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Electric Velocipede, Number 4
Electric Velocipede, Number 4
Electric Velocipede
Electric Velocipede is available by subscription ($10US -- USA, $15US -- Canada, $20US -- elsewhere) or by single issue ($3US -- USA, $4.50US -- Canada, $6US -- elsewhere). Send you order to and make money orders/cheques payable to:
John Klima
c/o Electric Velocipede
PO Box 663
Franklin Park, NJ 08823

Electric Velocipede

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Martin Lewis

Electric Velocipede is the well-regarded fanzine edited and published by John Klima. It is very much an old school production: black and white and stapled. The format is a little square for my tastes but the layout itself is nice and clean. The only presentational flaw is the habit of ending each story with the word "fin." When writing in English, this really isn't something that should persist beyond adolescence.

The lead story is "The Ship" by Jay Caselberg, a writer whose star is in ascendance, at the moment. The psychological damage of its protagonist acts as a veil to obscure the adultery and murder which takes place off stage and, as such, the story gives an interesting take on the old theme of space psychosis, though occasionally Caselberg plays his hand too openly. Stepan Chapman is the big name of the issue providing "Fat Nate's Master Plan", a humorous story of insect gangsters in the mode of Paul Di Filippo. It's slight but written with wit, verve and skill. Beth Adele Long's "The Rose Thief" concerns a mysterious breed of thieves who descend on rose bushes to consume their petals. This premise sounds worryingly whimsical but Long's prose has an icy quality that makes for a very strong story:

"Rose thieves love beauty. They love to find it, take it, own it. They wear classy hats and elaborate underwear. They believe in their right to possess. They move like water."
Also of interest are Nina DeGraff's dumb but sparky AI story "Dash For Cover" and Kevin L. Donihe's despairing tale of digital humanity, "Paul And The Computer".

Elsewhere in the issue we are presented with opaque slipstream, queasy semi-satire, po-faced post-apocalyptic SF and, in the case of Mark Rich's "Catch and Release", an obvious, one joke short short. None of these present the reader with anything to get overly excited about.

Electric Velocipede also publishes poetry, which in this issue is of markedly lesser quality than the prose. Several of the pieces are simply haikus, a form the editor is keen on but which I am less convinced about. Added to this is the fact that the author of the two longer pieces, Christina Sng, doesn't seem to understand that poetry is more than a case of inserting a line break every half dozen words.

Although this issue is not particularly strong content-wise, the nine stories plus poetry and non-fiction still probably offers value for money. Klima is clearly selecting interesting material for Electric Velocipede but unfortunately the execution of the stories presented here is decidedly hit and miss.

I'd also like to place this review in the context of other reviews of Electric Velocipede, particularly Trent Walters overview of the first three issues in this publication. In it he writes: "I get upset alongside (or sometimes for) the writers or editors, when they have done something well, get slighted by a cursory or negative review without substantiating precisely why." It probably won't have escaped the reader's notice that this could be applied to my review as could his other criticism of "giving a paltry handful of paragraphs mention... (averaging a sentence per work)." Why then have I chosen to ignore Walter's specific criticism? Criticism can take many forms and a review is only one of them. In my view sustained, in-depth criticism can only be applied to a substantial body of work (regardless of its quality) and Electric Velocipede #4 simply does not meet this criterion. Instead of a critical essay I offer a review that is a brief, personal assessment of the fanzine, in the manner of Rich Horton's previous reviews.

Copyright © 2003 Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis reviews for The Telegraph And Argus, The Alien Online and Matrix, the newsletter of the British Science Fiction Association. He lives in North London.

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