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May-Jones 2014 issue

(44 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by Gordon Van Gelder
  • Latest reply from Gordon Van Gelder

  1. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    THE MAGAZINE OF
    FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
    May/June • 65th Year of Publication

    NOVELLAS

    BARTLEBY THE SCAVENGER -82- Katie Boyer

    NOVELETS

    THE END OF THE SILK ROAD -5- David D. Levine
    ROOKSNIGHT -141- Marc Laidlaw
    CONTAINMENT ZONE: A SEASTEAD STORY -216- Naomi Kritzer

    SHORT STORIES

    THE FISHER QUEEN -51 Alyssa Wong
    WHITE CURTAIN -65- Pavel Amnuel
    PRESIDENTIAL CRYPTOTRIVIA -75- Oliver Buckram
    THE MEMORY CAGE -174- Tim Sullivan
    THE SHADOW IN THE CORNER -200- Jonathan Andrew Sheen

    DEPARTMENTS

    BOOKS TO LOOK FOR -35- Charles de Lint
    BOOKS -44- James Sallis
    PLUMAGE FROM PEGASUS: NUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE NUDGED -137- Paul Di Filippo
    FILMS: IMITATIONS OF LIFE -195- David J. Skal
    COMING ATTRACTIONS -215-
    COMPETITION #87: FAN MAIL -255-
    CURIOSITIES -258- Bud Webster

    Cartoons: Arthur Masear (43), Mark Heath (74).
    COVER BY CORY AND CATSKA ENCH FOR “ROOKSNIGHT”

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. Chris DeVito
    Member

    I'm "jone"sin' for this one . . .

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. rowsdower
    Member

    No Cowdrey! YEEEE HAAAAAW!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

  5. Chris DeVito
    Member

    Hey Gordon or Webmaster! Not for nothin' and all that, and I know everyone hates an anorak, but can't you fix the typo in the subject line? That "Jone" is really bugging me. Apologies etc. for the interruption, you may all now resume your usual activities . . .

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Oh, I didn't even notice it. I've gone and changed it.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. SHamm
    Member

    May Jones's work is groundbreaking and vastly underappreciated. It's about time she was honored with a special issue of F&SF!

    Any chance of a special Julie August issue in the near future?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. Chris DeVito
    Member

    OK, I give up. The May-Jones issue it is! I'll drown my inner proofreader with booze and regret.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. oblomov
    Member

    Glad to see we're finally addressing the Brian Jones issue. It had to be murder.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Issue reviewed by Lois Tilton for LOCUS ONLINE: http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/04/lois-tilton-reviews-short-fiction-mid-april-4/

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. eholst
    Member

    Gorlen, Beck, and a slew of presidential cryptotrivia just arrived at my doorstep in Eugene, OR. An intimidating assemblage, but I think I'll let them in. It's only proper, considering how early they showed up.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. Rebecca French
    Member

    A subscriber in Los Angeles, CA reported receiving their May/June 2014 issue on 4/17.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. GusG
    Member

    Arrived Saturday and finished later tonight (sorry about the verb tense writer nerds). I loved all of the stories and especially the return of Beck, who is like Nancy Drew for people who have been reading for more than two months. Keep them coming, Ms. Kritzer.

    REALLY disappointing review of Her. Spike Jonze's brilliant film deserved much more than a passing mention after a lengthy review of an apparently mediocre Frankenstein remake.

    Mr. Finlay, I am looking forward to your issue next month. GVG has agreed to let me edit an issue also, so everyone can look forward to some Glen Cook reprints and lots of retro video game reviews. Thanks, Gordon!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. A few words about Marc Laidlaw's novelette (and cover story) "Rooksnight." With each of these stories of Gorlen and Spar (I think this is the fourth?) Laidlaw improves mightily, and with this one has mastered the elements of this sort of story. Each story has gotten progressively better in some aspect or other, but I think this one has it all.

    Some might dismiss this sort of fantasy, very much within the bounds of the sword & sorcery sub-genre, as just another adventure story, while searching in their reading for something more Important or Relevant, telling themselves that they've read this mere Entertainment many times before--have been there and done that.

