Buy F&SF • Read F&SF • Contact F&SF • Advertise In F&SF • Blog • Forum • RSS

F&SF, July 1991

Over the past couple years, we’ve been doing an irregular series of #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) features here 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.

* * *

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1991 art by Malgorzata Rapnicka#TBT to the July 1991 issue of F&SF. Malgorzata Rapnicka’s cover illustrates “Autumn Mist” by Nancy Springer.

This was Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s first issue as editor. Rusch begins the issue with an editorial, which would become a hallmark of her term as editor — she wrote more of them than anyone else, before or since. “I feel the weight of history tonight,” she writes near the beginning, and describes that history in both general and personal terms. She ends by calling F&SF “a magazine that has always shown us the future while letting us keep everything that is precious about our past.”

The intro for Springer’s cover story picks up the same theme and discusses how it “ties together the motifs of the issue: the need for change, for preserving the past, and the effect we have on our environment.”

The issue also includes stories by Michael Cassutt, Larry Tritten, Tony Daniel, Elizabeth Engstrom, Esther M. Friesner, and Kathe Koja. Rusch would become known for introducing many new writers to readers of F&SF: here, it’s with “Fetch Felix,” the first published story by Sally Caves, who also wrote a couple episodes for Star Trek — “Hollow Pursuits” on The Next Generation and “Babel” for Deep Space Nine.

The issue is rounded out with book reviews by Budrys and Card, a science column by Asimov, an F&SF competition, and several cartoons. The perfect mix of old and new, beginning a new era for the magazine.

Interview: Justin C. Key on “Afiya’s Song”

Justin C. KeyTell us a bit about “Afiya’s Song.”

Afiya’s Song is first and foremost an ode to my ancestry as a black person in America. However you define it, whatever successes I enjoy, my core identity as an African-American began with slavery here in the United States. That said, Afiya’s Song is the story of a young American slave woman who utilizes her ability to connect to her spiritual homeland through song to heal herself and others. In this healing she finds the strength and courage to lead a rebellion. Given the time period of the story, of course it is in part about the brutality and reality of slavery. But much more than that it’s a story about resilience, culture, and sacrifice.

 

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

Like a lot of writers, I am constantly jotting down ideas. The idea of a self-healing protagonist came to me several years ago, and somehow my mind wandered to ‘what if that person was alive in slavery times?’ I wrote a few pages down, with a male protagonist–just scattered scenes. I stopped and wondered what I was really adding to what had already been written about the time period. I didn’t want it to be a trunk story. I put it away. When I was accepted into Clarion West, the idea was one of the first that popped into my head as a potential piece. At Clarion we’re encouraged not to work on old stories, so I started fresh. I’m glad I did.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for “Afiya’s Song?”

My main resource was a book called ‘Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember’ by James Mellon. These were stories by former slaves, in their own words. One of the beauties of Clarion West was that I was able to fully immerse myself into writing and research. I’d read a little, and then write a scene or a stretch of dialogue, stepped away to breathe and digest, then write some more. My research gave me a glimpse not only into the everyday horrors of slavery, but also how people still found joy in their lives through song, community, and hope. Slavery is an ugly, real, and crucial part of our history, but even in its darkest hours there was still humanity present in every single story, every single life.

There’s also a bit of ‘life research’, if you will. My grandmother worked as a maid in Martinsville, a small city in the south of Virginia. Reading and watching and searching gave me the details and dialogue and politics of the time period, but a lot of the emotion was already present in the stories of my own family history, in one form or another.

 

You’ve said that you “felt this was the story I went to Clarion to write.”  Could you elaborate on that statement?

Clarion West was a great experience for myself and my classmates for many reasons. It gave us the time to write and read and fail and learn and grow. “Afiya’s Song” culminated a lot of what I learned at Clarion, not just about plot and character and dialogue, but also of perspective and responsibility. Our class constantly pushed each other to become better. For example, after my third week’s story, a classmate challenged me to try writing a story with a woman main character. Making that switch for Afiya’s Song helped me tackle a flaw in a lot of the mainstream stories set in this time: women used as tragic set pieces. Motivation. I wanted something more than that.

I don’t think I was ready to write this story when I first had the idea. At Clarion, I gained the perspective, introspection, skills, and confidence to give Afiya’s story justice.

 

What are you working on now?

For the last year I’ve mainly been working on a science fiction novella that takes place in a post-apocalyptic medical school. The idea sprang from my observations of health disparities throughout my medical training and delving into the history of medical experimentation on marginalized populations in America. I’ve been talking with an interested editor about developing a series for a major publishing house. I’m pretty excited about it.

