A Brief History of Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine

Saturday, April 14th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Pulphouse the Hardcover Magazine-small

In 1988 I had just started grad school at the University of Illinois, and finally moved out of my parent’s basement. I’d also left my book collection behind and settled into a small dorm room. I continued collecting, albeit in a much more cramped space, and as the years went by the book piles on the floor gradually grew into towering stacks that made moving around tough. I graduated just in time in 1991, before I completely ran out of floor space, and moved into my first apartment (with real bookcases!) in Wheaton, Illinois.

While in grad school I missed my regular runs to the shops to buy magazines, and during my periodic trips back to Ottawa I was hungry for any fiction mags I could find. My friends were talking about a strange book/magazine crossbreed titled Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine and, curious, I picked up a few issues at the House of Speculative Fiction on my next visit. It turned out to be very impressive indeed, and over the next few years I bought copies whenever I found them.

Pulphouse was closer to a regular anthology series than a magazine; its quarterly issues varied between 243 and 311 pages, and featured a compelling mix of new and established authors. It was the brainchild of Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch; the first issue appeared in 1988, and it stuck to a quarterly schedule for three years, before wrapping up with issue #12 in Fall of 1993.

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Birthday Reviews: John Dalmas’s “In the Bosom of His Family”

Monday, December 3rd, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by C.A. Beal

Cover by C.A. Beal

John Dalmas was born John Jones on December 3, 1926 and died on June 15, 2017.

Dalmas first book The Yngling was serialized in Analog in 1969 and published in book form in 1971. Dalmas began publishing regularly in the 1980s, producing the Fanglith books and The Regiment series, as well as many short stories. In addition to his career as an author Dalmas worked for the US Forest Service.

Dalmas originally published “In the Bosom of His Family” in the October 1989 issue of Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Volume 5: Horror, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The story has never been reprinted.

Although “In the Bosom of His Family” is an horror story, the true horror of the tale doesn’t become apparent until near the end. It focuses on Charley Greer, part of a family of ranchers who have been settled in the valley for generations. Everything is done the “Greer Way,” including procreation. The eldest sons are expected to marry and have children while the younger sons are expected to remain single and stay on to help the family ranch. Charley is the second son and is helping out, but he is also dying of cancer and realizes his time is near.

Dalmas focuses on the familial ties and the sense of filial obligation, but Charley also sees his sister-in-law pregnant with a child who will follow in Charley’s role. Charley also reflects on his own uncle Charley, a younger brother who he never met, but whose life he is emulating and who he heard stories about from his grandfather and did his best to evoke his grandfather’s memories of him.

Seeing the life around him and the life expected for his potential nephew, Charley decides that rather than die on the ranch, as is the Greer way, he would head to the hospital, even if it meant an arduous trek overland since he didn’t want to have to ask for a ride. As Charley makes his way, it becomes evident that the Greer way is more than just tradition and Charley wasn’t just channeling his uncle, but rather there is an element of reincarnation at play and Charley’s life as a second son was a continuation of his uncle’s life, just as Charley’s nephew will be a reincarnation of him. Charley’s hope is that by dying far away from the ranch, he might be able to spare his nephew that fate.

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Birthday Reviews: Lisa Goldstein’s “Death Is Different”

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Bradley Clark

Cover by Bradley Clark

Lisa Goldstein was born on November 21, 1953. She has also published under the pseudonym Isabel Glass.

Goldstein won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History for her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden” in 2012 and the same year won a Mythopoeic Award for her novel The Uncertain Places. She was also a two-time nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and has had works nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award.

“Death is Different” was originally published in the September 1988 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Gardner Dozois. The next year Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling included it in The Year’s Best Fantasy: Second Annual Collection. It was also translated into Italian by Claudia Verpelli for the anthology Millemondiestate 1989: 3 Romanzi brevi e 9 Racconti. Dozois reprinted the story in his anthology Transcendental Tales from Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and Goldstein included it in her collection Daily Voices, published by Pulphouse Publishing as the third volume in their Author’s Choice Monthly series. The story was translated into French for inclusion in the 1991 anthology Territoires de l’inquiétude 3, edited by Alain Dorémieux. Goldstein also included it in her 1994 collection Travellers in Magic.

