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Another story ID

(20 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by Gordon Van Gelder
  • Latest reply from Gordon Van Gelder

  1. Gordon Van Gelder

    A longtime subscriber is trying to identify this story:

    it's an alternative time-line WWII story. An American submarine in the Indian Ocean picks up a survivor who says he was on a Nazi ocean liner that was supposedly taking thousands of Jews to a new home in Madagascar(?) but instead, the upper bulkheads of the ship opened up and the passengers were mechanically all swept overboard into shark-infested waters.

    Does anyone here recognize it? The subscriber says it may have run 8-12 years ago. Maybe something by Albert Cowdrey?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  2. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Isn't that "Jew if by Sea" by Richard Mueller from the May 2004 issue?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  3. schatzfam

    Kudos to all. I just pulled the issue from my bookcase and skimmed the story. The subscriber does a good job with the details (right down to Madagascar as the destination) and Charles nails the story and issue.

    The issue also featured an editorial from Gordon urging for an Isaac Asimov US postal stamp. This has still not happened, although I believe it was announced at one point.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  4. Gordon Van Gelder

    Yes, that's surely the one. Thanks. (The subscriber looking for the story also says thanks.)

    It's funny---Mueller was my second thought after Cowdrey, but this particular story didn't come to mind. Maybe because it ran more than 12 years ago.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  5. Gordon Van Gelder

    Schatzfam, as it happens, I was just discussing writers on US postage stamps and recalling the campaign to get Asimov a stamp. (Dr. Asimov would have turned 100 a few months ago.) There was an announcement of a series of stamps for science fiction writers and I think Asimov was to be included, but the project was shelved in 2013:

    From what I've observed, in recent years the USPS has gotten away from honoring individuals on stamps. They're only honoring six individuals this year and last year it was five. By contrast, they honored seventeen in 2011.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  6. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    That may be my favorite Mueller story. One reason I remember it is the title always seemed tonally dissonant with the story to me, since it's not really a punny story. (Also it makes me think it should be the sequel to "Hun if by Land" but Mueller never wrote that story.)

    Posted 3 months ago #
  7. Gordon Van Gelder

    The story was retitled when Ellen Datlow reprinted it in a Year's Best anthology.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  8. Gordon Van Gelder

    Another reader asks:

    I recall reading a short story in your magazine in the '80s or
    early '90s about a time when baseball games were played
    in empty parks and only broadcast, hadn't had live
    attendance in generations. One fan wanted to see a game
    in person, and the story was about this quest.

    Can anyone here help?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  9. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    At first I thought of "On Account of Darkness" by Barry Malzberg and Bill Pronzini (F&SF, Nov 1977), just because I had a vague memory of it as being a story about the future where no one appreciated baseball any more, but I pulled it off the shelf and that clearly isn't it, so I don't have a clue.

    BUT there's a bibliography of speculative baseball stories kept by Steven Silver here -- maybe if they look over the list, the story will jump out at them.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  10. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    You know what, I just went and asked Steven. We'll see if he recognizes it.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  11. SHamm

    According to the ISFDB, Richard Mueller turns 100 this year.

    His most recent story is "But Wait! There's More!" from F&SF, August 2008, when he would have been 87 or 88.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. Gordon Van Gelder

    I'm pretty sure ISFDB has our Rich Mueller confused with another one.

    I think our contributor was born in 1945.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  13. Marian

    I think there are at least two authors named Richard Mueller. I googled and ended up confused. I suggest someone who knows the titles of his novels google and see which one he is.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  14. Gordon Van Gelder

    Our contributor is the author of these books:

    JERNIGAN'S EGG (Bluejay Books)
    DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE, FALLING TO IOWA, and DARK OF WINTER (Books I-III of the Glen Gleason mysteries) (Amazon Kindle/Nook)
    novelization of the movie GHOSTBUSTERS (Tor)

    Posted 3 months ago #
  15. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    A longtime reader is trying to identify this story:

    "The story I'm looking for was about a murder mystery in the future. In this story people could become gestalts with one another, at the price of erasing their old individuality and part of their idtentity. The main character was deciding whether or not a murder had killed his victim before or after joining a gestalt. The story was apparently part of a series. It was about a female protagonist who had a traumatic childhood. According to the text of the story she had committed war crimes as a kid."

