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Reviews of Old Science Fiction Magazines: F&SF 1993/05: Took me a long, long time to finish this magazine because I left it in a bag I seldom use. I think this may have been the first one of the big pile I started reading. Okay, so what do we have here. John Morressey's "Working Stiffs" puts fantastic humanoids into a modern-day scenario and milks the scenario for laughs, but unlike most such stories it doesn't focus on a single species. It's worth reading.

I absolutely loved Joyce K. Jensen's "Janell Johannson's First Exhibit", but after completing the story I discovered that a large part of my love was based on a misreading. I thought Jensen had plied some writer-fu at the beginning of the story that paid off spectacularly when she executed a fantasy twist on it later on, but it turns out the fantastic element was in the story from the beginning. Still a great story.

Barry Malzberg's "Something from the Seventies" is funny but today it would just be a rant on Malzberg's weblog. I remember Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Sinner-Saints" being really well-done but not having any fantastic element; maybe it's alt-history. Yeah, that's right, it's alt-history about Lillian Helman. Michael Coney's "Die, Lorelei" had a lot of worldbuilding elements I liked, including ridiculous adaptations that let aquatic animals live on land, but as inevitably happens in my F&SF rejection letters, the story didn't grab me.

In books, John Kessel reviews Bruce Sterling's seminal The Hacker Crackdown. I'm going to break my usual talk-about-what-I-liked rule and totally slam the comics in this issue. They're terrible. I realize that your publication options are severely limited if The New Yorker rejects your one-panel cartoon with pithy caption, but just do another cartoon. I'd like to also advise making sure your cartoons have some connection with fantasy and/or science fiction, but that doesn't seem to help. I have seen one really good cartoon in these old magazines, and I was going to link to Sumana's discussion of it as a palate-cleanser, but I can't find that discussion. So, wear my crankiness on your palate all day!

Now, off to writing group, where I'll be told that Princess Toadstool slash fiction has no place in modern SF. Update, later: In a surprise twist, my slashfic was deemed "brilliant." Now I just have to find an editor who agrees.


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