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July-August 2018 issue

(19 posts)
  • Started 2 years ago by Gordon Van Gelder
  • Latest reply from C.C. Finlay

  1. Gordon Van Gelder

    July/August • 69th Year of Publication

    Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling -75- L. X. Beckett

    Visible Cities -164- Rachel Pollack
    Broken Wings -233- William Ledbetter

    The Phobos Experience -6- Mary Robinette Kowal
    The Prevaricator -26- Matthew Hughes
    The Queen of the Peri Takes Her Time -43- Corey Flintoff
    The Adjunct -152- Cassandra Rose Clarke
    Bedtime Story -188- James Sallis
    Morbier -204- R. S. Benedict
    Hainted -218- Ashley Blooms

    Books to Look For -57- Charles de Lint
    Musing on Books -66- Michelle West
    Science: Why Do Kites Fly? -193- Jerry Oltion
    Films: In the Queue -199- David J. Skal
    Coming Attractions -256-
    Curiosities -258- Paul Di Filippo

    Cartoons: Nick Downes (25), Bill Long (65), Danny Shanahan(151), .


    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. Dr. Caligari

    Good to see Rachel Pollack back. And Matt Hughes is always a treat.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. MattHughes

    Thanks, Doc. It's not a Baldemar story, though it's in the same universe.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. Gordon Van Gelder

  5. Gordon Van Gelder

    Sam Tomaino's review is up at SF REVU:

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. Dr. Caligari

    Some excellent stories in this issue, some I didn't love.

    "Freezing Rain..." started as one of those cutesy 'if this goes on' social-satire stories, this time about social media, but gets darker and deeper as it goes along. A very good read.

    Rachel Pollack's "Visible Cities" is a spin-off from her Jack Shade series of stories, but is very different in style and tone from those, and all the better for that.

    "The Prevaricator" is a Matthew Hughes story, so what is there to say but that it is yet another clever, fun read?

    On the less positive side, I loved the cover, but neither of the two stories picked to match it worked very well for me. "The Phobos Experience" is set in an alternate history where we explored Mars in the 1970s, but doesn't plausibly explain how the space program became so advanced so early, and the 1970s angle adds nothing to the story. The story itself turns out to be about space pirates, a plot device that was already old and tired when Planet Stories published space pirate stories in the 1940s. And "Broken Wings" has a brief moment of interest with the alien artifact, but then becomes a story pirates. Again.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Jacob Olson at Reviews and Robots provided in-depth reviews on the stories in the July/August issue. Some of the reviews contain spoilers:

    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. digdug

    Just finished reading this issue.

    Well! I really liked 'The Long Fall Up'. William Ledbetter has gone and done it. I liked 'Broken Wings' even more. Both Marcie and Bernard are very likable characters. Hope we get to see more of them.

    Most of the other stories were good to very good. I especially liked the ones from old friends Hughes and Pollack.

    Overall a very good issue.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. digdug

    @Dr. Cal

    "space pirates, a plot device that was already old and tired when Planet Stories published space pirate stories in the 1940s."

    The thing is you can say this about almost any plot device.
    - Ghosts
    - Time travel
    - etc.

    It's all about how the author makes the tired plot device
    fresh again.

    I usually don't like ghost stories.... but I think that's more a my overall preference for SF as opposed to horror.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. Mark Pontin

    Doc Caligari wrote: 'The Phobos Experience" is set in an alternate history where we explored Mars in the 1970s, but doesn't plausibly explain how the space program became so advanced so early'

    The notion is more plausible than you might think, because in fact NASA had the essential technology to do it then. (However I haven't read the story in question because my F&SF subscription is apparently being delivered to my old Kindle, which has gone missing, and I've yet to hassle with getting F&SF on my new Kindle.)

    Basically, NASA had the nuclear drive for a Mars mission developed, tested and certified for that purpose by the start of the 1970s. This was the NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) drive. NERVA was _not_ a Dyson-Thomas Orion-type nuclear drive, thank god, but a nuclear thermal rocket.