Monica is a reporter who has been sent to the third world country of Amaz to write a story. Although she has been warned to be careful by both her editor and her husband when she tries to report on the clash between Communist backed rebels and US backed government forces, when her local guide asks what she most wants to do, she tells him that she wants to meet with the rebel leader. Her guide sets up a meeting which she had deemed impossible, but the night before it is scheduled, she hears multiple reports that the leader had been killed.

When she fails to attend the meeting her guide is upset, letting her know that “Death is different” in Amaz. When she eventually follows his directions, she does meet with someone who claims to be Cumaq, the Communist leader, who speaks in riddles and won’t answer her questions directly, including whether he is alive or not, although he does note that the rumors of his death were not exaggerated. Eventually she returns safely home, only to discover that while she was away her husband was killed in a car accident. Remembering what her guide says, she decides to return to Amaz to see if she can find him, only to discover that Amaz has a Brigadoon-like quality to it.

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Birthday Reviews: Michael Bishop’s “Patriots”

Monday, November 12th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Michael Whelan

Cover by Michael Whelan

Michael Bishop was born on November 12, 1945.

Bishop won back to back Nebula Awards in 1982 for his novelette “The Quickening” and in 1983 for his novel No Enemy But Time. In 2009, he won the Shirley Jackson Award for “The Pile,” His novel Unicorn Mountain received the Mythopoeic Award, and his poem “For a Lady Physicist” won the Rhysling Award. He has twice won the Southeastern SF Achievement Award for his stories “The Door Gunner” and “Bears Discover Smut.” In 1977, he was awarded the Phoenix Award by DeepSouthCon. His novel Brittle Innings is one of the best fantasy baseball novels ever published.

“Patriots” was originally published in issue six of Shayol, edited by Pat Cadigan in Winter 1982. It has been reprinted twice, first in Bishop’s Arkham House collection One Winter in Eden in 1984 and later in his collection Emphatically Not SF, Almost, as part of the Pulphouse Author’s Choice Monthly series.

Bishop’s “Patriots” fits well into his collection Emphatically Not SF, Almost because it really isn’t science fiction. It is the story of two American servicemen stationed on Guam during the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Danny Rojas and Sergeant Monegal. Rojas is concerned that he is facing a court martial and fine for his actions in Southeast Asia. The older Monegal convinces him to go for a walk with the hope that Rojas will share his great crime as a form of atonement and will go back to being his normal self.

On their walk, the two come across an older Japanese businessman, Jinsai Fujita, and his Guamian girlfriend, Rebecca Facpi. The Fujita and Monegal try to jolly Rojas out of his funk when they suddenly come under fire from a Japanese soldier who has been living on Guam since World War II and is not convinced that the war is over, and has been fighting it for longer than Rojas has been alive.

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Birthday Reviews: Robert J. Howe’s “The Little American Man: A True Pelvic Story”

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover photo by Beth Gwinn

Cover photo by Beth Gwinn

Robert J. Howe was born on October 10, 1957.

Howe’s fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Black Gate 14 (with “The Natural History of Calamity”). He co-edited the anthology Coney Island Wonder Stories with John Ordover. Howe served as Secretary of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American from 2010-2012. He is married to SF editor Eleanor Lang.

“The Little American Man: A True Pelvic Story” is a surreal tale set in Latin America. Pilar is a prostitute who notes that she likes the American client she has recently had who pays, doesn’t try to romance her, and doesn’t take up too much of time. A pregnancy scare forces her to visit her physician, Doctor Escobar, and his examination reveals that while not pregnant, a tiny version of the American man is living inside her. Although Escobar offers to remove the squatter, Pilar refuses.

Over the next several weeks, Pilar changes her business model from turning tricks to allowing people to view the little American man inside her. As time progresses, the man begins decorating his surroundings and adding furnishings, although neither Pilar nor Howe seem particularly curious about the method he has for obtaining his décor. Although Pilar does ask him about his plans and his name, he refuses to answer any of her questions and she allows them to pass.

