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Paradox, Spring 2003

Paradox, Spring 2003
Paradox publishes both historical fiction and sci-fi/fantasy/horror with historical themes, as well as articles, news and reviews.

If you would like to subscribe to Paradox, a one-year subscription (three print issues plus one PDF issue) can be purchased for $15 in U.S.A. ($18 in Canada, $24 elsewhere), and a two-year subscription (six print issues plus two PDF issues) for only $27 in U.S.A. ($33 in Canada, $45 elsewhere). Or you can order a single copy of the debut print issue for $6 in U.S.A [$5 cover price plus $1 shipping] ($7 Canada, $9 elsewhere). It can be ordered online at their site or by mail from:
Christopher M. Cevasco
P.O. Box 22897
Brooklyn, NY 11202-2897

Paradox: The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Christopher M. Cevasco has begun to publish a new magazine, Paradox, with an emphasis on historical fiction and speculative fiction with an historical angle to it. In the first issue, these stories range from a brief interlude among foot soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars in Spain in Rita Oakes's "By Bayonet and Brush" to the neo-pagan beliefs associated with Celtic remnants in Ian Creasey's "The Chalk Giant."

The quality of the stories varies, with all being at least readable, if not always inspired. The strongest story Cevasco has selected is, not surprisingly, by Brian Stableford, the most established name in the first issue. "The Power of Prayer" is set in a mid-eighth century Aquitania when Christianity is quietly warring with paganism and a plague is sweeping through the village of Coramdram. Although Ophiria Brousse's irrational dislike for her husband leads to a story which appears to be telegraphed, Stableford provides an interesting twist surrounding an unlikable protagonist and the more sympathetic villagers who are seen through her eyes.

Stableford's tale is followed by James C. Stewart's "The Mnemosyne Deviation," which may be the weakest story in the magazine, and not just due to its placement following "The Power of Prayer." Written practically as a stream of consciousness piece, it appears clumsy and only tied in to the historical theme of the magazine by the most tenuous of threads. Its length, easily the longest story in the magazine, does not provide any strength to the piece.

Set in an ancient Greece with influence of H.G. Wells, we see the story of a boy, Icarus, who tries to flee from his abusive father, in the clumsily named "Icarus, his Father, and the Giant, Green Tentacled Thing That Fell from the Sky," by Robert J. Santa. Although the title telegraphs a humorous story, the tale contained therein is quite serious.

Arthurian legend is represented by "Grail Knight," which is Wendy A. Schaffer's recasting of the legend of Mordred and his relationship, not with Arthur, but with Lancelot, Elaine and Galahad. The story is presented well and Mordred comes across neither as the villain he is usually portrayed as, nor as an heroic figure, instead appearing human and, at times, petty, although he also shows signs of compassion.

The Crucifixion is represented by Alan Smale's "Golgotha," focusing not of Jesus, although he and his mother both appear in the story, but on Aaron, a beggar who is being crucified at the same time. Smale has written a story of occupation and rebellion which can be mapped on multiple levels to the current situation in Israel and the occupied territories, in which the Romans can represent either the Israelis or the Palestinians.

Although it might be assumed that a magazine devoted to historical fiction and speculative fiction about history would include an alternate history, such is not the case with the first issue of Paradox. The closest it comes is Brandon Alspaugh's "The Day They Killed Ceaucescu: A Memory of Ehrich Czorny, Age 9," in which the facts, as presented, don't quite match the historical facts, but their accuracy does not form an integral part of the story and can be dismissed as the misremembering of the title character.

The issue is rounded out by reviews of films and books, although some of the books do not have a particularly strong historical link, an interview with author Kevin Baker, and an essay on paradigms of history in writing speculative fiction, which tends to be dryer than could be desired and, perhaps, could use more explicit representations of essayist Greg Beatty's distinctions.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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