Semiprozine – All the Semiprozines (almost) [Updated]

Here are all the semiprozines I looked at minus the stuff that I left out (mainly podcasts) and stuff that changed eligibility etc. I’ve updated were needed (I hope).

A big thanks to the Clarke’s World Semiprozine Directory http://semiprozine.org/semiprozine-directory/

Lots of good stuff to look at and I don’t think there is any one of them that didn’t have something that was worth reading. The amount I’ve written on each isn’t an indication of quality but rather time, effort and how I was feeling on the day 🙂

I remain deeply impressed by the effort and commitment of semiprozine editors/staff. It is their efforts that keeps the genre alive and exciting.

[Updated to remove Apex which is now pro]

Continue reading “Semiprozine – All the Semiprozines (almost) [Updated]”

Semiprozine: T, U (V,W,X,Y,Z)

tv415kansiCome on people, seriously – yes I know X and Z are low frequency initial letters in English but this is SF people! Nobody has a semiprozine starting with Z? Z the most science fictional letter of the alphabet?

Last round up! And with nary a day to spare before February arrives in all its cruelty.

 

Tähtivaeltaja tahtivaeltaja.com no, no those aren’t pretentious fantasy or heavy-metal umlauts but genuine Finish ones. My Soumi linguistic skills are non-existent but if you browse their site (which include online editions of the zine as well as a blog) and use Google Chrome, you can get an OK English translation e.g. Chrome served up this article on Nnedi Okorafor with only a few translation quirks:

For many, Africa represents an acacia tree, standing alone in the middle of the savanna sunset. View adorns tens or even hundreds of book covers. It seeks to stir up dormant potential reader to race in memory images of the black continent. Which is of course nonsense, since it is a mere brainwashing illusion created by the cynical market mechanism. One picture can not possibly speak of an entire continent at the mouth.

Nnedi Okoraforin (p. 1974), the production brings the African acacia tree closer to the reader. Or at least part of it, because it would be absurd to assume one writer about a compressive hundreds and thousands of tribes in one mold. Okoraforin the natural environment is in West Africa located in Nigeria, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the red maanteineen, sadekausineen and lively market.

– See more at: http://tahtivaeltaja.com/t%C3%A4htivaeltaja-415/nnedi-okorafor-artikkeli#sthash.7zouhzxw.dpuf

Great cover art also.

Uncanny http://uncannymagazine.com/ Uncanny is the one I’ve been ending up at independently of this survey of semipros. Really good mix of stories and articles. I shant say more for fear of gushing.

Utah Geek http://utahgeekmagazine.com/about-ugeek/ A very location specific ‘zine – a place for geeks in Utah. Lots of movie reviews not actually all about geeks in Utah (although that sounds like a good premise for a TV series) but rather serving SF/F news to Utah fandom.

Unlikely Story http://www.unlikely-story.com/ weird fiction and fiction using the conventions of non-fiction, presented as pseudo-scholarship in a manner both fun and whimsical. Of all the semipros I have looked at, Unlikely Story has the most fun submission guidelines.

Unlikely Story publishes three themed issues a year: The Journal of Unlikely EntomologyThe Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, and The Journal of Whatever Tickles Our Fancy This Year. We reserve the right to put out an indeterminate number of further sub-themed mini-issues on an irregular basis, or not, depending on how we feel. See below for specific details regarding each issue.

And that’s your lot.

Semiprozines, the hardworking gardeners of SF/F talent. We salute you all!

 

 

Review:A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Novel: Becky Chambers 2014/2015 http://www.amazon.com/Long-Way-Small-Angry-Planet-ebook/dp/B00TTM2B84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

I should note firstly, that I don’t know what the eligibility of this novel is. Amazon has it listed as a CreateSpace paperback as 2014 and as a Kindle Hodder & Stoughton edition as 2015. So semi-self published and then picked up by a major publisher.

It is a flawless book in the sense that mashed potato is flawless. There isn’t anything wrong with it. I didn’t have any issue finishing the book but I didn’t particularly like it. It has a sitcom/soap-opera feel about it. Each chapter tends to have an episode-of-the-week feel about it and by the end of the chapter a crew member of the spaceship has grown a bit as a person etc. The characters are likable but I feel a bit like they are likable in the same way Larry Correia’s supporting characters are likeable – it is all ain’t-folk-great sort of thing. The only genuinely bad people for most of the story are, oddly, people’s dads.

Mashed potato needs gravy or maybe sausages or something. With more jokes this could have been a really funny novel, with more mystery this could have been a more intriguing novel, with more action a really exciting one. Instead I feel that it did an excellent job of providing the background and framework for a spaceship and crew but forgot to put something in the foreground.

