February 2016 Asimov’s Science Fiction Now on Sale

Monday, February 8th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Asimov's Science Fiction February 2016-smallIn her editorial in the latest issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Sheila Williams explains why SF often gets a bad rap for predicting the future.

As I write this, I am awash in the flood of published reminisces about Back to the Future Part II’s journey into the future…. Most of these ruminations seem to be rather disappointed with the real 2015… They claim that these special effects from a late eighties flight of fantasy were somehow promised to all of us, but the future didn’t deliver.

I’ve seen these sort of complaints levied at science fiction on numerous occasions. Robots don’t have positronic brains, dilithium crystals are not a thing, and settlements on the Moon and Mars remain a distant dream. Yet anyone who’s at all conversant with SF soon realizes that most science fiction is descriptive rather than predictive…

For all his forward thinking, Isaac was as much a product of his time as any writer. Although he eventually became an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, his early fiction described a society that wasn’t very different from his own… While I’d love to have an FTL drive that would take me to Terminus and Trantor, I don’t want the future to look like the world of 1951, and I don’t expect it to look like 2016. I don’t fault the young man who created that society unaware of the actual changes in mores and social structure that lay ahead anymore than I’d fault today’s writers for not getting their future facts straight.

I’m glad that our prospects are still unknown. I wouldn’t mind a jetpack, but I’m happy that so far we aren’t standing on Nevil Shute’s beach waiting for death from nuclear fallout or from Racoona Sheldon’s screwfly solution.

The first interview I ever did, as a young internet blogger for SF Site in 1997, was a phone interview with the late writer and editor Algis Budrys. He argued the exact same thing. “Why should SF predict anything?… SF is for speculating, not predicting,” he told me. I debated the point at the time, but over the years I’ve come to see that he — and Sheila — are right.

Read Sheila’s complete editorial here.

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The Galaxy Science Fiction $6,500 Novel-Writing Sham

Saturday, February 6th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew Wuertz

Galaxy Science Fiction March 1953-smallIn the March, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, H. L. Gold announed a novel contest. Simon and Schuster and Galaxy partnered together to offer a $6,500 prize, “guaranteed to the author of the best original science fiction novel submitted.”

The $6,500 was only a minimum for the first world serial and TV rights. It was the largest cash prize offered to date for a science fiction novel. Other details were that the contest closed October 15, 1953, and the novel had to be between 60,000 and 75,000 words. Anyone could enter, with the following caveats:

…except employees of the Galaxy Publishing Corp. and of Simon and Shuster, Inc., and their families; AND authors who are ineligible because of contractual obligations to their present publishers… which means, in effect, that contestants will NOT be competing with most of the established ‘big names’ of science fiction.

When you consider that cars could be purchased for about $2,000 in 1953, this was an enormous prize. And let’s face it: how many of us would still be happy to sell a novel in today’s market for $6,500?

Given that the contest ended long ago, I had to find out who won. The winner was Edson McCann, whose novel Preferred Risk was serialized in Galaxy in 1955 and later published by Simon and Schuster that same year. Congratulations, Edson!

Oh… except there never was an Edson McCann.

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Uncanny Magazine Issue 8 Now on Sale

Saturday, February 6th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Uncanny Magazine Issue 8-smallUncanny editors Lynn and Michael Thomas return from the Chicago TARDIS convention with an impassioned plea for increased accessibility, in their editorial in the January/February issue.

One of the reasons this convention is such a joy for us is Chicago TARDIS and its staff are very attentive to accessibility… We go to a ton of conventions for work, and, sadly, this isn’t always the case. Many excellent conventions are addressing accessibility at their events, and improving every year, which we absolutely applaud and appreciate. Others have resisted, even though it’s both the right thing to do and a US federal law thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. After some recent conventions had some major failures with their accessibility again, we and Mary Robinette Kowal — with help from many others — felt it was necessary to create an SF/F Convention Accessibility Pledge, similar to the John Scalzi pledge about not attending conventions without harassment policies. Hundreds have signed the pledge, and it has also been covered by io9 Most importantly, we’re seeing many convention staff members joining together to share information and work to make their conventions more accessible. That’s awesome, and frankly, the point of the whole thing. Fandom is for everyone, including people with disabilities.

