Rachel Pollack–author of "Immortal Snake," the cover story of our May 2008 issue–said in an interview that the story was inspired by a famous African myth known as The Ruin of Kasch. "I read it in Joseph Campbell’s book Primitive Mythology, but it appears to be centuries old," Pollack said. "I first read it in 1966, and it has haunted me for decades. So this is a story I’ve wanted to write for a very long time."
Pollack said that the plot is entwined with the setting: an imaginary kingdom where true power rests with astrologer priests known as Readers, for their ability to read "God’s handwriting in the sky," to tell them when anything has to happen. "The king, who is always called Immortal Snake, rules in great luxury until the terrible day when the Readers decide the Snake must shed his skin in a ritual death," she said.
Kevin N. Haw–author of "Render Unto Caesar," which appears in our April 2008 issue–said in an interview that the story is about a computer character from an online medieval adventure game–specifically, Duchess Willhelmia Bloodfang Elfbane, a seven foot tall female troll–being audited by the IRS for not reporting her income. "It’s a single scene, but shows her discomfort at dealing with the IRS and eventually arrives at an agreement of mutual benefit to both parties…and to the detriment of most taxpayers," Haw said.
Duchess Willhelmia Bloodfang Elfbane is a seven foot tall, green skinned troll with three inch canine fangs, a "Digital American" who normally lives inside an massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). "Her day to day life is pretty simple: stay at the top of Troll Mountain, wait for players (‘meaties’) to come on up, and then scream at the top of her lungs and charge them with her axe swinging, intent on decapitation," Haw said. "Sometimes she wins, sometimes she loses. In any case, she’s resurrected every hour or so, ready to go at it again after taking a break ‘backstage’ with her girlfriends to gossip over chamomile tea and complain about the lack of quality men amongst their coworkers. The hours are lousy and the pay is nonexistent, but she’s good at her job. She’d better be, since that’s what she was created to do."
The podcast StarShipSofa has a new episode up focused on F&SF:
Today the StarShipSofa blasts off into the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Join Tony as he guides the Sofa across all the years of the magazines long life, from it’s initial concept with editors Anthony Boucher and J Francis McComas, to present editor and publisher Gordon Van Gelder. Get ready… Blast Off!
Go have a listen. [MP3 link]
John Kessel, author of “Pride and Prometheus” from the Jan. 2008 issue of F&SF, has a number of podcasts available on his website for your listening pleasure. This includes the F&SF stories Pride and Prometheus, Part 1 & Part 2 and Every Angel is Terrifying, as well as others. His website also features some free fiction in HTML (prose) format, including the F&SF story “Herman Melville: Space Opera Virtuoso”.
He (or she) says a number of very kind things about F&SF in the process, such as:
- "The fact that so many stories from F&SF over the years are known well beyond the usual sf/fantasy-outside world barrier attests to the quality of the fiction published by F&SF. In my mind, it remains the premiere magazine for sf/fantasy."
- "F&SF has been the most reliable source for sweet fiction of the last six decades, and there’s every indication that will continue for the foreseeable future."
Go have a look at the whole piece, it’s a nice overview.