I’m also working on a ‘sword & sorcery’ short based on the African Benin Empire that incorporates the Atlantic slave trade. To be clear, I definitely don’t want slavery to become a ‘gimmick’ in my writing, but after working on Afiya’s Song that period in time remains fresh in my mind, compounded by the current political climate. I love fantasy, and I hope to explore some of its elements through the African lens.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Writing something like this—and especially publishing it—made me nervous. After reading a final draft, a mentor warned me that I had to ready myself for potential backlash. Was I trying to imply that black people can only prevail through the use of magic? My goal was not and never will be to romanticize slavery. But as a 30-year-old (28 when I wrote it) father of two black boys who was taught little about this crucial part of our history in grade school, exploring this era and the emotions that come with it is part of my personal growth and journey. My hope is that by sharing part of this journey with others I can not only spark a reflection on our history, but also touch the essential parts of humanity that binds us across color lines.

 

“Afiya’s Song” appears in the July/August 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1707.htm

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

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Clicking on Dr. Key’s author photo (photo credit Rob Allen Photography) will take you to his website: http://www.justinckey.com

Interview: Marissa Lingen on “An Unearned Death”

Marissa LingenTell us a bit about “An Unearned Death.”

Valhalla is the really famous feasting hall for warriors in Norse myth, but if you keep reading sagas, you’ll find all sorts of different halls of the gods in them, some with odd details and some just mentioned in passing, oh, this is where so-and-so lives. Then in my Christian upbringing you hear the verse about, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions,” so I got to thinking about the housing arrangements of the afterlife, different destinations.

 

Is there anything you want to say about the background of this story or any inspirations for it?

I think I have spent more time with my older relatives than most people of my generation. Some of them are my inspiration in a very positive way. My grandfather died eight years ago, and I still miss him every day. I’m still lucky enough to be quite close with my grandmother and also with the great-aunt and -uncle who are my substitute grandparents on the other side of the family. They’re very involved in my life–I talk to them at least twice a week and see them often. And my husband’s grandfather is a science fiction fan from way back, so we can share that bond in addition to a more ordinary loving relationship. But there’s a flip side to that, too. There are other relatives who have not been the rosy distant vision of elder inspiration. Knowing them well has meant seeing all their warts.

I think sometimes we look at people past 100 and think, “They’ve had the time to gain so much wisdom and experience!” But having the time to do something and actually doing it are not the same thing. Sometimes someone who has been around that long has used their time to be just plain mean for longer. And then the question becomes: how can we be the people we want to be, with regards to them? How can we keep them from warping our own behavior?

 

What would you want a reader to take away from this story?

There’s no automatic card stamp on passion, compassion, or joy. You have to go find them right away and hang onto them as best you can.

 

What are you working on now?

Too many things! I have revisions going on a middle-grade novel, I’m working on an essay that should be out very soon, and once the revisions are done, it’s back to a novel for grown-ups, full of kelp dryads and were-sharks, sunken countries and political turmoil.

 

“An Unearned Death” appears in the July/August 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1707.htm

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

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Clicking on Ms. Lingen’s photo will take you to her website at http://www.marissalingen.com/

F&SF, July 1958

Over the past couple years, we’ve been doing an irregular series of #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) features here 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.

* * *

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1958 art by Barry Waldman#TBT to the July 1958 F&SF. Barry Waldman’s cover is for Ron Goulart’s story “The Katy Dialogues” about a robot actress and a slimy PR guy stranded in space.

The main story, and the last story in the issue, is “Theory of Rocketry” by C. M. Kornbluth, who died of a heart attack in March 1958 on his way to a job interview at F&SF. Kornbluth had been tapped to replace Anthony Boucher as editor of the magazine. He was only 34 years old. “Theory of Rocketry” was a Hugo finalist in 1959, along with 2 other Kornbluth stories. But this wasn’t his last published work: Kornbluth was so prolific that new stories, many finished by Frederik Pohl, continued to be published from his files until 1988. The full-page introduction to the story functions as a memorial to Kornbluth. A bibliography of his work replaces the usual books column. The bibliographer opines that: “Cyril Kornbluth’s short stories may never be completely identified. C. M. KornbluthIn his prolific teens, he was writing under 18 or 19 pseudonyms at once.” Kornbluth’s loss was keenly felt by those at the magazine.

The lead story in the issue is the Odyssean-inspired space adventure “Brother Charlie” by Gordon R. Dickson.

In the intro to “The Reign of Tarquin the Tall” by Kit Reed, the editor notes that it’s a difficult story to classify. He writes that it’s one of those stories in F&SF which “are not, strictly speaking, either fantasy or science fiction, but simply strange stories, commercially unsuited to virtually any other markets.” He adds: “It would be handy to a have a term for such off-beat stories.” Today Reed’s tale would be probably be called slipstream or weird fiction by critics (and it would still have a place in the magazine).