The January/February issue contains all–new short fiction by Maria Dahvana Headley, Nghi Vo, Christopher Barzak, Brit Mandelo, and Rose Lemberg, classic fiction by Sarah Rees Brennan, nonfiction by Chris Kluwe, Max Gladstone, Isabel Schechter and L.M. Myles, poems by Kayla Whaley, Leslie J. Anderson, and Bryan Thao Worra, interviews with Maria Dahvana Headley and Christopher Barzak, and a cover by Priscilla H. Kim. All that plus two podcasts!

All of the content became available for purchase as an eBook (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) on January 1, 2016.

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Frank Kelly Freas Illustrates A. Bertram Chandler’s “The Far Traveller”

Thursday, February 4th, 2016 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Frank Kelly Freas The Far Traveller-small Frank Kelly Freas The Far Traveller b&w-small

Analog August 1976-smallI thought I’d go back to Frank Kelly Freas today, and post one that most folks won’t be familiar with, at least as it looks in the original. This was an interior illustration by Freas for the August 1976 issue of Analog, illustrating A. Bertram Chandler’s “The Far Traveller” (click on the images above for full-size versions). This was one of the tales in Chandler’s Commander Grimes series. The Analog cover, by John Schoenherr, is at right.

Since it was an interior, it was printed in black and white (which you can see above), but the original was in color. I assume Freas did that for the shading effects he’d get when it was reproduced in black and white, but perhaps one of my artist friends can chime in with their thoughts on that.

Art from the SF digests during that period holds a special place for me. This was the summer when, as a 12 year old, I discovered that SF digests were still being published. A few months earlier, I’d found my first SF digests (primarily F&SF from the 1950’s and early 1960’s) at a garage sale in a large barn. But in May 1976, I was spending the day at my dad’s office, and after lunch I went to the drugstore across the street.

There I found the June 1976 issues of both F&SF and Analog, and snapped them up in a heartbeat. After that, I bought them and the other couple of digests then being published religiously. I was fortunate enough many years ago to acquire the cover to that June 1976 Analog (which I’ll post at some point), but the cover for the June 1976 F&SF continues to elude me. But one day!

Weird Fiction Review #6 Now on Sale

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Weird Fiction Review 6-smallWeird Fiction Review #6 has a very clever cover. It’s an homage to Sgt. Pepper, of course, but it’s also more than that.

Click on the image at right for a bigger version to see what I mean. Jammed into that group photo are 69 “Giants of Weird Fiction.” How many can you recognize? Sure, you can pick out Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King. But can you spot Karl Edward Wagner? Forrest J. Ackerman? Salvadore Dali? Neil Gaiman? How about Gene Simmons?

Weird Fiction Review is an annual magazine edited by S.T. Joshi, and devoted to weird and supernatural fiction. This sixth issue contains original stories and essays by Laird Barron, Jonathan Thomas, Mollie Burleson, James Goho, Jason V Brock, and Michael Aronovitz; a lengthy interview with Clive Barker and a new interview with T.E.D. Klein; a 24-page full-color gallery of art by Christopher Conn Askew, an essay on Robert E. Howard-inspired art in the comics; a heavily illustrated essay on the artwork of L.B. Cole, and much more. It is priced at $35.

Here’s what Nick Ozment said about the last issue:

On the high $35 cover price: you can typically find the new(er) issues for substantially less than that. If you pre-order issue 5 on Amazon, they have it discounted to $26.60. And you can find copies of issue 4 for around $18. Not so for the first three issues: the cheapest issue 3 on Amazon will set you back $999.11!

Sounds like a sound investment to me.

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The 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Empire Ascendant-smallLet’s assume that you’re a busy guy or gal, and don’t have time to read every new book on the shelves, regardless of how damn tantalizing the cover is. Heck, you don’t even have time to read the reviews. And let’s also assume that you still want to stay on top of the best new books. How on earth are you supposed to manage that?

As usual, Locus magazine makes it easy — by compiling a massive recommended reading list drawn from the consensus vote of Locus editors, reviewers, and outside professionals. All told, they poll some three dozen industry pros to compile the mother of all reading lists, capturing the most acclaimed fantasy novels, SF novels, YA novels, collections, anthologies, Art books, nonfiction, and short fiction of the year. It’s an invaluable resource, especially if you’re trying to get up to speed in advance of Award season.

