Fanzines emerged out of the 1930s science-fiction fan culture, eventually propagating among such active fandoms as music, role-playing games, and comi...moreFanzines emerged out of the 1930s science-fiction fan culture, eventually propagating among such active fandoms as music, role-playing games, and comics. Zines played a pivotal role in the development of new talent often publishing the best and brightest before they were well-known: Ray Bradbury, Greil Marcus, Robert Crumb, and Bruce Sterling, among others. The advent of the Internet ushered in the webzine, seemingly dooming the traditional zine, but experimental, postmodern science-fiction fanzines like Electric Velocipede and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet keep the print form alive and pertinent. The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet reprints the finest fiction, essays, poetry, and other oddities from the zine's first decade.
The first two pieces, written separately by co-editors Kelly Link – "Travels With the Snow Queen," a nonlinear tale of forbidden love – and Gavin J. Grant – his insightful nonfiction exploration "Scotch: An Essay Into a Drink" – quickly establish the tenor both in quality and content for this stunning anthology. Excellent and unconventional pieces abound: Margaret Muirhead's profound Swiftian parody "An Open Letter Concerning Sponsorship"; Sarah Monette's tortured romance "Three Letters From the Queen of Elfland"; Jan Lars Jensen's frightening study of the dangers of television nostalgia, "Happier Days"; Gwenda Bond's twisted Dear Abby columns, "Dear Aunt Gwenda"; and David J. Schwartz's comical letter "The Icthyomancer Writes His Friends With an Account of the Yeti's Birthday Party," to name a few. Interspersed within the stories, the editors sprinkle trivial tidbits about literature, movies, music, and other strangeness.
The compositions appear in order of original publication, creating an odd, uneven flow to the book. Later in the collection, as the editing duo became more comfortable with their craft and their writers, the contributions get stronger. Showcasing a selection of the top new and exciting writers working today, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet presents a wondrous playground for lovers of experimental and avant-garde literature. If this is the 21st century zine, the form can be taken off the endangered list.
From the 1940s through the early 1980s, the anthology of original short stories served as the backbone of the science-fiction field, reaching its zeni...moreFrom the 1940s through the early 1980s, the anthology of original short stories served as the backbone of the science-fiction field, reaching its zenith in the 1970s with original anthology series such as Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions, Terry Carr's Universe, and Robert Silverberg's New Dimensions. Fresh ideas and new writers often emerged from these books, which were sold in bookstores and therefore able to reach mass audiences. Recently several new series – Polyphony, Adventure, and Leviathan to name a few – have premiered to revive the formerly moribund format. With Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction From the Cutting Edge, acclaimed editor Lou Anders joins the fray.
Behind the dazzling John Picacio cover, Fast Forward opens strongly with the Hugo-winning Robert Charles Wilson's "YFL-500," a tale of futuristic art and the dreams that fuel it. Several stories throughout equal the quality of the first. In "Aristotle OS," Tony Ballantyne presents an insightful glimpse into a world-changing operating system. Elizabeth Bear pens a unique take on alien invasion and childhood autoerotic asphyxiation with "The Something-Dreaming Game." "Jesus Christ, Reanimator" by Ken MacLeod, possibly the best short-story title of the decade, posits the inherent conflicts in the Second Coming.
In his introduction, Anders states that his goal is to emulate previous groundbreaking science-fiction-anthology series, most notably Fredrick Pohl's Star SF (six volumes from 1953 to 1959) and Damon Knight's Orbit (21 volumes, 1966-1980). If successive volumes equal the quality of this excellent debut, Fast Forward will go a long way in achieving Anders' hope and might even inspire a new generation.
Behind a suitable mechanoid science fictiony cover, Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, edited by Lou Anders, collects essays from...moreBehind a suitable mechanoid science fictiony cover, Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, edited by Lou Anders, collects essays from leading critics and writers. Michael Moorcock, Robert Silverberg, Jonathan Lethem, Robert J. Saywer, Michael Swanwick, David Brin, John Clute, James Gunn, Michael Resnick, and others discuss a variety of topics from Leigh Brackett to Star Wars, Harry Potter to Star Trek, and all points in between.
The quality of the essays varies greatly. Some meander without getting to any point. From several of the contributors, I've read superior essays elsewhere. Highlights include the two bracketing essays from Michael Swanwick, Brin on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, Moorcock's remembrance of Leigh Brackett, Mike Resnick on Burroughs, a history Australian sf by McMullen, and Jonathan Lethem's thoughts on science fiction.
Most of the essays in this volume are reprints and often feel dated. The copyright dates range from 1984 to 2004. This could have easily been fixed by placing the copyright information with the essays themselves. To make matters worse, the reader is not made aware that the essays are reprints until they see the permissions listing at the end of the book.
This book is exactly what the title suggests with contributions from Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, China Miéville, Jeffrey Ford, Kage Bak...moreThis book is exactly what the title suggests with contributions from Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, China Miéville, Jeffrey Ford, Kage Baker and many others. Where else could you read about post-traumatic placebosis, female hyper-orgasmic epilepsy, or vestigial elongation of the caudal vertebrae?(less)
In the 1950s and 1960s, the distinctions between literary and fantasy fiction lacked rigid outlines. Nothing typified this trend more than editor Judi...moreIn the 1950s and 1960s, the distinctions between literary and fantasy fiction lacked rigid outlines. Nothing typified this trend more than editor Judith Merrill's 12 volumes of The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, published from 1956 to 1968. Within her anthologies, such authors as John Graves, William S. Burroughs, Donald Barthelme, and Gunther Grass routinely appeared alongside more readily identifiable genre writers. Since the mid-Eighties, "best of" fantasy publications have focused on genre writers, all but ignoring stories that are marketed outside the field. Best American Fantasy replicates Merrill's success by combing nontraditional genre haunts and delving into mainstream literary and online magazines.
Editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer offer a wide range of tales, most of which do not appear in other "best of" collections, from publications as different as Alaska Quarterly Review, Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Georgia Review, Harrington Gay Men's Literary Quarterly, McSweeney's, New England Review, The New Yorker, Oxford American, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story. The VanderMeers chose their selections wisely.
Highlights include Sumanth Prabhaker's "A Hard Truth About Waste Management," Chris Adrian's "A Better Angel," Meghan McCarron's "The Flying Woman," Gina Ochsner's "Song of the Selkie," Tyler Smith's "A Troop [sic] of Baboons," E.M. Schorb's "An Experiment in Governance," Brian Evenson's "An Accounting," and Daniel Alarcón's "Abraham Lincoln Has Been Shot." Two pieces stand out: Nik Houser's "First Kisses From Beyond the Grave," a refreshingly original tale of a high school for zombies complete with teen angst and desires, and Kelly Link's clever "Origin Story" about two people with powers, super and not so much, and their lifelong love affair. A majority of the stories rotate around the loss of control, especially by persons with immense inner strength. Given the state of American politics since 9/11, this is not a surprising theme.
In Best American Fantasy, the VanderMeers accomplished their stated goal. They have successfully produced an excellent collection of the fantastical, completely disregarding the arbitrary distinctions of genre and, in the process, potentially reinvigorating American fantasy.