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May-June 2010 issue -- contents

(85 posts)
  • Started 9 years ago by Gordon Van Gelder
  • Latest reply from Gordon Van Gelder

  1. Gordon Van Gelder

    May/June • 61st Year of Publication

    Why That Crazy Old Lady Goes Up the Mountain -5- Michael Libling
    Thief of Shadows -50- Fred Chappell
    Dr. Death vs. the Vampire -92- Aaron Schutz
    The Crocodiles -230- Steven Popkes

    A History of Cadmium -76- Elizabeth Bourne
    The Real Martian Chronicles -86- John Sladek
    Remotest Mansions of the Blood -129- Alex Irvine
    Seven Sins for Seven Dwarves -145- Hilary Goldstein
    Silence -165- Dale Bailey
    Forever -183- Rachel Pollack
    The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe -197- Robert Onopa
    The Gypsy’s Boy -219- Lokiko Hall

    Books to Look For -34- Charles de Lint
    Musing on Books -43- Michelle West
    Coming Attractions -164-
    Films: Blockbuster as Religious Experience -213- Kathi Maio
    Competition #79 -255-
    Curiosities - 258- Bud Webster

    Cartoons: Arthur Masear (75, 128).


    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. Gordon Van Gelder

    I've sent out the advance copies and I've got a bunch left over---somewhere around twenty or thirty.

    So I'm going to give them away to anyone in North America who agrees to blog about the issue.

    If you want one, go to the F&SF Contact us page:

    2) Fill in your name and address and send a message indicating that you will blog about the issue. (A link to your blog is a good idea.)

    3) After your issue arrives, comment about the issue on your blog and send us a link to your comments, or post a link here.

    That’s it.

    If you've participated in one of these bloggers’ promotions before, please give someone else the chance to try F&SF for free.


    —Gordon V. G .

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. JohnWThiel

    It sounds like it will be a good issue.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. Gordon Van Gelder

    Here are the first blogger's comments on this issue:

    Posted 9 years ago #
  5. GusG

    Mine enveloped copy arrived Saturday, 4/17 to a VERY excited household.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  6. Gordon Van Gelder

  7. Gordon Van Gelder

  8. JohnWThiel

    Just got the issue today and I've been noting that more and more the magazine is becoming a pleasure to receive. The Dell mags look like they'll be a lot of work, but F&SF had a greater feeling of entertainment to it.

    I wonder if Elizabeth Bourne is any relation to the fanzine editor Larry Bourne, who has always been a great promoter of science fiction. It isn't her original name, I see, but marriage establishes a relationship if her husband is related to Larry.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  9. JohnWThiel

    I've seen a lot of stories of an artistic nature or with an artistic background or influence in looking over files of F&SF over the years. "A History of Cadmium" sort of epitomizes this element in the fiction. Where did her characters live most of the time, Bleeker Street? There's the standard village complaint about brownstone buildings. Anyway, it explains much about the culture, but I fail to see any fantasy elements in the story, unless mundanity and normalcy is seen as its own form of fantasy.

    "The Real Martian Chronicles" was pretty good parody, echoing Bradbury pretty well---"Like upended baboons' arses" is a good parodic substitute for a Bradbury similitude. I liked one sentence in the story particularly: "It's a mystery to me what all these mosquitoes lived on before people came here." One of thos anomalies of nature one encounters, framed in a context of science fiction and exemplified upon Mars.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  10. Anonymous

    "A History of Cadmium" is a lovely, understated story, I think. Caddy's relationships with the woman she thinks of as her mother, and with that woman's friend, and with her husband, and with her art, are to me at the heart of it. The fantasy element, John, is the painting with which Caddy shares her name, and with which she has a conflicted relationship. The painting is constantly changing, but this seems to be--to Caddy and to Julia--accepted as natural, normal, inevitable. Where is the yellow boat going? What is in the dark woods?


    Posted 9 years ago #
  11. rowsdower

    Received my copy today (Apr 28) in pristinecondition. Woo hoo!
    I will read it right after I finish the Spring 1950 F&SF, which was the 2nd issue. I've started reading the 40 year collection of F&SF mags that I bought last year.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  12. Gordon Van Gelder

  13. JohnWThiel

    Your lead story is difficult to comment on, as it seems to have made the computer network touchy. That's the God is dead theme in the story. The admonition in the contest section about using a return address seems to refer back to this story.

