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Flurb 12 – Fall-Winter 2011
Edited by Rudy Rucker
Review by Sam Tomaino
Flurb  ISBN/ITEM#: Online Magazine
Date: 28 September 2011

Links: Flurb / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Flurb#12 is an online magazine with stories by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo, Emily C. Skaftun, Adam Callaway, A.S. Salinas, Brendan Byrne, Don Webb, Will Ellwood, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Anna Tambour, Justin Patrick Moore, Ernest Hogan, Martin Hayes, and Eileen Gunn.

Well, I have finally noticed Flurb, an online magazine published and edited by Rudy Rucker. It's only been going since 2006 and this is issue #12. A quick look at the titles of the stories indicates that these are VERY unusual, even for our genre. What would one expect from Rudy Rucker? Here's what he writes in his editorial: 'I started this webzine of astonishing tales back in 2006 because I couldn't find a place for a strong but uncategorizable story, Elves of the Subdimension, that I'd written with old pro Paul Di Filippo. Paul in fact inspired the title for my webzine by writing a line where one of our elves remarks: "Of flurbing they know not!"’ You can find the issue at http://www.flurb.net. You can also find the contents of the previous eleven issues.

The issue begins with "Fjaerland" by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo. Mark and Laura are on the run in Norway. They had developed the Yotsa 7, a semiotic analyzer, lenses that could reveal "the deeper meanings of the objects in view". The feds had seized it and charged them with trumped-up crimes. In Norway, they are staying in a hotel and Mark uses the lenses to look at a book called God Bøk that Laura had acquired. He has a vision of their landlady and a tentacle monster. Things develop in a surprising way from there for a great story from two of the genre's most imaginative writers.

"The Curse of the Were-Penis" by Emily C. Skaftun is centered on Hal who had a strange encounter one night, about four weeks before the start of our story. Now, during a full moon, his penis has become monstrous with a will of his own. Against his will, he rapes a pizza-delivery girl. What will happen at the next full moon? This was a definitely different kind of story and its end might surprise you.

I don't usually read the stories in a magazine or book in order so "Pulped and Bound Monsters" by Adam Callaway was one of the last stories I read. If I thought the other stories were unusual, this one was even stranger, and that's a good thing. The story is told, mostly, from the point of view of Samson the paper-maché panther. His owner and maker is an eleven year old girl named Varvarra. She has been in the city of Ars Lacuna for a month now and Samson is worried about her. He goes to look for her and has quite an adventure. It's hard to describe the world of this story in a few words except that it revolves around the publishing and printing of books. It's wildly imaginative and quite a good read. You should check it out.

"The Robert Armstrong Syndicated Comic Strip" by A.S. Salinas purports to be the script of a late 1930s comic strip which had artwork by Alex Raymond. We are not told who the writer was. Armstrong, not to be confused with the actor who played Carl Denham in the original King Kong, is an interplanetary adventurer, a science-fictional James Bond type. The excerpt details an adventure on Titan. It's a lot of fun but is so modern in its attitudes and concepts that the idea that it was written in the 1930s does not wash. Still, as I said, it's a lot of fun.

Brendan Byrne's "I Can't Escape From You" is another story which is part of a novel and is narrated by a man who is some sort of political prisoner. He has been in prison for more than three years and now he is taken on a long train ride. He is then taken off the train and given a car with a rifle in it. He is supposed to shoot someone. It gets a bit tedious being in this guy's mind and the end might or might not be inconclusive.

"Big Ripples Without a Splash" by Don Webb is a chilling story about Brian who contemplates suicide but decides against it so as not to hurt his mother. He realizes he can invent a way to circumvent this problem. He develops a simulated human who is indistinguishable from the human whose personality is programmed into it. Then, people are free to commit suicide because no one will know. This ends any worldly suffering which changes things dramatically. I'd like to say this could not happen, but I'm not sure I can. Webb writes a truly effective, unsettling tale.

In "Walls Between Worlds" by Will Ellwood, Arkady works for the Ministry of Defense in some version of London. It seems that he has traveled to a couple of other worlds and even found a wife in one of them. He meets Rose, an old friend, and risks all to tell her what happened to Peter, someone she cares about. This was quite an interesting story and managed to conver a lot in just four pages.

"The Onset of a Paranormal Romance" by Bruce Sterling is adapted from his novel in progress Love Is Strange. It consists of the vignettes about people attending a futurist conference on the island of Capri. The first features a brother and sister, Gavin and Eliza Tremaine. He is a working futurist. She is a seventeen-year old goth girl with dreams of being a rock and roll princess. The other story is about a woman named Farfalla Corrado who is working at the conference. Not much happens.

"Everything Is Broken" by John Shirley is just an excerpt from a novel of the same name. Russ moves across country to live with his father in a town called Freedom, California. There are quakes that portend a disaster that does happen. I can't really say much about a story excerpt.

In "The Oyster and Alice O" by Anna Tambour, Alice O. is a beautiful young woman who is saved from a loutish man by an oyster. I will leave it to you to see how that happened. They develop a close relationship and find pleasure in one another. You've never read anything like this before and you'll enjoy the experience of reading it here.

"Gertrude and Ludwig Spin a Web" by Justin Patrick Moore, the title characters are Gertrude Stein and Ludwig Wittgenstein. We ate told that they in some other reality, they married, set aside their sexual preferences and had children. Unbeknownst to them, a spider had got in the works of their home nuclear reactor and had altered their children. The grandchildren of Gertrude and Ludwig wound up to be spider-babies and things got stranger from there. This was another wonderfully bizarre story.

The title character in "Xuanito" by Ernest Hogan is a young man from the barrio who'd rather be doing a drug called kaboombo than going to a job fair like his mother wants him to. When he attends the job fair, high on kaboombo, he stops at the General Hallucinogenetics booth an winds up taking more of the informational drug they developed than he should have. The result is pretty spectacular and makes for a very amusing read.

"Concerning Tavia" by Martin Hayes is a beautiful, little story about a man and the girl he dreamed of first, as a boy, and then, toward the end of his life. His visions have caused him to be labeled mad but he persisted. There is not much more to say about this other than the prose was wonderful to read.

The issue concludes with "After the Thaw" by Eileen Gunn. Elise is awakened after a cryogenic sleep, but not into anything like a human body. The story details her conversations with a couple of Artificial Intelligences that aren't a whole lot of help for her situation. The story is pretty amusing and is a good way to end the issue.

Well, as I said at the outset, these are not your average stories. If you want something different, I recommend that you check out their web site at http://www.flurb.net. You have nothing to lose. It's free.

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