In the course of the story, Doctor Escobar give his diagnoses of the little American man’s presence as “uterocolonialism,” which seems a reasonable interpretation of his actions, even if his presence seems benign. However, no matter how little direct impact he seems to have on Pilar, his very presence appears to make changes to her as she is unable to conduct her traditional business and she realizes that she is aging more rapidly than she should. By the time Pilar asks Doctor Escobar to remove the little man, it is too late.

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Birthday Reviews: Ray Vukcevich’s “Ornamental Animals”

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Timothy Caldwell and Rick Lieder

Cover by Timothy Caldwell and Rick Lieder

Ray Vukcevich was born on September 11, 1946.

Vukcevich was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 2002 for his collection Meet Me in the Moon Room. His novelette “The Wages of Syntax” was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2004. Vukcevich has published two collections of his own short stories, the novel The Man of Maybe Half-A-Dozen Faces, and a short anthology that collected one of his short stories and one of Kelly Link’s short stories that was given away at a World Horror Convention.

“Ornamental Animals” was published in the fifteenth issue of Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine sometime early in 1993. By the time this issue was published, Pulphouse had backed away from the weekly schedule it had initially set for itself (and never achieved) and claimed to be a monthly magazine, although only two issues appeared in 1993. The story has never been reprinted.

In “Ornamental Animals,” Amy Grindle is an aspiring model who has a habit of going through catalogs and magazines she appears in and clipping photos of herself from the pages, although her face has yet to be shown in any of them. On a whim, as she went through the catalog, Amy decided to purchase a set of two genetically modified cats, although she really knew very little about them or the company that makes them. Because of that, she was quite surprised when she eventually received her pair of “Fire Cats.”

Although Fire Cats look more or less like non-genetically engineered cats, they do have some differences, which Amy learns about quite quickly, partly due to the cats’ response to her and partly because once she received them she realized she should read the manual on their care and feeding. She quickly learns that although the cats are alive, they don’t offer any of the traditional benefits of pets. They are born without joints, except in their jaws, and therefore can’t move and must be fed manually. Even more intriguing is the talent that gives them their name. When certain conditions are met, the cat’s heads explode in flame, although the cats themselves are all right.

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Birthday Reviews: Steve Perry’s “A Few Minutes in the Plantation Bar and Grill Outside Woodville, Mississippi”

Friday, August 31st, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Kiosea39-Dreamstine

Cover by Kiosea39-Dreamstine

Steve Perry was born on August 31, 1947.

He has written novels in his Matador series and several stand-alone novels as well as the novelizations of Titan A.E. and Men in Black. He has also written books set in the Star Wars and Aliens universes and has collaborated with J. Michael Reaves, Gary A. Braunbeck, Dal Perry, Larry Segriff, and S.D. Perry, his daughter. Steve Perry is not the same Steve Perry who wrote for Thundercats.

Perry’s “A Few Minutes in the Plantation Bar and Grill Outside Woodville” was published in January 2018 in the first issue of the revamped Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, edited by Dean Wesley Smith. Only published earlier this year, the story has not, of course, been reprinted elsewhere.

Deals with the Devil stories are common in science fiction and fantasy to the extent that in 1994, Mike Resnick, Loren D. Estleman, and Martin H. Greenberg edited an anthology entitled Deals with the Devil. One of the things they all seem to have in common is an urbane Lucifer who is trying to trick someone into selling their soul, often without knowing it, in return for dreams coming true. Sometimes people accept the offer, other times, they don’t. Perry’s “A Few Minutes in the Plantation Bar and Grill Outside Woodville” follows the standard offer model.

This is Perry’s fourth story in his “A Few Minutes” series of stories, three of which appeared in Pulphouse (The off-one out appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). This story has the Devil approach an aging blues guitarist who is playing in small rooms around the south. He makes his standard offers, but each are rejected. The musician is old and points out that George Harrison left money behind when he died, his career is successful enough for him and at more than seventy he doesn’t have a lot of time left. The Devil becomes more and more insistent in his offers, but is ultimately rejected when Perry provides an interesting twist to the standard story.