    As to the writing of the story, I don't think it equalled this aspect of its plot. A lot of it seems to simply be saying, "Fiddle dee dee, I can dance with a drink in my hand." And it didn't explain its title.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  14. Gordon Van Gelder

    Sam Tomiano reviews the issue for SFREVU:

    Posted 9 years ago #
  15. Gordon Van Gelder

    Another blogger comments:

    Posted 9 years ago #
  16. Gordon Van Gelder

    More blog about the issue:

    Posted 9 years ago #
  17. JohnWThiel

    Read "Seven Sins for Seven Dwarves", an easy-loading story written with true nonchalance.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  18. JohnWThiel

    It had a sincere look at Snow White as a real and complex person but should be expanded and thought out more fully.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  19. SamTomaino

    As anyone who read my review at knows. I really loved "The History of Cadmium." The story just blew me away.

    I do have one comic geek fanboy quibble wtih "Dr. Death vs the Vampire." It's "Spider-Man" not "Spiderman."

    Posted 9 years ago #
  20. Anonymous

    While I liked a few things about "Cadmium," I'm afraid my final reaction was quite different than Sam's.

    I liked the catchy title. I liked the "living" portrait. The prose was perfectly fine.


    What I didn't like were the characters. Cadmium's dead mother Cassandra, and her best friend (possibly bi-sexual lover) Julia, were promiscuous in their youth. Okay, no big deal. Nothing unusual about that, or who one chooses to experiment with sexually. (Still, and that said, they weren't exactly role models in the traditional sense of the term.)

    What I objected to was Cadmium's reaction when Julia drops her bombshell to Cadmium at the end. She believes her child _has no right_ to learn who the child's father is--and in part because Cadmium is a "post-feminist in a trans-gender world." Because Cadmium didn't really know who _her_ father might be, she chooses out of her bitterness to not let her own child know who its father is (Cadmium and the child's father are divorced).

    So we have a cotton candy story of love and loss and surprise revelation spun around the kernel of the three characters: Cassandra, Cadmium, and Julia. Cassandra and Julia screwed up and got pregnant out of wedlock. Cassandra (talented artist she may have been) is so nutso she walks around with her dead unborn baby until she is forced to go to the hospital to have it removed. Julia loves Cassandra so much she gives her own child at birth to Cassandra and Cadmium never knows the truth until the end of this goofy little soap opera. Then Cadmium, rather than thinking things through, lets her emotions do her thinking for her and decides that her own child will never know its true father either.

    Again, nary a role model in sight--but it's all gently and cozily wrapped in this cotton candy story of art and feelings. Julia is the only one who even pretended to do anything noble, by giving Casandra her own baby at birth. But look what happened down the road with even this well meant decision. Another mistake, as it ends up that Cadmium's child will bear the consequences.

    Sorry, but while the writing was fine, this one gets a solid Big Whoop and a Thumbs Down from me.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  21. Gordon Van Gelder

    Thanks for the correction, Sam, and thanks for the feedback, Dave.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  22. freemantim

    Here are my thoughts on two of the stories

    Posted 9 years ago #
  23. JohnWThiel

    Excellent story, very witty.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  24. JohnWThiel

    Except it sees no hope.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  25. JohnWThiel

    Well, I suppose there is no hope in this modern life, but so what?

    Posted 9 years ago #
  26. tomaq

    Blogulation right here:

    Fun experiment!


    Posted 9 years ago #
  27. Anonymous

    While I ended up not liking "Cadmium" so much, I did want to say that I thought this was a pretty good overall issue. I very much liked (for various and sundry reasons):

    "Why That Crazy Old Lady Goes Up the Mountain" by Michael Libling

    "Thief of Shadows" by Fred Chappell

    and Steven Popkes's chilling SF/H page-turner "The Crocodiles." That's three of the four novelettes.

    For the most part I also enjoyed the other novelette, Aaron Schutz's "Dr. Death vs. The Vampire," until it hit me that the reader is meant to feel sympathy for, and root for, Dr. Death. When I looked at him I decided he was a scumbag protagonist and he was but the lesser of two evils (the other, of course, being the Vampire). Dr. Death is given to the reader as an "almost-superhero." As such, he can choose to use his "super power" or not, whereas the evil Vampire acts only according to his nature. Dr. Death has a choice, the Vampire does not.