Now I feel like I’m being mean and I don’t intend to be. There are many, many good and effective things about this novel. The alien societies are not just different kinds of humans and the future society is neither utopian nor dystopian. The new kinds of social prejudice that characters have to face (particularly around AIs and cloning) felt a bit forced but added to the feeling of verisimilitude around an evolving multispecies society.

EPH & the GOP in the USA

So this post arose out of comments I made here.

Imagine if the US primary season and Presidential election was replaced by the Hugo voting process.

Everybody would get to nominate three candidates that they liked. The total number of nominations would be counted and the top three nominees would become the three finalists. There would be then a general vote in which people picked one of the three finalists (or No Award if they didn’t like the finalists).

Of course in this fantasy world elections would be very different but by the power of magic this change occurs overnight so that the US still has Democrats and Republicans and exactly the same pool of nominees as there are currently (OK maybe not Santorum and Gilmore because they are polling really low and Fiorina as well because 9 is an easier number to work with).

Continue reading “EPH & the GOP in the USA”

John C Wright’s Windrose of Political Heresy

JCWWindrose

I am sucker for these kinds of mental schemas in which people try and sort out their perspective on ideas into dimensions. When judged against how ideological groupings occur in reality they tend to breakdown in the face of the inherent contradictions of stuff that people end up believing but that doesn’t mean these schemas are without merit. They help show how a given person is charting the relationship between ideas and also helps clarify how they see particular ideologies.

In this particular case our occasional blog muse, author and advocate of political ideas way, way, way to the right of where I stand, John C Wright has explained his schema in a couple of places. Here on his regular blog and here in his ‘Every Joe’ column from 2014. I was going to write more about it (in particular whether his major axes work conceptually) but I ended up spending all my time redrawing the diagram he has so it looked nice. There you go, I’d rather draw a nice chart of ideas I disagree with than actual explain my disagreement! 🙂

 

 

Review: Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Novel 2015 http://www.amazon.com/Years-Eight-Months-Twenty-Eight-Nights/dp/081299891X

Haroun and the Sea of Stories was a children’s book that Salman Rushdie wrote during the years in which he was in hiding from the death-sentence-by-fatwa issued by Iran’s leading cleric. Rushdie is no stranger to fantastic elements in his books which often have strong magical-realism aspects to them but with Haroun Rushdie’s approach to fantasy was clearer. Rather than using fantasy as allegory, Rushdie uses fantastic elements as satire. By this I don’t mean in the style of Terry Pratchett (although I’d love to read an essay comparing the two writers) but in a Swiftian sense. So when Rushdie ventures more overtly into the fantastic in Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights he echoes a literary tradition based on Gulliver’s Travels rather than say C.S.Lewis on the one hand or J.R.R. Tolkien on the other or even a closer contemporary such as Angela Carter.
Rushdie’s book tells the story of the impact of demonic djinn intervening in our world and the ensuing conflict as human descendants of the medieval Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd and djinn princess defend our world from the chaotic excesses.
At times there are strict allegorical mappings of events from Rushdie’s fantasy onto ours (for example in an account of the Talbian takeover of Afghanistan) at other times it is broad themes (the on-going debate between the humanist/rationalist tradition in Islamic philosophy of Ibn Rushd and the dogmatic/theocratic tradition of AL-Ghazli which is then mirrored in the physical struggle between their two djinn). At other times it is simply just the fantastic playing out in our world.
The novel works best when it plays to Rushdie’s strengths, building up character histories for example but it suffers from being overlong. Taken as passages there are many delightful pieces of writing but I often felt battered by the book’s pace. Structurally this is all to a purpose, as Rushdie attempts to discuss our world and current world events as a kind of invasion of the irrational and the anti-human while, at the same time, showing a closely related aspect of that irrationality as being a positive force of creativity and richness in society. Hence a war of djinn, some allied to humanity and some intent on our annihilation.
The mark of good literature is less the experience you have when you read the book and more the experience you have after you have finished. To that extent Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights has steadily improved in my estimation since finishing it. Indeed I delayed writing a review as I found my perspective on the book kept shifting. Having said that there were definite moments 2/3rds of the way through when I felt like I just wanted the book to be done and that I wasn’t appreciating its qualities. So as a word of warning, while it may look superficially like a good crossover novel for a reader of fantasy to dip into magical-realism, I really wouldn’t recommend this as a good introduction to Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses is a better start and things have moved on sufficiently that it can be read as intended rather than as the center of controversy).