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I picked up a few old copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction for free this past fall, and should be posting a couple of reviews from them at intervals. Reading this issue, April 1987, meant a number of firsts for me – namely, my first time actually reading F&SF, my first time reading any non-electronic pro genre magazine, and my first time reading several big-name authors (…pretty much everyone in this issue, really). Embarrassing.

Also, check out this most excellent cover (an illustration for Wayne Wightman’s “Cage 37,” and, since Kakaner asked, honorary BBCF):

Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1987Aww yeah. Alienated youth clad in flabby sweats squint at you from the thick of the ’80’s.

Anyway, reviews! Two to start.

—–

Stephen Sondheim once dismissed his lyrical work for West Side Story as being “wet,” which has stuck with me as being a useful descriptor for the kind of self-seriousness generally accompanied by moistened eyes being cast to the horizon. (I love WSS anyway, by the way.) Lucius Shepard‘s prose in “The Glassblower’s Dragon” struck me as being very, very wet. Blah blah blah disaffected artist and club girl find Moment of Solace in each other’s company. Cue an outpouring of faintly patronizing affection on the part of the artist, a general pity party, and some really soppy declamations:

“And loss was probable, for love is an illusion with the fragility of glass and light, whose magic must constantly be renewed. But for the moment they did not allow themselves to think of these things. They were content to stare after the dragon, after the sole truth in their lives that no lie could disparage.”

Buh.

—–

George Zebrowski‘s “Behind the Night” dwells on “a sterile, post-plague United States and a 119-year-old president who is implementing a foreign policy based on treason” (stealing F&SF’s blurb there). It goes for elegiac, but doesn’t really get beyond fervent, slightly incoherent sentimentality, e.g.

“The sonata of survival is unaffected by our views of it; we have yet to learn how to change more than a few notes without creating dissonances. Life requires the deterioration of the body, the dashing of hopes, the death of love, to produce a head full of fading thoughts.”

and

“‘A beautiful idea,’ I said, moved by the depth of her feelings. And I realized that in a sense I had become the father of a new country.”

Oh Mr. President, what a clever duck you are.

Also, this one had yet more bubblings-up of creepish paternalistic tenderness. Brrr.

– E

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gone-with-the-wind-tara-cake-book-margaret-mitchell-partial

View Recipe: Gone With the Wind Tara Cake

I envisioned nothing less than a grand, massive tiered cake for Margaret Mitchell‘s sweeping 1936 romantic epic, Gone With the Wind.  This famous and controversial novel has all the good bits– war, betrayal, unrequited love, mis-timed requited love– and a spoiled southern belle forced to experience the worst of humanity who then seizes her life back though hard work, womanly charms, and sheer force of will. This recipe is meant to capture the full range of history, time and emotion in the novel, as well as convey an atmosphere of grandness throughout.

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View Recipe

Featured here is a gnarly wrought-chocolate cheesecake to commemorate Alan Moore’s vengeful vigilante, Rorschach. Pardon the craftsmanship– Rorschach blots are definitely supposed to be more symmetrical, but with only a wooden spoon and various other home tools, this was the best I could manage.

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So when it comes to book covers, there’s overly literal, and then there’s this kind of thing, courtesy the mass-market paperback cover of Robert Heinlein’s I Will Fear No Evil:

Robert Heinlein - Fear No Evil

Allegorical representation of Something Profound About America, With Purple Pixie Dust? Thinly veiled excuse for female nudity? Who knows?

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Bad Book Covers Friday Archive
BBCF: The Technic Civilization Saga
BBCF: Relationships II
BBCF: The Saga of Recluce
BBCF: Moonsinger’s Friends
BBCF: The Alphabet Mysteries

So this week’s BBCF stars are tasteless enough that I’m putting them both under a cut. Very much borderline NSFW/NSFpeaceofmind/Ican’tbelievethisactuallyexistsandwasapproved.
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[Sorry for the lateness – apparently I specialize in redefining “Friday.”]

Oh small presses, sometimes (frequently) I just don’t know what you were thinking. So far I’ve tried to stay away from small-small-press covers because they do what they do under so many constraints, but sometimes – yeah, I just really don’t know what they were thinking. According to the publisher, this is “a collection of seven stories about relationships, loving and passionate, thought-provoking and inspiring. Some verge into the familiar Anthony territory of fantasy and science fiction, where others focus on the eroticism of contemporary life, proving that love has many facets.”

Piers Anthony - Relationships II

Apparently one of love’s facets is reenactment of bondage scenarios with Parcheesi gamepieces after a few hits of acid…?

Go to:
Bad Book Covers Friday Archive
BBCF: Birth of the Firebringer
BBCF: The Saga of Recluce
BBCF: Moonsinger’s Friends
BBCF: The Alphabet Mysteries

Foreign-language editions of fantasy novels tend to be particularly fertile grounds for weird book covers. And man, I love many a Scandinavian illustrator, but their covers also tend to be the loopiest among European editions that I’ve seen. Here’s the Danish paperback cover of Meredith Ann Pierce’s Birth of the Firebringer (which is the first book in a childhood-favorite trilogy, so this is another case in which I can vouch for the cover being accurate in its details, yet not… shall we say, entirely representative of the book as a whole):

Meredith Ann Pierce - Birth of the Firebringer, second Danish edition

50% cute, 50% acid-trip unhinged. I don’t think I want to be friends with these unicorns – they look like they’d shake me down for my lunch money, then threaten to cut me if I told.

Yet at the same time, I kind of want a t-shirt with them on it.

Go to:
Bad Book Covers Friday Archive
BBCF: The Saga of Recluce
BBCF: Moonsinger’s Friends
BBCF: The Alphabet Mysteries
BBCF: Diamond Star

Author: Joe Hill

Date: 2.22.10

Book: Horns

Venue: Porter Square Books

Reviewer: Kakaner

Joe Hill Porter Square Signing Locke and Key Horns Heart Shaped Box reading

Porter Square Books is a quaint bookstore tucked away in Porter Square, Cambridge and features a popular fair-trade cafe. We arrived early for front row seats, and discovered while waiting that we had been seated in the… SAT prep and pregnancy help section. Huh?

Anyway, enter Joe Hill, tall and lanky, and a spitting image of his father. He exuded a very distinct “accomplished nerd” appeal, as in awkward yet confident. I have to say I was a little taken aback by his appearance because the only photo I had seen of him was this:

Which incidentally kind of coincides with the mental image I have of Judas Coyne from Heart-Shaped Box– jacket, rock, auto-enthusiast. Oh author portraits. How you mislead us so!

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Apologies for actually missing Friday – it’s been a long week. To make up for it, for this week’s Bad Book Cover Friday, I’m covering (har [?]) a series that Kakaner has been begging me to do pretty much since the beginning – L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s The Saga of Recluce.

These covers actually work the best without much commentary, so prepare for some scrolling –

L. E. Modesitt - Mage-Guard of Hamor

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Not gonna lie, this one makes me smile at the same time that it makes me wince. Some things are so awesomely dated that you can’t help but love them.

Moonsinger's Friends - In Honor of Andre Norton, ed. Susan Schwartz

Rainbows. Stumpy-necked hippocampi. Mermaids riding stumpy-necked hippocampi while double rainbows explode from their backs. What could be better, or worse, or more likely to make you want to ingest something involving funfetti? Something to consider the next time you’re surveying (sadly rainbow-free) covers at the bookstore.

Go to:
Bad Book Covers Friday Archive
BBCF: The Alphabet Mysteries
BBCF: Diamond Star
BBCF: The God Engines
BBCF: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 16

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