    If Dr. Death were to use his super power only to defeat Vampires, then he would be a true superhero, but he does not. Dr. Death chooses to—at his whim—kill people already dying of whatever disease (an old lady with cancer in the story). I have a problem with anyone deciding someone else should die—aside from the person themselves, or their family members. It's no one else's choice. But Dr. Death decides himself who he will kill prematurely and who he will not. Not a good guy, even though it is rationalized that he is merely easing their suffering and shortening it. Hmm. This brings to mind President Obama's answer during one of the Presidential debates where he sidesteps a direct answer to the question of whether or not his health care program would provide help to the elderly who might have only a few years to live. He said it would sometimes be better to "give grandma a pill" (to ease the pain) than to provide treatment. Maybe so, maybe not, but it whouldn't be the government's (or Obama's) choice to make. It should be the family and their doctor's decision—not the government's—or Dr. Death's. So I didn't care for the choice the author asked the reader to make here. We're asked to make the good guy someone with a super power he doesn't have to use, but does use, to kill whomever he desires. Not my kind of sympathetic protagonist. The rest of the story was Jim Dandy, but again, as in "Cadmium," I felt it unfair the reader was forced to root for an unlikable character (in this case a murderer in his own right). If Dr. Death wants to stick to offing Vampires exclusively, then there might be some dandy stories ahead for him, but otherwise I have no use for him.

    Of the eight short stories (at least those I have something I can say quickly), I enjoyed Sladek's humorous Bradbury spoof, Hilary Goldstein's take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Dale Bailey's touching "Silence," and Lokiko Hall's "The Gypsy's Boy."

    Rachel Pollack's "Forever" was "okay" but for some reason didn't work for me quite as well as "The Gypsy's Boy." Both are similar in that they attempt to show what happens when immortals (the Pollack) or other sorts of ethereal beings (the Hall) choose to comport with human beings on our mortal plane. In each of these cases, these immortals/beings end up having the human emotions they must adopt prove their downfall. In the Pollack, Forever must choose between saving a mortal she has come to inhabit or losing her immortality (IIRC), and in the Hall, the wind spirit who comes to love the blind boy Bireli must choose between her own selfish desire to have Bireli's love or allow him back his sight. You get tangled up in human emotions and even the gods pay the price sometimes.

    Robert Onopa's "The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe" was okay as far as it went. It kept me turning the pages (though not as quickly as some of the others, as we've read about runaway AIs of various sorts before), but I wanted to stick around to see where he was going with it—what new wrinkle he might have to add to the canon of these stories. All was preceeding in fairly typical fashion, and I was hoping for some neato resolution, and then wham—just another trite cliche of a "shocker" ending which shouldn't have been a shock to anyone who has read, or seen on tv or the movies, this type of ending a hundred times before. The air went out of my balloon quickly at this un-shocker of a trite ending, and I felt disappointed. The ending killed this story for me, I'm afraid.

    So I ended up liking (or really liking) 7 of the 12 stories, and all but one of the novelettes, on which more space must be gambled from the editor's pov. I suppose Popkes's "The Crocodiles" would count as my overall favorite of this issue, though I could read Fred Chappell stories all day (even though this particular "shadow" story, while good, wasn't his best in this series; I can't wait for more).

    And in re "Cadmium" and "Dr. Death": no, not every character has to be noble or likable in a story. It depends on the circumstances and context of each story, a case by case basis, as it were. In the above pair of cases the characters just weren't my cup of tea for the reasons given. One character will take out on her infant her own problems, while the other character chooses to kill not just evil Vampires, but takes it upon himself to decide who (among the sick) shall live and who shall die.

    Each reader's mileage, will, of course, vary, depending on their own personal moral priorities, and whether any character in these stories crossed any line, or not. But I find it fascinating to see what kind of protagonists we are asked to sympathize with, or even to cheer for in some stories (not just with F&SF, or these two stories).

    Posted 9 years ago #
  28. JohnWThiel

    The big objection to euthanasia, I think, is it is not allowing nature to take its course. This may be a preferred death to the afflicted, but he is not, of course, able to express this preference.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  29. Anonymous

    Hi, John,

    I'm not sure I understand your meaning with the above. What do you mean by "but he is not, of course, able to express this preference."? By "he" do you mean Dr. Death? If so, what "preference" is he not able to "express" exactly? Just asking. :)

    Purely on a personal note, I favor legalizing euthanasia, because it's a personal choice and no one else's. But only if there are strict measures put into place to insure against any sort of foul play or coercion, all that sort of stuff. If strict measures are put into place then I'd be all for legalizing euthanasia, but Dr. Death in this story is his own judge, jury, and executioner. With his type of super power comes immense responsibility. Using it to off Vampires is okey-dokey with me, but using it to quicken the death of anyone else _without their permission_ makes him an immoral murderer to my way of thinking. But that's just my personal take, and why I failed to like the story in its entirety--the remainder of it being fine and dandy and worthy of sequels.

    Posted 9 years ago #

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