    However. This is precisely the kind of sword & sorcery story that made its historical antecedents iconic and world famous: the Conan the Barbarian tales of Robert E. Howard; the much beloved s&s stories of C. L. Moore (I'm thinking here of "Black God's Kiss," Black God's Shadow," "Jirel Meets Magic," "The Dark Land," "Quest of the Starstone," and "Hellsgarde," all published from 1934-39 in Weird Tales, several of which appeared during the period REH saw published 17 Conan stories between 1933 and his suicide in 1936.); and of course Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories that would arrive a little later in the 1940s {though the very first, "Two Sought Adventure" would see print in August of 1939}.

    My point being that people were attracted to these tales for a variety of reasons and each of the above authors put their individual stamp on them: a bit more color, ribald banter and wit, a sexy female protagonist--all thrust into dire adventures featuring dark gods or Evil, ancient sorceries, primal settings and customs--the list goes on.

    And the language! The archaic phraseology/turns of phrase, olden words themselves, methods of description of places, people, strange happenings, leaving to the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks or to picture in horrific detail what was happening. It's not that easy to do, especially these days when so many wannabe Howard's try and fail with clumsy or forced cliche language; it's easy to spot.

    Yes, there are a fair number of consummate professional who can, and are doing it today, mostly in novel format. But relative to the number of those who are trying and failing, or who do it poorly, those who have succeeded are a distinct minority.

    Which is why I enjoy it so much when someone like Marc Laidlaw comes along and does it right. Building from the masters (Howard, Moore, Leiber, etc.) he takes the very best from them, adds his own unique stamp and shows he has the chops to still excite through his prose. It's a cliche I know, but real pros make the difficult look easy, and I think "Rooksnight" is one of those stories, where on the surface it reads like a darkly fun adventure s&s tale, but it just ain't that easy to pull off.

    Because this audience has a lot of F&SF readers, I'd like to mention one other of the F&SF stable who also does this sort of story, who makes it look easy, and is a master at it: Fred Chappell, who writes all too infrequently these days.

    So I give major kudos to Marc Laidlaw for mastering the s&s tale in the tradition of those mentioned above, and which "Rooksnight" is a marvelous example. Good, fun, dark and dangerous stuff and I love it.

    One last observation. After finishing this story a little while ago I sat on the porch with a cup of coffee organizing my thoughts about it. I don't know how or why, but one thought hit me with no warning. Where Laidlaw's s&s is strikingly _dissimilar_ to that of Howard, Moore, and Leiber, is the lack of romance/sex/sexuality and or female presence (that I can recall right now). And I wondered why. This is obviously a conscious choice. Maybe he just didn't want to mess with this aspect due to political correctness these days, and didn't want to hassle with casting any female (for any legitimate s&s reason) as a subordinate; or the opposite, perhaps a dominant strong warrior type; or even just a passing love interest for Gorlen. Rather than muck around with any female character in whatever role he decided to keep a hard focus on Gorlen and Spar. So he chose not to have any females at all (or of any passing interest), and thus duck any current gender issues he might otherwise encounter.

    For those who have read the previous 3 or 4 tales, is my recollection accurate about the no female aspect to the stories (companion, lover, romantic interest, warrior woman, witch, etc., etc.)? If so, why do you think Laidlaw chose to go this route? It doesn't bother me much either way, but I think it would kinda spice up a future story or two to drop in (at least for any single adventure) a female of whatever stripe now and again. Howard, Moore, and Leiber did it, each in their own fashion and consistent with the kind of story they were writing, and the fans loved it.

    I'd really be interested to hear what others think about "Rooksnight" and (again if my memory hasn't failed me on the previous stories) why there seems to be no female character(s) of note in any of the stories.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. To see if my recollections of Marc Laidlaw’s Gorlen and Spar stories were faithful or had betrayed me when it came to the inclusion of females in these stories, I have spent the entire day reading, or rereading all 7 of them. In short, in the most strict and technical interpretation of what I remembered I was in error. Given a little leeway in my assertions I was a little more correct.