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Birthday Reviews: Kate Wilhelm’s “State of Grace”

Friday, June 8th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Orbit 19

Orbit 19

Kate Wilhelm was born on June 8, 1928 and died on March 8, 2018.

She won the Hugo Award twice, for her novel Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang and the book Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. She won the Nebula three times for the short stories “The Planners” and “Forever Yours, Anna,” and the novelette “The Girl Who Fell into the Sky.” She helped establish the SFWA and Clarion Workshop, and helped run the early Milford Writers Workshops. Along with husband Damon Knight, she was a Pro Guest of Honor at Noreascon Two and received the Gallun Award for contributions to science fiction. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003. She received an inaugural Solstice Award in 2009 and in 2016, the awards was renamed the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award in her honor.

Wilhelm sold “State of Grace” to Damon Knight for inclusion in Orbit 19 in 1977. It appeared in her collection Somerset Dreams and Other Fictions in 1978 and in the collection State of Grace, part of Pulphouse Publishing’s Author’s Choice Monthly series in 1991. In 1980, the story was translated into French for the publication of Quand somerset rêvait, a translation of Somerset Dreams and Other Fictions.

“State of Grace” is the story of a deteriorating marriage in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky. The narrator believes she has seen small creatures living in the oak tree in her backyard and she begins to work to protect the unseen creatures and take care of them, providing them with food, water and other essentials. Her husband, on the other hand, gets the inkling that there may be something in the tree that could be worth quite a bit of money and he decides he needs to capture them.

The argument over the tree escalates as she tries to help the creatures and he gets more and more anxious about their presence and his attempts to remove them, including a brief try to cut down the tree. When he goes into the tree, something causes him to change his mind and he accepts the creatures’ presence.

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Birthday Reviews: May Index

Friday, June 1st, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Allen Koszowski

Cover by Allen Koszowski

Cover by Bob Eggleton

Cover by Bob Eggleton

Cover by Douglas Chaffee

Cover by Douglas Chaffee

January index
February index
March index
April index

May 1, Joel Rosenberg: “The Blink of a Wizard’s Eye
May 2, Anne Harris: “The House
May 3, Michael Cadnum: “Elf Trap
May 4, Shaenon K. Garrity: “To Whatever
May 5, Catherynne M. Valente: “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica
May 6, Craig Strete: “Time Deer

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The Late May Fantasy Magazine Rack

Monday, May 28th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Analog Science Fiction Science Fact May June 2018-small Apex May 2018-small The Dark magazine May 2018-small Lightspeed May 2018-small
Asimov's Science Fiction May June 2018-small Clarkesworld May 2018-small The Digest Enthusiast 8-small Nightmare May 2018-small

The back half of May is filled with great print magazines, including the latest Analog, with the concluding installment of our very own Derek Künsken’s debut novel The Quantum Magician. Asimov’s SF has new novellas from two sets of collaborators, Rick Wilber & Alan Smale, and David Gerrold & Ctein, plus lots of shorter fiction. And last but not least, just before we went to press I received a copy of the June issue of The Digest Enthusiast, a handsome magazine with plenty of reviews, articles and artwork of interest to anyone who collects vintage fiction magazines from the mid-20th Century and later.

All told it’s a star-studded crop of fresh reading, and no mistake. The magazines above include brand new stories from Nancy Kress, Paul Park, Jane Lindskold (twice!), Nalo Hopkinson, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Wil McCarthy, Mary Soon Lee, William Ledbetter, Stephen L. Burns, Sam J. Miller, Robert Reed, Marissa Lingen, Cherie Priest, Rich Larson, Sue Burke, Marc Laidlaw, Bo Balder, A Que, Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty, Michael F. Flynn, Michael Wehunt, and plenty more.

Here’s the complete list of magazines that won my attention in late May (links will bring you to magazine websites).

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