Stuart Carter
When we last saw them, the Triumvirate -- Ax, Sage and Fiorinda -- were at their lowest ebb following an incredible and utterly unstoppable invasion by the newly ascendant Chinese. The Rock'n'Roll Reich had been captured, were prisoners -- or worse, puppets -- of England's new overlords. Now there are friends to be rescued or mourned, post-apocalyptic rock'n'roll hordes to be calmed, invaders to be reassured regarding the realities of magic, and, as always, an entire country to be talked down from a very high ledge. Where do they find time to fit any music in?

Sequential Art Sequential Art
a column by Matthew Peckham
What if virtual reality was instead "reality" experienced virtually through remote-controlled bodies? Would crimes like rape or other forms of physical assault be felonies, or just "property damage"? What sort of world might it be if everyone locked themselves away and filled it with stand-ins? Top Shelf's new trade collection of Robert Venditti's The Surrogates mini-series explores those and other issues in a weird future where humans interact vicariously through robotic simulacrums.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the rejuvenation of Smallville. He also gives us a list of what to watch on TV in November.

Writers of the Future -- A Background Writers of the Future -- A Background
an article by Algis Budrys
Like other author-adventurers with names like Melville, Twain, London and Hemingway, L. Ron Hubbard's experiences and travels -- as an explorer and prospector, master mariner and daredevil pilot, philosopher and artist -- found their way through his writing into the fabric of popular fiction and into the currents of American culture for fifty years.

Second Looks

The Zap Gun The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick
reviewed by Rich Horton
The US and allies (Wes-Bloc) and the Soviet Union and allies (Peep-East) have secretly come to an agreement: instead of continuing the ruinous arms race, they will pretend to be constantly developing new weapons, which are then "plowshared": turned into goofy consumer products. The weapon designers are psychics, who dream up their new designs in trance states. The Wes-Bloc designer, Lars Powderdry, or Mr. Lars of Mr. Lars Incorporated is tortured by the knowledge that he is essentially a fraud -- his designs are useless.

First Novels

Vellum Vellum by Hal Duncan
reviewed by Sean Wright
This debut is the first in a two-book series about an epic war between demons and angels. It chronicles the history of the sophisticated, ancient and commanding civilization of Kur through Egyptian, Babylonian and East Indian myth as well as bitmites, cyber-avatars and warring bands of fallen angels, the unkin. Vellum is both a gateway to multiverse realities and a manual to a language of supremacy which can be both emblazoned in the skin and on the soul.

To Hold Infinity To Hold Infinity by John Meaney
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Set on Fulgar, a planet on the edge, both as a frontier and in its use of technology, the story begins with the disappearance of Tetsuo, a young man from Earth trying to build his own life on Fulgar. When his mother arrives for a visit, the story is set up as a tale of a mother looking for her estranged son. That changes when we meet Rafael, a Luculentus -- enhanced humans who have undergone surgery as children to augment their natural abilities, granting modes of thought and means of communication beyond that of humans -- and a serial killer.

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