    Here’s a brief breakdown of each story where female characters are concerned. For those new to this series of tales and to perhaps get a better understanding of the current story, the general arc, or storyline, is that Gorlen is a traveling bard. A cult of priests needs a virgin for their rites. Unaware of this, Gorlen has “deflowered” the young maiden the priests were going to sacrifice, making her unusable. One of the priests, described in various terms, “vagabond’ being but one, has placed a curse on Gorlen, trading his flesh and blood right hand with that of a stone gargoyle—said gargoyle being named Spar. Gorlen’s adventures describe his hunt for the dastardly priest in order to reverse the curse. Some of the stories (the first 3) feature only Gorlen; one has only Spar, and the remaining 3 tales feature them both.

    1. “Dankden” appeared as a novella in the October/November 1995 F&SF. Kris Rusch was then editor. There are four major players: Gorlen, and a family consisting of a father, his older daughter, and young son. The older daughter and Gorlen show affection for one another but nothing develops as the story itself takes center stage, there’s not even so much as a kiss. They part ways at story’s end. The romantic angle is a minor part of the story, more in the line of an expected love interest tossed in. Spar does not appear.

    2. “Catamount” appeared as a short story in the September 1996 F&SF. Kris Rusch was still editor. Story features Gorlen only. No females. No Spar.

    3. “Childrun” appeared as a novelette in the August 2008 F&SF. GVG is now editor from here on out. Gorlen has a romantic interlude with Ansylla, the village school marm. No Spar.

    4. “Quickstone” appeared as a novelette in the March 2009 F&SF. The backstory of the maiden Gorlen deflowered (Plenth is her name) is told, which angered the priest of Nardath to curse both he and Spar. Plenth has not been mentioned in previous stories until now, and only now as a story within this current story. Otherwise, there are no females here. First appearance of Spar, the gargoyle who was cursed to trade his stone hand for Gorlen’s flesh and blood hand.

    5. “Songwood” appeared as a short story in the January/February 2010 F&SF. This story is Spar’s only. He meets Sprit aboard a ship, Sprit being the carven figurehead of the ship, she being carved from the title’s rare Songwood. She is animate. Spar is hewn from stone and Sprit from wood, thus they have much in common in their dealings with humans. They fall in love but tragedy overtakes Sprit. With Spar’s aid Sprit now lives by the ocean, planting her roots and living to seed a new Songwood forest. Spar, being mobile, cannot stay, promising to visit her when he can. At the end we realize Spar has been telling his tale to Gorlen, though he makes no appearance. Though there are no human females in this story, there is indeed a romantic interest.

    6. “Bemused” appeared as a novelette in the September/October 2013 F&SF. Story begins with Gorlen musing over the night of debauchery he has spent with one Mistress Funch, definitely a female of romantic interest. Also, later on, as Gorlen and Spar travel to Wollox Manor where they learn of a huge library they may consult that may lead them to the evil priest of Nardath who has ensorcelled them, they encounter one Gloxynne Wollox, the real power behind the manor, not her brother. Gloxy controls the mines, and all of the business with an iron hand, and also is curator of everything in the library save for her irresponsible brother’s addiction to all things musical (and very weird). She is given to us as a conniving, evil-driven woman who is responsible for Spar losing his wings. So, an alluded to romantic interest at the outset and a domineering, evil female at the end.

    Which brings us to the 7th Gorlen and Spar tale, “Rooksnight,” the novelette in the current May/June 2014 F&SF, which has no females. I’d say that, for all intents and purposes, my memory was faulty. Of the 7 stories, 5 have some sort of female romantic interest, though one deals with the love interest between creatures of stone and wood (i.e. not human), and in another only a mention of what got Gorlen and Spar cursed in the first place is told as backstory (“Quickstone”). Of the remaining 3, two definitely have romantic love—or sex—mentioned explicitly (“Childrun” and “Bemused”), while in the 3rd (“Dankden”) the romantic interest is very thin and almost throwaway.

