Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mundanespotting February 2007

Posted by frankh at 4:41 PM
I read most of these and then had some distractions before I wrote this up, so some of these thoughts are a bit stale. This is my first sustained reading of Jim Baen’s Universe (JBU), which is an electronic periodical using the subscription model. With the “big three” in perpetual circulation decline, and the “corporate patron model” of SciFiction shriveling up and dying, maybe this is the future for short “speculative” fiction. I found JBU to be an interesting alternative to the mostly stale form that is Analog (which had a double issue for January-February, covered last time). Interzone is at the other end of spectrum—a full-blown colorful magazine. The mundane-ness of this particular Interzone didn’t excite me, but overall the magazine is great to have (though quite expensive to import) as a counterpoint to the U.S.-centric sources.

Short fiction contents from:
Interzone 208 (February 2007)
F&SF February 2007
Asimov's February 2007
JBU Volume 1 Number 5 (February 2007), excluding “classic” stories

“War Stories” by Elizabeth Bear (JBU short): soldiers in a mundane future; not very interesting to me
— “I Could’ve Done Better” by Gregory Benford and David Brin (JBU short): historical fantasy with time travel, apparently; that is, crap
— “Demonstration Day” by Ian Creasey (JBU short): unserious and not mundane
— “Storm Warning” by Robert Cruze (JBU medium): ridiculous solar system space story, thankfully with ftl communications so I could stop reading at that point
— “The Star Necromancers” Alexander Marsh Freed (Interzone medium): “We await the necromancers in the palace of the Gloriarch, whispering to one another as jealous eyes watch from dataspace an mnemetic pollens cloud the air.” Yawn. Space opera or far future science-is-magic or both, or otherwise un-mundane.
“Red Card” by S. L. Gilbow (F&SF short story): interesting sociological story in the 1950s “Galaxy” mode; an odd future that may not be very convincing to many, but is quite mundane
— “Pawn’s Gambit” by Carol Hightshoe (JBU short): fantasy
— “Brain Raid” by Alexander Jablokov (F&SF novelet): an AI story that could go either way for me as mundane because it’s an interesting take on the sociology of this particular (otherwise) mundane future; I’m calling this story “not mundane” based on personal whim about AI; I think real AI could eventually come, but it is not at all on the near future horizon; the “bigger computers are smarter computers” argument failed long ago in real life, but lives on through too much crappy sf; if you think otherwise then this story is worth a mundane read
“Old Folks’ Home” by John Kratman (JBU short): traditional adventure story about a retirement home in orbit; silly, but I’ll let it pass for mundane
“Where the Water Meets the Sky” by Jay Lake (Interzone short): mundane ecological future in the U.S.; story didn’t leave much of an impression
— “Cold Fire” by Tanith Lee (Asimov’s short story): some sort of pirate fantasy or alternative history
“Empty Clouds” by G.D. Leeming (Interzone short): mundane ecological future in China; story didn’t leave much of an impression
— “A Stranger in Paradise” by Edward M. Lerner (JBU longish): ftl space opera far future crap
— “The Spiral Road” by Louise Marley (JBU longish): fantasy
“Marklord Pete” by Wil McCarthy (JBU longish): fun speculation about law and intellectual property; would likely be quite tiresome if bloated to novel length; in this form, my favorite story from this batch
— “Islington Crocodiles” by Paul Meloy (Interzone long): funky urban story; I read one chapter and would have kept going if this had any real hope of not being a fantasy
— “A Portrait of the Artist” by Charles Midwinter (Asimov’s short story): not very convincing story about an artist in some sort of biotech future, but otherwise I’ll say it’s mundane enough
— “Fool” by John Morressy (F&SF novelet): fantasy
— “Close” by William Preston (Asimov’s short story): psychological story with an un-mundane ending
— “Recovering Apollo 8” by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch (Asimov’s novella): alternate history
— “The Chimera Transit” by Jack Skillingstead (Asimov’s short story): escaping Earth with ftl
— “Stone and the Librarian” by William Browning Spencer (F&SF short story): nice tribute to Robert E. Howard, but too much of a stretch to be anything but a fantasy
— “The Goblin Hunter” by Jeff Stehman (JBU short): fantasy
— “Softly Shining in the Forbidden Dark” by Jason Stoddard (Interzone long): characters seem to be “jacking in” to some sort of “group mind” on trips to Alpha Centauri; might be mundane in some far out wacky sense, but I didn’t give it much of a chance
— “Rebel the First” by Edd Vick (JBU short): fantasy
— “Outgoing” by Alex Wilson (Asimov’s novelette): space story that might be mundane if it wasn’t utterly ridiculous; I am embarrassed that something like this was published in a magazine with Isaac Asimov’s name on it

Again, 7 stories that made the cut, but I’m less excited about this batch than the January ones. Asimov’s was especially disappointing this time. This issue of JBU has Mike Resnick as editor, apparently for the first time, so it’s too early to tell what direction he is taking it. Being able to publish a pile of stories without worrying about fitting them into an artifact of a specific size must be nice for the editor. Stay tuned.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Silly and mundane!

--John Kratman

8/06/2007 03:45:00 PM  
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