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Reviews of Old Science Fiction Magazines: F&SF 1987/05: Not the best issue of a magazine I've ever read. There's a whole lot of stories in here and none of them are great. The cover story is James Morrow's "Spelling God with the Wrong Blocks", which is a James Morrow story. Morrow's stories appeal to me on an intellectual level but it's kind of like the kind of conceptual art where once you've read a description of the art there's no need to see the actual art. Towing Jehovah was excellent but it can stand in for all his stuff as far as I'm concerned. This story was the equivalent of a really snarky weblog entry.

None of the other stories left an impression on me, except for "The Extra", an SF horror story by Michael Shea. "The Extra" doesn't make sense in the way that horror stories don't make sense, and I started out really wanting to dislike it because of its heavy use of future-jive (no kidding!), but it had a lot of action and split-second decision making and you know what, the real reason I liked it was it was like Smash TV. Not a bad theme for a story. Also worth mentioning is Brad Strickland's "Oh Tin Man, Tin Man, There's No Place Like Home", which is a bit similar to Tim Pratt's Hugo-winning Impossible Dreams. Felix C. Gotschalk's "Menage a Super-Trois" started out nicely disturbing but then didn't have a plot.

In nonfiction, Isaac Asimov rambles on for a while--did you know he's self-deprecating about his own huge ego? The cover promises "Harlan Ellison on Star Trek", which portends a bloodbath, but Ellison keeps it down to a slow, controlled stream of blood that you couldn't even wash dishes with. Interesting fact: Ellison disliked The Wrath of Khan but considered The Search For Spock "a decent piece of work". (My own heretical Star Trek movie opinion is that The Motion Picture would be really good if you were to cut it down to about 105 minutes.)

Sighted in book reviews: A Hidden Place, Robert Charles Wilson's first novel, which I'd never heard of; and The Handmaid's Tale.


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