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F&SF, July 1993

Over the past year or so, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF blog, where they can easily be found under the “F&SF History” tag. We also share them on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1993 art by Stephen Gervais#TBT to the July 1993 issue of F&SF. The cover by Stephen Gervais illustrates “Justice” by Elizabeth Hand. Gervais is probably most famous for his illustrations of Stephen King’s work and won the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 1984.

The issue leads with “Paperjack,” a Newford novelet by Charles de Lint – it’s a poignant urban fantasy about love and loss. First published as a Cheap Street chapbook edition of 137 copies, it was reprinted by F&SF and Tor and nominated for a 1993 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella.

The middle part of the issue contains a variety of stories, with a slight leaning toward science fiction.

“The Woman in the Painting” by Lisa Goldstein is an epistolary tale set in the 19th century with a painter and his shape-shifting model. It deals with themes of women changing themselves to meet other’s needs, and was reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 1994.

“The Folks” by Michael Cassutt is science fiction about an awkward family reunion in a near future US dominated by aging populations. Twenty-three years later, Cassutt’s story reads less like science fiction and more like a piece of humorous literary realism.

“As Wise as Serpents,” Stephen Dedman’s first appearance in F&SF, is an amusing story about alien invaders, parasites, and cats.

“Catch the Wotan!” by Michael Armstrong is a hard sf survival story about a man who gets spaced by the crew of his interstellar ship. It’s a good example of the genre, in conversation with “Marooned Off Vesta,” which holds up well and feels like an overlooked story even if it’s not necessarily a classic.

“Eidelman’s Machine” by Dale Bailey is his first published story and one of the stories he wrote when he attended Clarion in 1992. Many of his strengths as a writer, particularly his prose and his attention to character, are evident in this story. “Night Vision” by Robert Frazier, who is better known as a poet, began as a 20-page poem which he turned into this short story.

The issue closes with “Justice” by Elizabeth Hand, a novelet that mixes the crime and spec fic genres, and foreshadow’s Hand’s later shift to writing suspense. It was reprinted in Best New Horror 5 and also appears in Hand’s collection Last Summer at Mars Hill and Other Stories.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s editorial talks about readers’ letters and reactions to stories and the need for immediacy in conversation. Instead of letter columns, she recommends “computer bulletin boards” as the future of short fiction discussions. It seems like she was onto something there!

The books column by John Kessel, who reviewed for F&SF from 1993-1995, provides a still potent analysis of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars. Gregory Benford’s “A Scientist’s Notebook” takes another look at time machines, which, along with a handful of cartoons, rounds out the issue.

Interview: Lavie Tidhar on “The Vanishing Kind”

Tell us a bit about “The Vanishing Kind.”

It’s a noir novella, set a few years after the end of a Second World War when the Nazis are rebuilding London, and concerns the arrival of an ex-soldier and screenwriter in the city who is searching for a missing ex-flame. It was fun to write – admittedly my sense of “fun” is a bit messed up, especially as it comes after writing a novel – A Man Lies Dreaming – where Adolf Hitler is a disgraced private detective, but there you go! I’m really happy with it, though. It felt important to write.

 

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I guess it was sort of the opposite of what I was doing in A Man Lies Dreaming, where Hitler never came to power. Really I had the strong visual image first, and the idea floating around for a long time before I actually sat down to write it. Once I finally did it went very fast, surprisingly so for me. I find it really interesting to combine the sort of grubby, minor – almost domestic, I suppose – concerns of noir fiction with some sort of an alternate history background, and how they tie together. Sort of an opportunity to look at historical processes through a focused lens – the little details, not the big picture, if that makes sense. And it was a relief to finally get it out after all that time it’s been nagging me.

 

Could you tell us at all about the other books you have published recently – A Man Lies Dreaming; Art & War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction; Central Station.

So I talked a bit above about A Man Lies Dreaming, obviously – sort of a metafictional noir alternate history novel about a pulp writer in Auschwitz who *may* be dreaming the sordid noir adventures of “Wolf”, a German detective on the streets of London that is fast filling up with refugees – and the political backlash that results from that. Frighteningly prophetic, in hindsight. But the mood was there all along, of course. It was hard not to tap into it. Weirdly, it feels as contemporary for the US right now as it did for the UK. But to me, to be honest, it’s a sort of black comedy, the novel. I think humour is really important in underlying the real darkness. It’s out now in the US from Melville House in hardcover.

Central Station’s almost the exact opposite of that. It’s a project I’ve worked on for several years – individual chapters were published in magazines like Interzone and Analog – not F&SF, alas! – and it’s much more of a quiet character study, set in a future Tel Aviv, at the base of a Cordwainer Smith-like spaceport. It’s that sort of Golden Age future, in a way – bright and optimistic – we didn’t kill ourselves or the planet! – but people just get on with their lives like they always did. Also, I suspect it includes science fiction’s only circumcision-performed-by-a-robot scene, so there’s that if nothing else! That’s out from Tachyon right now.