Here, for example, is the complete Locus Recommended Reading List of 2015 Fantasy Novels:

Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz 2014; DAW)
A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown; Doubleday UK)
Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
Nightwise, R.S. Belcher (Tor)
Beneath London, James P. Blaylock (Titan)
The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard (Roc; Gollancz)
Prodigies, Angelica Gorodischer (Small Beer)
Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS; Open Road)

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Witch Doctors and Mind-Reading Sleuths: Richard Powers’ Interior Art for 1950s Men’s Adventure Magazines

Monday, February 1st, 2016 | Posted by Doug Ellis

Richard Powers White Witch Doctor men 1957 01-small

In going through several hundred issues of men’s adventure magazines for this year’s upcoming Jerry Weist estate auction at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention, I came across the interior illo above by Richard Powers. It’s from the January 1957 issue of Men.

I was actually surprised how many great artists appeared in the issues of Men that I went through, including Bama, Saunders, De Soto, Belarski and many, many more. Some really great art in there!

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Apex Magazine #80 Now on Sale

Monday, February 1st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Apex Magazine Issue 80-smallIn his editorial this month, Jason Sizemore gives us the details on the unusually-packed January issue.

You’ll note that the amount of content in this month’s Apex Magazine is… well, astounding: six original works (including a novelette by Ursula Vernon), seven poems, two reprints, and a nonfiction article. Much of this additional content was provided as reward goals for our successful subscription drive held in mid to late November. Thank you for helping us reach our goal!

The crown jewel of issue 80 is the novelette “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon. For fans of her Nebula Award-winning story “Jackalope Wives” take note — “The Tomato Thief” is set in the same universe and is an indirect sequel. Also in this issue, we have a second original story by Ursula titled “Razorback” that will remind our readers of her excellent “Pocosin” from issue 68.

Lettie Prell, one of my favorite writers, makes a triumphant return to our pages with the disconcerting “The Open-Hearted.” Also returning is Nigerian author Chikodili Emelumadu with “Soursop.” We welcome newcomers Jennifer Hykes (“Bones of the World”) and Carrie Cuinn (“That Lucky Old Sun”) to the pages of Apex.

Here’s the complete TOC.

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The Late January Fantasy Magazine Rack

Sunday, January 31st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Beneath-Ceaseless-Skies-190-rack Beneath-Ceaseless-Skies-191-rack Fantasy-and-Science-Fiction-January-February-2016-rack Lightspeed-January-2016-rack
giganotosaurus-logo-rack2 GrimDark-Magazine-6-rack Fantasy-Scroll-Magazine-Issue-10-rack Nightmare-Magazine-January-2016-rack

Plenty of great new fiction this month, including two issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a big double issue of F&SF, the sixth issue of Grimdark, the tenth issue of Fantasy Scroll Magazine, and lots more. In magazine news the last two weeks, we learned that the tireless Neil Clarke has taken the editorial reins at SFWA Bulletin, and that Tor.com is offering their new novellas in some attractive bargain bundles. And for retro-fiction fans, Rich Horton took a look at the March 1960 issue of Amazing Science Fiction Stories, with stories by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Silverberg, and Robert Bloch.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our January Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines here for every budget, from completely free to $12.95/issue. If you find something intriguing, I hope you’ll consider taking a chance on a subscription. I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

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January 2015 Nightmare Magazine Now on Sale

Saturday, January 30th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Nightmare Magazine January 2016-smallThe January issue of the online magazine Nightmare contains original short stories from Sam J. Miller and Nisi Shawl, and reprints from Richard Bowes and Tia V. Travis.

Original Stories

Angel, Monster, Man” by Sam J. Miller
Tom wasn’t fiction. He was not a lie. He was a higher truth, something we invented to encapsulate a reality too horrific to communicate to anyone outside our plague-devastated circle. Maybe myth, but definitely not fiction. Myth helps us make sense of facts too messy to comprehend, and that’s what Tom Minniq was supposed to be. A fable to ponder, and then forget. We birthed Tom at one of Derrick’s Sunday coffee kvetches.

Vulcanization” by Nisi Shawl
Another black. A mere illusion, Leopold knew, but he flinched out of the half-naked nigger’s path anyway. Of course Marie Henriette noticed when he did so. The quick little taps of the queen’s high-heeled slippers echoed faster off the polished floor as she hastened to draw even with him. “My dearest—Sire—” Leopold stopped, forcing his entire retinue to stop with him. “What do you wish, my wife?”

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