    In the remaining two tales, “Catamounts” and "Rooksnight” there are no females, so no romantic interest. So it depends on how you want to break it all down, I suppose. For some reason I just don’t think of these stories—or rather, recall any colorful scenes—involving sex or sexy women, like I do when I think of the primal lust and beautiful half-clad princesses or wenches traipsing through crumbling and dangerous palaces with Conan dragging them, from Robert E. Howard, or some of the very suggestive scenes from Catherine Moore’s s&s forays (“The Black God’s Kiss” is a whopper of visual, sexual innuendo), or even Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser joking offhandedly now and again about their gambling and wenching. Maybe that’s a good thing, a plus for Laidlaw’s tales; I have no idea. This is just a difference that struck me while pondering his stories, which I find get better each time out.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. SHamm
    Member

    There is another Gorlen & Spar story, "Bellweather," which that lowlife hooer Laidlaw sold to LIGHTSPEED (Aug.2013) when he was hooerin' around behind his loyal F&SF readers' backs.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. "Bellweather" appeared in Lightspeed #40, September 2013. Laidlaw was also interviewed in one of the magazine's Author Spotlight features. Interestingly enough (and I wasn't aware of this before my posts), he was asked about the female characters in his stories. Here is the question and answer:

    "Lightsepeed: Do any of the Gorlen stories feature a main character that is female?

    "Laidlaw: As Gorlen wandered from place to place, he has encountered female characters who are well established in their environment—and usually this has been in the form of a dalliance. The strongest female in the series is Spar’s love interest, the carved songwood masthead called Sprit. She’s as much a main character as Spar in that story, which he narrates. But it’s an interesting question, because it has crossed my mind: I’ve done the lonely bard thing, and now I’m doing the buddy thing, and it has occurred to me that there could be a great dynamic with a third member who would almost certainly be female. If I were to write a Gorlen novel, it would almost certainly need a third character to keep things interesting. Maybe a character like Isabel, played by Natalie Portman, in Your Highness."

    I look forward to more Gorlen and Spar stories, needless to say.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. Dr. Caligari
    Member

    The issue appeared on my Kindle today (earlier than expected-- previous months' issues arrived promptly at midnight, Eastern time, on the first day of the cover month).

    Thanks, Gordon!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. Chris DeVito
    Member

    My Kindle copy also arrived "early."

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. Kevin C.
    Member

    Same here. Turned it on just to sync, then lo and behold, what should I see but the current issus of F&SF in download.

    Of course, I immediately turned to the "educational section." Masear got a chuckle - and wonder if that could explain a certain legendary event.

    Heath was a near miss. Yes, I get the joke. The cartoon was also the most New Yorker-like I've seen in F&SF. I wish I could put my finger on why it's a near miss. It's that close. It also dovetails very well with a certain story in this issue.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. Chris DeVito
    Member

    Humor being subjective and all that, it's not surprising I had exactly the opposite reaction -- the gargoyle boozer made me laugh out loud, the other was just -- oh yeah, clever.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. Kevin C.
    Member

    Finally realized why it was a near miss. The gag wasn't quite literal enough.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. at78rpm
    Member

    This issue has the strongest beginning of any issue in the past year. Okay, half year. Okay, since the last issue. Really, I so enjoyed reading The End of the Silk Road so much, I immediately searched for more stories like it. That's how I know a story has affected me long-term. The next two, The Fisher Queen and The White Curtain, are astonishingly complete short stories. By complete, I mean intellectually fulfilling while being entertaining stories.

    Just as James Blaylock emerged as a master of Steam Punk, I wouldn't be surprised to see David Levine develop quite a reputation as a Raymond Chandler of Science Fiction.

    I had to come and write my thoughts after reading just three stories: that's how enthusiastic I am about them. Great issue, Gordon.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Thanks, at78rpm. Indeed, thanks to everyone who has offered feedback about this issue.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. I think it is we, the readers, who should be thanking you, Gordon. It would appear you've managed to put together a slightly more interesting batch of d/r/e/c/k stories this time around. Keep up the better-than-okay work, and let's hope this issue wasn't a fluke. ;-)

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Obviously, we're in a feedback loop---the feedback I get here on this board helps me put out issues that you folks like better.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

  28. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Sam Tomaino reviews the issue for SFREVU:

    http://www.sfrevu.com/php/Review-id.php?id=15412

    Posted 4 years ago #
  29. cinday
    Member

    Great news! My May/June issue arrived on May 1 in Minneapolis, MN. I hope this is starting a trend for USPS delivering it on time in the future instead of never.... Thank you!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. Dr. Caligari
    Member

    An excellent issue. Kudos to Gordon for this one!
    I was especially moved by "The Fisher Queen" and "White Curtain," but there really wasn't a single dud this time.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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