Art & War is my first non-fiction book, a book-length conversation my friend, the author and poet Shimon Adaf. We discuss quite a wide variety of things, including science fiction – I consider Shimon’s novel, Kfor (“Frost”, not, sadly, translated into English) a genuine masterpiece and it’s had a huge influence on my own work. The book also comes with two short stories that were themselves written in dialogue. I was very happy we got the opportunity to write it! That’s put out by Repeater Books, which is a sort of very cool counterculture imprint put out by the same publisher as Angry Robot.

 

Where do you see “The Vanishing Kind” in relation to the cannon of “what if Germany had won the war?” speculative fiction?

I haven’t thought of it that much, as I usually have fairly little interest in “Hitler Won” stories – though I’m a big fan of PKD’s The Man In The High Castle, of course. It was a bit of a surprise for me to write one! (The novel, as I mentioned, is a “Hitler Lost” novel, which is a far rarer variation in speculative fiction, for obvious reasons…). In a way it’s a challenge – it’s combining two different genres, the noir story on the one hand and the speculative element on the other, and throwing in my otherwise sort of always there metafictional elements and the political angle, so quite a lot to juggle, I suppose. None of my works belong solely in one genre, so I guess it depends on the readers to decide.

 

What are you working on now?

I tend to work on multiple things at once – at the moment I’m playing with my take on the Western novel, and my take on a “horror” novel, I guess you could say, plus another work of pure science fiction which will kind of take a different tack to Central Station, and hopefully explore a few things we rarely see in the genre at the moment. We’ll see! With regards to what my next published novel will be, I couldn’t currently tell you, but I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ve also got a bunch of stories coming out, including a novelette at Tor.com (which is sort of my take on space opera!) and another in Gardner Dozois’ new anthology, The Book of Swords. I hope, one day, I’ll also get to sleep!

 

“The Vanishing Kind” appears in the July/August 2016 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the July/August 2016 issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1607.htm

You can subscribe to F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

Interview: David Gerrold on “The Thing on the Shelf”

Tell us a bit about “The Thing on the Shelf.”

“The Thing on the Shelf” is part of a series I call “The Further Adventures of David Gerrold.” These are first person narratives, all starting off from something that actually happened in my life, so the first part of the story is usually true, with occasional embellishments, until the moment it all goes wonky, and then the narrative just stumbles off wherever it wants to go. (Previous examples include “Night Train to Paris,” “The Thing in the Back Yard,” and “Entanglements.”)

The Stoker Award itself is a beautifully designed trophy, it’s a little haunted house. You can sit there marveling at the details for a long time, and pretty soon, your imagination starts fizzing. In my case, I kept wondering what would happen if I could really open the front door and peek inside. Who would live inside this mansion? I still don’t know, they moved out when I got too nosy.

 

Early on in the story you write, “Writing is arrogant.  Writing comes from the assumption you have something to say and it’s worth saying – and worth other people’s attention.  Not just their attention, their time and their money too.”  And at a later point in the story, you (or this fictional you) bemoan your lack of a unique voice or style, unless you have become the “self-deprecating Marcel Proust of Fantasy & Science Fiction.”  Given that “The Thing on the Shelf” appears at least semi-autobiographical, would you say that this story serves as a primer for your thoughts on writing, the science fiction field, and your own writing in particular?  And if not, could you give your opinions on all those?

I think the paragraphs in the story pretty much sum it up.

Writing might be arrogant, but I think it’s a mistake for writers to be arrogant. We’re begging people for their time and their money. The readers aren’t just the audience, they’re our partners in creation. That’s the heart and soul of fandom — partnership. Fans can be an incredible resource for searching out information, ideas, and possibilities of all kinds. Even the most casual remark can unleash a tsunami of wonderful speculation. That’s where some of the best stories come from.

 

How does your general experience of attending genre conventions match up with the World Horror Convention as described in “The Thing on the Shelf”?

It’s hard to compare. Every convention has its own flavor. I like the conventions that are organized and run by fans — not for profit but for the love of the genre. Everyone is there to have fun and the enthusiasm just bubbles over. The Worldcon is the same thing on a grander scale, because it encompasses so many different subgenres. But the Horror Writers’ convention, Stokercon, assumes a narrower focus, so it feels like an elegant gathering at the Addams Family mansion.

 

What are you working on now?  In particular, how is work going on “A Method for Madness,” the 5th book in your Chtorran cycle?

The book is essentially finished — almost. There are two or three chapters I still want to write — then I have to edit it all down to a less manageable mess. It’s the heart and soul of the entire saga, not just because we find out who and what is at the heart of this ecological invasion, but also because we finally get to the heart and soul of Jim McCarthy. I might be biased, but I think it’s some of my best writing yet. It’s also very very different than everything that came before.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s fun to take a break from the longer work. I’ve discovered a new passion for short stories. The exploration of a single self-contained incident can be as powerful as a novel. In the past few years, the short story form seems to have exploded, going so many new places that it’s dazzling.

I open a new issue of the magazine, and I read with my jaw hanging open. I’m left with admiration for what so many other writers are attempting and achieving — and I admit to no small amount of jealousy. It’s like being poked with a pitchfork from behind. “Work harder if you want to keep up.” I think we’re in a new Golden Age of fantasy and science fiction and I’m enjoying it enormously.

