Fiction Review -
by Steven Sawicki
To have your magazine or short fiction work mentioned here send a copy to Steve Sawicki, 2824 Furbeck Rd., Altamont, NY 12009. Everything received will be considered. Items not sent will not. Publications Index
In this Column: Fantasy & Science Fiction (Feb 2004), Nymph, Dead Planets, Unhallowed Stars, Space and Time (#97), Oceans of the Mind (Winter 2003-4), Novelties and Souvenirs
Paolo Bacigalupi’s novelette “The People of Sand and Slag” leads off the February issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This is a really weird story about a future Earth that is toxic but which the future Earthlings have adapted to. Charles DeLint and Michelle West both provide book review columns. “Rapper” by Albert E. Cowdrey follows and is a fun short story about an old woman in New Orleans who has a difficult time getting rid of a troublesome young man. Seems he keeps reincarnating. “Invisible Kingdoms” a short story by Steven Utley comes next. It’s about time travel, aging, a battle of wits and Paleozoic gardens. It’s wildly unusual. Daryl Gregory’s short story, “Free and Clear” is about allergies and the lengths one man goes to find alleviation. Not the best story in the issue. Lucius Shepherd’s Film column provides a brief respite between the fiction offerings. This is followed by the novelette “Metal More Attractive” by Ysabeau S. Wilce which is labeled as a gothic fantasy. It was too literate for me. Chet Williamson’s “The Pebbles of Sai-No-Kawara” is a short story that passed me by completely. Well written but too obtuse for my tired little mind. The final fiction offering, “River of the Queen” by Robert Reed, another novelette, redeems the issue. It continues the adventures of Quee Lee and Perri, not that you need that information to enjoy it. The final piece in the issue is David Langford’s Curiosities. The cover, for “Invisible Kingdoms” is by Bob Eggleton.
Nymph by Francesca Lia Block is a new paperback that I’ve been remiss in talking about. The book came out in September from Circlet Press and includes 9 short stories in the erotic vein. Block is a YA author who has broken the mold here in stories designed for a definite adult reader. Stay away if you’re offended by four letter words and fairly graphic descriptions of ‘the act.’ However, if you yearn for good writing without boundaries then this might be for you. Block writes with a poetic style which is simply captivating.
Dead Planets, Unhallowed Stars, Tim Curran, Dark Tree Press, P. O. Box 748, Boylston, MA 01505, $6, ($7 Canada, $8 elsewhere), Digest Sized, color cover, 80 pgs. http://members.aol.com/darktreepress. This is a chapbook which contains 6 short stories. 4 have seen previous publication in the small press mag Burning Sky while the other 2 are original to this chapbook. The stories are set on dead planets, hence the name, and deal with the humans who end up there. Whether it’s a frozen ball of ice or a vast desert these places are not conducive to the continuation of life. Curran deals with the scifi horror mix very well and the stories are all very readable and enjoyable. Great stuff.
I have issue #97 of Space and Time in my hands. This is one of the longest running fantasy. horror and science fiction small press magazines around. It’s published semi annually, more or less. This issue contains ”New World Order” a story by Beverly Bonnie O’Neil, Poetry by Mary Soon Lee, Jill Bauman, Jack Fisher, Jennifer Crow, Corrinne De Winter, Mario Miolosevic, Charles Payne, Kathryn Hasell, Roibeard Ui-Neill, Eric Myford and Lucy Cohen Schmeidler. Jeff Carlson has a short story titled “Monsters” and A.R. Morlan has one called “Taking Down the Book of the Rough Beast.” Terry McGarry’s short story “Antymire” is followed by an interesting, albeit very short, interview of Thomas Ligotti done by Mathew Lee Bain. Bayard’s short story “She Isn’t and I Don’t” is followed by Jeffrey Goddin’s “The Substitute.” The final piece is a short story by J. W. Donnelly entitled “Adrift the Song of Storms.” The issue is copiously illustrated and the cover is by Monte Davis.
The Australian writers themed Winter issue of Oceans of the Mind just arrived with lead off short short story “Baa Humbug” by Terry Dartnell. This is followed by Jack Wodhams “Side Effects” which is followed by Keith Stevenson’s “To That Which Kills.” “Making a Difference” by Dave Luckett paces the middle of the issue, followed by the must read Stephen Dedman’s “Desiree”, Rob Hood’s “Lady of the Flies”, and Terry Dowling’s must read “Flashmen.” Richard Harlan closes out this issue with his story “New Talk.” If I’m not mistaken Oceans has grown in size recently and is certainly at the head of the list when you’re talking about email delivered magazines.
I normally don’t talk too much about books that spurt out of the mainstream. But, Novelties and Souvenirs by John Crowley (Harper Collins Trade $ 13.95 03/01/04) will probably not get a lot of mention based on the kind of writing that Crowley does. This is too bad as Crowley fills a niche that is sorely lacking in quality work. Crowley is a stylist and a storyteller and often writes right at the edge of his abilities. Sometimes he crosses over and reaches too far but even these misses are works of art. There are fifteen stories and novellas here covering a twenty five-year period of Crowley’s writing. I can’t admit to liking everything here but I like most of it and, to be honest, there are three or four stories that are simply exceptional, like “The Nightingale Sings At Night” and “In-Blue.” The book is scheduled for a May 2004 release. Watch for it. (Editor's Note: Novelties and Souvenirs is scheduled for review in SFRevu when it comes out)