Birthday Review: Selina Rosen’s “Food Quart”
Selina Rosen was born on Groundhog’s Day in 1960. Her first story, “Closet Enlightenment” was published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine in the Summer 1989 issue. She founded Yard Dog Press in 1995. Through Yard Dog, she published the Bubba series of anthologies as well as novels written by a variety of beginning and mid-list authors. Rosen published her first novels in 1999 through Meisha Merlin. In 2011 Rosen received the Phoenix Award for Lifetime Achievement for the work she did at Yard Dog Press and for supporting and encouraging up and coming authors.
“Food Quart” was purchased by Esther Friesner for Fangs for the Mammaries, a 2010 anthology of humorous vampire stories set in suburbia. It has not been reprinted.
Mark has been working as a nighttime security guard at a suburban mall for three years when he’s called into his boss’s office over an incident the security cameras caught. A body had been found at the mall and while reviewing the evidence, Mark’s boss, Walt, and a local police officer began wondering why Mark didn’t appear in any of the security footage.
Having lived a long time, Rosen’s vampire is unconcerned being discovered. Rather than wait for his interrogators to come to their own conclusions about his nature, Mark admits it. Rosen’s story explores the response the three have to the revelation, from complete disbelief to acceptance to Mark’s plan to quickly leave the area and set up someone else, even as he comes to realize that he had been working at the mall longer than he had stayed in one place since becoming a vampire.
Rosen’s take on vampires is also quite mundane and she looks at what might be important to an immortal being and how they would view the world and protect their own existence. Mark is a long way from the vampires of Bram Stoker or F.W. Murnau or even Stephanie Meyer, offering instead the worldview of a working class version of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Saint-Germain. A final encounter between Mark and Walt provides an unexpected ending for Mark as he prepares to leave for newer pastures.
Reviewed in its only publication in the anthology Fangs for the Mammaries, edited by Esther M. Friesner, Baen Books, 2010.
Steven H Silver is a fifteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Big White Men—Attack!” in Little Green Men—Attack! Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever read anything published by Baen. Some of their covers actually interest me in possibly buying a book from them, such as their monster and weird west stuff. But the more Baen covers I see, the more they strike me as taking up the “white trash” slice of sci-fi/fantasy/horror. Though I’m not saying there is anything particularly (morally) wrong with that. Perhaps something (aesthetically) violating?
They definitely pursue the young male teen demographic, with a strong focus on military/adventure SF, adventure fantasy, and series like their long running CHICKS IN CHAINMAIL.
Their founder, Jim Baen, was the editor at Ace in the 70s (under publisher Tom Doherty, who later founder Tor Books). Jim carried the 70s Ace marketing sensibilities with him to Baen Books, including a powerful adventure streak, with covers that chiefly attracted teen boys.
The cover artist for the book above, Clyde Caldwell, was recruited to Baen from TSR, where his style of art was strongly associated with fantasy adventure through his famous work for the second edition AD&D line (which almost exclusively sold to male teens in the 70s and 80s).
A lot of the Baen covers do have a tendency towards the feel of updating pulp cover style, although with a more modern artistic look to them (compare this cover to the Margaret Brundage cover discussed on January 24 (C.L. Moore)).
I’ve always liked Clyde Caldwell’s art, but this is the most Baen cover that ever Baened a Baen.
I read all (I believe) of Ether Friesner edited “Chicks in Chainmail” books. They were a great series that tried to highlight female protagonists (and female writers) in science fiction. Like Marion Zimmer Bradley Magazine but with more humor.
Also, if you’ve never read Baen, then you’ve never read Honor Harington, and that should be remedied.
If Cassandra Peterson didn’t get a royalty on this cover, she certainly should have.