    The first thing I thought of was Cowdrey's "Murder in the Flying Vatican" but I pulled it off the shelf and skimmed it and I don't think that's right. Still, this sounds very familiar to me and it's making me crazy that I can't identify it. Can anyone help?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  16. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    A long-time reader asks: "Do you recall a story published in F&SF that was about a man who travels to the 1980s via a website or maybe it was an app? I would like to re-read it and can't seem to recall what it was called or when it was published. Does this sound familiar? It could have been several years ago."

    The story doesn't strike a bell for me which means I've forgotten or maybe it was published elsewhere. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  17. Gordon Van Gelder

    Another query from a longtime subscriber:

    From 1965-1992 I remember a story.

    It was a historian in the distant future

    "debunking"  the story of WW2 as symbolic with

    England represented by the church on the hill,

    America by the field of roses and Germany by

    Adolph the wolf.

    Does anyone here recognize the story? Maybe something by Avram Davidson or one of Fritz Leiber's changewind stories?

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  18. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    Harry Turtledove recognized it when we posted the question over on Twitter. He writes: 'That's Stewart Robb, "Letter from a Higher Critic." It's not an @fandsf story. It's from the November 1966 @Analog_SF.'

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  19. Ron

    <A long-time reader asks: "Do you recall a story published in F&SF that was about a man who travels to the 1980s via a website or maybe it was an app? I would like to re-read it and can't seem to recall what it was called or when it was published. Does this sound familiar? It could have been several years ago."

    The story doesn't strike a bell for me which means I've forgotten or maybe it was published elsewhere. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.>

    Ron says: That sounds like a story I read, not in F&SF, but in Asimov's: "Living in the Eighties” by David Ira Cleary.

    This is from the Tangent Online review of the story:

    "Since time travel is one of my favorite subgenres of SF, I launched into “Living in the Eighties” by David Ira Cleary in a frame of excited anticipation; not just a time-travel story, but a time travel novella! This was going to be fun. Unfortunately, the story didn’t—for me—live up to its promise.

    The setup is good, with all the elements in place for a cracking story: Bob, our depressed protagonist, has never gotten over the death of his girlfriend Gretchen, after an argument led to her vehicular suicide in 1991; Clayton, his rock musician buddy, wants a cure from the diabetes that’s slowly killing him. So when Clayton stumbles across a website,, whose software makes time-travel accessible via browser, our protagonists are hot to go, one into the past, the other to the future. And Cleary spices up the tune further with fun riffs like:

    ‘The site was called It was text-heavy, academic-looking, with no graphics at all.’ … ‘Its claim was that the flicker of its screen when synchronized with special music would disrupt the “forty-hertz cycle binding the thalamus to the spatial-temporal structures in the parietal and occipital lobes.” Then once disrupted, the screen would flicker and music would play at a frequency “to impose an organization of the temporal submodules coincident with the date that the subject chooses.’

    Although Mr. Cleary offers some mildly interesting speculation on our possible near-term future as society finally comes to grips with climate change, I found little meat and a good deal of fat and gristle to this piece.

    First, the story is so loaded down with period detail and description as to weary anyone not interested in reliving the eighties. Even allowing for the need to solidly ground the reader and keep them aboard, the detail and descriptive matter—especially with regard to the music scene—seems at times to border on the obsessive, and doesn’t let up even toward the end, when you’d expect, maybe even pray for, a quickening of the action.

    Second, the story suffers from some clumsiness, such as when Clayton goes to 2050 to bring back the formula for a diabetes cure armed with a flash drive from 2012, and succeeds (“I got the diabetes cure data on the USB drive”). Really? They’re still using USB drives in 2050, not to mention a compatible OS?

    Also aggravating was the constant harping on about depression and antidepressants, because talking about depressed characters and suicides and toes lost to diabetes is no substitute for making one care about the same characters—and I didn’t. If some of the effort put into getting the period detail right had been devoted to creating sympathetic characters, this piece would have been far stronger. And beyond the premise of time travel via internet browser, which alone is not enough to carry a 50-page novella, I didn’t find much fresh thinking about time travel here. The takeaway line of the story, repeated by the trickster character at the end, is, “What is memory? What is dream?”

    These faults wouldn’t be so egregious to me if this were a much shorter story, or in another venue; but given how very few slots are open for novellas in the top print magazines, the bar has traditionally been—and should remain—a high one."

    Posted 2 weeks ago #
  20. Gordon Van Gelder

    That reader sends thanks to Harry Turtledove for ID'ing "Letter from a Higher Critic."

    Posted 1 week ago #

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