    Here's the wiki --

    'The Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) was a U.S. nuclear thermal rocket engine development program that ran for roughly two decades. NERVA was a joint effort of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and NASA, managed by the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO) until both the program and the office ended at the end of 1972.

    'NERVA demonstrated that nuclear thermal rocket engines were a feasible and reliable tool for space exploration, and at the end of 1968 SNPO certified that the latest NERVA engine, the NRX/XE, met the requirements for a human mission to Mars. Although NERVA engines were built and tested as much as possible with flight-certified components and the engine was deemed ready for integration into a spacecraft, much of the U.S. space program was cancelled by Congress before a manned mission to Mars could take place.

    'NERVA was considered by the AEC, SNPO and NASA to be a highly successful program; it met or exceeded its program goals. Its principal objective was to "establish a technology base for nuclear rocket engine systems to be utilized in the design and development of propulsion systems for space mission application".[1] Virtually all space mission plans that use nuclear thermal rockets use derivative designs from the NERVA NRX or Pewee ...'

    More here --

    Basically, chemical rockets are a self-defeating proposition if you're going anywhere further than the Moon. You need some kind of nuclear or, possibly, electric drive.

    Honestly, in terms of going to Mars,therefore, NERVA back in the 1970s was a far more realistic proposition than Elon Musk's BFR (or whatever he's calling it currently) is in 2018.

    It isn't clear how NASA's astronauts flying a NERVA-driven rocket would have survived the cosmic ray exposure beyond the Earth's magnetosphere (which includes the Moon and protected the Apollo astronauts). But, firstly, a nuclear drive would allow a faster transit to and from Mars than would a chemical rocket, and thus less radiation exposure; and, secondly, Musk has no answers on that front, either.

    Nixon and Congress shutting down the Apollo program and funding for a Mars mission in 1972 was the jonbar point. It's possible to imagine an alternate history where NASA got to Mars in the 1970s, though all its astronauts got cancer from radiation exposure.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. CWJ

    You've kind of summarized Steve Baxter's novel "Voyage."

    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. Mark Pontin

    @CWJ -

    Huh. Thanks. I should read 'Voyage' some time.

    Ideas-wise, I admire some of Baxter's stuff immensely. On the other hand, I don't read all of it because I find its actual literary surfaces and characterizations tough going -- a somewhat rudimentary aesthetic experience, I guess.

    Except there are times when Baxter uses 1st person narration and, funnily enough, he defaults into educated English person style very plausibly. Those Baxter works I find more satisfying to read.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. CWJ

    Although it's third person, I thought it had some of his most poignant and moving scenes. I won't spoil them for you.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. JohnWThiel

    I quit using this Forum a few years back, but now I'm wondering if I should return to it occasionally. Re-subscribing to F&SF put me in mind of seeing what's happening here now. Haven't got the first issue of my new sub yet, though. I suppose that might be the next issue from this.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. oblomov

    Hey John, I just arrived back here a week ago with the same thought! Cosmic. Or maybe it's something they're putting in the water ...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    A video review by Thomas Wagner of three stories by William Ledbetter, Mary Robinette Kowal, and L.X. Beckett from the July/August issue, along with some stories from Asimov's and more:

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Patrick Mahon reviews the issue for SFcrowsnest:

    He loved the Kowal and Clarke stories, and had good things to say about the Ledbetter, Hughes, Flintoff, Pollack, and Beckett stories.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Adrian Simmons reviews the July/August issue for Black Gate:

    He seems to have most liked the stories by Hughes, Flintoff, Benedict, and Ledbetter, along with Mary Soon Lee's poem.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Rich Horton reviews the issue for Locus Magazine:

    He calls "Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling" by L.X. Beckett an "impressive novella" and makes it one of his recommended stories for the month. He also likes the Mars stories by Mary Robinette Kowal and William Ledbetter.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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