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F&SF Forum » The Process of Writing

May-Jones 2014 issue

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

  1. Kevin C.
    Member

    The White Curtain was surprisingly touching. Very good.

    Presidential Cryptotrivia was amusing. The last entry got a laugh rather than a chuckle in that it poked fun at a certain modern phenomenon - and I'll leave it at that. The entry for Eisenhower was surprisingly precient, given this summer movie offerings. I wonder how many youngsters know of the incident that inspired Carter's entry.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. JohnWThiel
    Member

    I dug the issue but don't suppose I'll comment on the stories. They were all too wild and far-out for anything to be said about them, is my opinion of the stories in the issue.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. JohnWThiel
    Member

    I might mention that I made "Bartleby the Scavenger" the first of my reading enjoyments.

    The cover, I think, would baffle art appreciators, who might be willing to swear that it was an authentic Hannes Bok.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. Kevin C.
    Member

    The Shadow in the Corner is perhaps the best Lovecraft pastiche I've ever read. Very good.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. JohnWThiel
    Member

    My first reading of that story (Shadow) was a hasty one, and the main thing I noticed was the reiteration that death was coming to everyone, which caused me to pay little attention to other elements the story had. The writing was highly evocative, though this quality was tempered by little attention being paid to literal description; for instance, the unnecessary description of a character in the fifth paragraph doesn't successfully describe a man, but tends to cartoon what a man could look like. I noted also in the paragraph the use of the term "off-putting" which sets the tone for a highly facetious quality the story has. In fact the title parodies a Lovecraft title, diminishing the title concept, which amounts to having a facetious attitude toward madness and death, but the author shows a grasp of the import of Lovecraft's tales and has things of his own to say. However, the concept of people sitting around in a crowd waiting for their eventual death and destruction by madness is funny. The author goes into and out of his respect for the topic. The topic would reassert itself anyway, as it is horrid...beyond endurance, as is doctrinal in discussing a Lovecraft tale.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. Kevin C.
    Member

    The Fisher Queen was well-written, but not to my taste. Might be popular with the women of The View, though. A possible nit-pick: The description of securing mermaids sound similar to using a line to string fish, except it involves running the line through the mouth and out the gill slit. Maybe they string fish differently in Southeast Asia.

    I'm now in the middle of The End of the Silk Road.. So far it's a fair noir story. However, one single premise almost stopped me at the outset, and still doesn't ring true: Interplanetary Atmosphere. The West realized space was a vacuum by the 17th Century. Jules Verne wrote of the vacuum of space in the 19th. The premise of space filled with atmosphere just seems an ill fit even for the era when writers imagined the swamps of Venus and a inhabitable mars.

    A quick edit: More in line with with story would have been aether. Aether jammers plying space in competition with other craft would have been a good fit.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. JohnWThiel
    Member

    A lot of writers have been ignoring the empty space/uninhabited planets finding of the NASA teams. Enter fantasy--perhaps atmosphere accompanies the space pilots.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Pretty draggy life being led in "The Fisher Queen".

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. Ron
    Member

    THE SHADOW IN THE CORNER

    Awesome story! I laughed out loud while reading the first two-thirds of the story, and was disturbed by the last third.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. Kevin C.
    Member

    Despite the background of the protagonist in The End of the Silk Road, he didn't have the cynicism associated with hardboiled detective stories. A softboiled detective, maybe? It's not that the character doesn't work well; it's that the cynical detective is something of a standard in noir fiction.

    It had a good set-up for the everything's-a-bit-sleezy pattern of noir, but never quite reached it. The ending fit the story, but could have also played to the classic noir darkness.

    Some of the elements seem to come out of left field, simply because shorter fiction has less space for set-up. A common problem in SF & Fantasy mysteries, even good ones like this story. I can easily imagine this as a full-length novel, with key information introduced early on, as in the flight to Venus, then slower development as the reader follows along and tries to solve the mystery.

    All-in-all, a fair effort at noir; a better effort when considered a mystery set in an alternate universe and not as a noir story.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. rowsdower
    Member

    Rooksnight was the best story of the issue for me. Containment Zone was good too. The rest, not so much. Bartleby the Scavenger was just pointless. Shame it was the longest story of the issue. I was reading and reading and reading and after awhile, saw no real point to continue.
    The Buckram wasn't really a story, just riffs on Presidents, some amusing, most not.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. Kevin C.
    Member

    Rooksnight was entertaining. Parts seemed inspired by the original Quake (first episode still available as shareware and more tense for its lack of soundtrack). The key word here is inspired. It's not a Quake derivative by any means.

    A description of the clouds in the night scene in camp made me a bit sad. I don't think they were supposed to be noctilucent clouds, which can appear at twilight, but based on modern observation of clouds at night. In our modern world, clouds at night reflect the lights beneath them. The effect is especially dazzling in a snow covered town with an overcast sky. But in the days before street lights, clouds were dark. On partly cloudy moonless nights, clouds appeared as dark patches against the stars. Such is our times that we have come to regard glowing clouds as the norm, and for most industrialized countries they are.

    We have forgotten what night without light pollution is like, because unless we visit a remote location, we have never experienced one. Very sad, indeed.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. Toast
    Member

    Loved the Laidlaw story. Missed the one a few issues ago until Marc tweeted me about it. Found a few earlier stories online. Just ordered three back issues from F&S. Wished all your back issues were digital.

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

    T. D. Hutch posted a short review of this issue on EERIE WORLDS:

    http://eerieworlds.com/2014/07/29/review-fsf-mayjune-2014/

    Posted 3 years ago #

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