F&SF has a long history of translated stories. This issue includes the first English version of “Gil Braltar” by Jules Verne, trans. by I. O. Evans.

The rest of the issue has the usual variety you expect from F&SF. “The Day of the Green Velvet Cloak” by Mildred Clingerman is a curiosity shop story with a twist of time travel. “The Up-to-Date Sorcerer” by Isaac Asimov is, despite the title, a science fiction story that’s full of Gilbert and Sullivan puns. “The Vandals” by Stephen Barr, and two reprints, “The Eighth Lamp” by Roy Vickers and “The Blue-Eyed Horse” by Michael Fessier, along with a science column by William Morrison, round out the issue.

Interview: William Ledbetter on “In A Wide Sky, Hidden”

William LedbetterTell us a bit about “In A Wide Sky, Hidden.”

In this future, mankind has spread throughout our galactic arm, but the job of exploring and cataloging new star systems has long ago been handed over to machines. Our protagonist grows up wanting to become a famous explorer, but eventually folds under pressure to do something creatively human and let the machines do the “machine work.” But it’s hard to be brilliantly creative after growing up in the shadow of a sister who is famous on hundreds of planets because of her huge, flamboyant artworks. When that sister disappears, leaving only a cryptic note asking their non-explorer sibling to come find her, on a world that will be her artistic “masterpiece,” they have no choice but to start looking. Of course with most life-long journeys of exploration, one seldom finds what one expects.

 

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

Most of my stories don’t really gel into something interesting until I combine two or more “what ifs” and this one was no different. I’ve been a space geek for a very long time and thought I had a good feel for just how big space is, but after I attended the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop in 2014 I gained an entirely new, and to be honest rather depressing, understanding of these vast these distances. For a brief time I even believed we will “never” be able to spread through the galaxy. Then I had an epiphany or sorts. Those distances are only insurmountable on a human scale because we have such short life spans. If we lived forever, or our bodies could be infinitely renewed, then suddenly the time required to cross those spaces didn’t mean as much. When I combined that with the idea of searching for someone who wanted to disappear in the cosmos, then it all came together.

 

Was “In A Wide Sky, Hidden” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Two aspects of this story are rather personal to me. First off, I’ve been an advocate for human space exploration and settlement since I was a kid. I firmly believe that colonizing our solar system and beyond is the single most important thing our civilization can and should do. So knowing the vast majority of the world’s population cares far more about tomorrow’s pro soccer game or last night’s reality show episode leaves me bewildered and frustrated. (Except for the Expanse TV series, that is entirely different.) In this story I show the extrapolation of, and somewhat detrimental effect of, that apathy and boredom with discovering the wonders of the galaxy. The second, somewhat related point, is that I hate all shapes and forms of bullying, but there are forms like peer pressure and public shunning that continue to be socially acceptable. I tend to cheer for people who push back or ignore those bullies, when their behavior is just different and not hurtful to others. Following examples left by their long missing sister, this protagonist eventually comes to realize that following their heart is far more important than trying to become what others want them to be.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for this story?

This story takes place much deeper in the future and isn’t quite the “hard” science fiction that I usually try to write, so oddly enough there wasn’t as much research needed. I did discuss the utility fog or nano-swarm cloud with a couple of nano-tech experts and found that a good amount of thought has been put into the idea and it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. And over many years I’ve also managed a fair bit of immersive research into Kentucky bourbon as well.

 

How does it feel to win a Nebula, and is there anything that you want to say about your work or the field in light of receiving this award?

I have to admit, winning a Nebula is pretty awesome. Since I don’t yet write full time, approval from readers and peers is by far my biggest reward, and in science fiction it’s hard to find better peer recognition than a Nebula Award. Even being nominated was a huge honor, but winning, especially from a field of such excellent novelettes was simply amazing. Being added to that long list of Nebula winners that includes the top names in our field is like a dream come true. And I personally think my winning story is a good indicator that nobody is being pushed out of our genre. There is still plenty of room for everyone, even hard science fiction space stories.

 

What are you working on now?

Mostly longer works. I’m about half finished with a hard science fiction first contact novel tentatively titled “Changing Horses” and will probably soon be editing a previously finished novel called “The Lion Makers.” Of course short fiction is my first true love, so I also have several short stories in the various stages of completion. Hopefully some that will soon come to F&SF!

 

“In A Wide Sky, Hidden” appears in the July/August 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1707.htm

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

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Clicking on Mr. Ledbetter’s photo will take you to his website: williamledbetter.com

Next Page »

Copyright © 2006–2018 The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction • All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Powered by WordPress • Theme based on Whitespace theme by Brian Gardner
If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to sitemaster@fandsf.com.

Designed by Rodger Turner and Hosted by:
SF Site spot art