 

“The Thing on the Shelf” appears in the July/August 2016 issue of F&SF.

You can purchase a copy of the July/August 2016 issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1607.htm

You can subscribe to F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

F&SF, July 1979

Over the past year, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1979 art by Barclay Shaw‪#‎TBT‬ to the July 1979 F&SF. The Barclay Shaw cover illustrates “Jumping the Line” by Grania Davis.

The issue opens with “Red as Blood” by Tanith Lee. It was nominated for the 1980 BFA and Nebula Awards. Lee was already an established novelist but this Snow White variation was her first story published in F&SF.

That’s followed by “Jumping the Line” by novelist Grania Davis, also her first story in F&SF. It’s a vivid allegorical tale about waiting for rewards.

Next up is “The Mountain Fastness” by Phyllis Eisenstein, a tale of Alaric the Minstrel and the first new one to follow Born To Exile. (There’s a brand new Alaric story in the July/Aug F&SFcheck it out.)

The rest of the issue has a mix of sf and fantasy, serious work and humor. “The View from Endless Scarp,” a space colonization story, by Marta Randall is also her first appearance in F&SF. “Taming of the Shrew” by Herbie Brennan is a murder mystery with an sf solution. “The Trip of Bradley Oesterhaus” by psychologist Felix C. Gotschalk is written in his typically idiosyncratic voice and style. “A Modern Magician” by Olaf Stapledon is a posthumous first publication of an unpublished story discovered in his papers. It’s the story of a man who develops supernatural powers but lacks the maturity to use them wisely. It has echoes with the discovery of atomic power.

The issue’s fiction closes with “Prose Bowl,” a story about the New-Sport of competitive writing, by Bill Prozini and Barry N. Malzberg.

George Zebrowski reviews Soviet sf in translation (Lem, Strugatsky), and Brad Searles covers sf on tv (“Battlestar Gallatica,” “Mork and Mindy”). There’s also a Gahan Wilson cartoon and Isaac Asimov’s science column (discussing which stars are visible from which parts of Earth).

This issue ends with a letters column full of readers angry about Joanna Russ’s critique of Lord of the Rings, and Russ’s gracious reply. “I’m glad to see people who feel strongly about what they read and who write to a magazine when they disagree vehemently,” Russ wrote. Her longer reply, “In Defense of Criticism,” was published in the November 1979 issue and reprinted in Best of F&SF 23rd Series (1980).

F&SF, July 1965

Over the past year, we’ve been doing a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) feature on the F&SF Twitter account and Facebook page. For the new year, we thought it might be good to add them here where they can be easily found under the “F&SF History” tag.

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Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1965, cover by Jack Vaughn‪#TBT‪ to the July 1965 issue of F&SF and this Jack Vaughn illustration for Avram Davidson’s “Rogue Dragon.”‬

‪Based on the cover, you’d think “Rogue Dragon” was a fantasy story but it’s far future SF where Earth is set aside as a nature preserve. Davidson’s novella was nominated for the 1966 Nebula Award. The expanded novel version was also nominated for the Nebula… the same year! (Did that ever happen any other time?) “Rogue Dragon” takes up nearly half the issue (58 of 128 pages) and is a fun adventure story filled galactic empires, dragons, and nomad poets.

The next story in the issue is “The Expendables” by Miriam Allen DeFord. Despite the same title, it’s not the basis for Sylvester Stallone’s movie. DeFord’s story is, instead, about a risky first mission to Mars, where old astronauts (their average age is 75) have been chosen because they’re expendable. Although the story was translated into German as “Die Expedition der Alten” in 1966, it hasn’t ever been reprinted as far as I can tell.

“The Eight Billion” by Richard Wilson is about the King of New York in an hyperbolically overpopulated world where 8 billion people live underground. (World population was around 3 billion when the story was written. We’re very close to 8 billion people now but still no King of New York! #cheated)‬ “The Eight Billion” was much reprinted and nominated for the Nebula for short story but lost to ‘”Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman.’‬

It’s followed by “Becalmed in Hell,” a Known Space story by Larry Niven, which was also nominated for the short story Nebula that year. Niven’s first F&SF story was about a man and a brainship stranded on a flight to Venus; it was a sequel to “The Coldest Place” (IF, Dec 1964). “Becalmed in Hell” was included in Wollheim’s and Carr’s World’s Best Science Fiction 1966 and has been reprinted dozens of times.

The last story in the issue is “A Murkle for Jesse,” an Irish-flavored fantasy set in Vermont, written by historical novelist Gary Jennings.‬


The issue rounds out with science columns by Theodore Thomas (computers for medical diagnosis) and Isaac Asimov (Fermat’s Last Theorem),‬ Judith Merrill’s book reviews (Vonnegutt, Ballard, Vance, and others), a cartoon by Gahan Wilson, and a sonnet (“The Pterodactyl”) by Philip Jose Farmer.‬


Farmer’s poem ends the issue with this: “…press‬
Form’s flesh around thought’s rib, and so derive‬
From the act of beauty, beauty of the act.”‬

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