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[Comments] (6) Science Fiction Magazine Reviews: F&SF 04/2002: Read while subwaying to and from Brooklyn. This was a really great issue, excepting one well-written horror story that I didn't like because I don't really like horror. "Just Another Cowboy" by Esther N. Friesner had a really funny tall-tale voice, and then the voice started getting a little old and my mind started wandering and coming up with little riffs, and then one of the riffs I'd thought of actually happened in the story. I love it when a plan comes together.

Also funny were "Torah! Torah! Torah!" by Thomas M. Disch, sometime collaborator with John Sladek, and Alison Bowman's "The Copywriter", which is pretty much The Ballad of Michigan J. (Honestly I think TBoMJ has a more satisfying resolution, though it's totally unsellable.)

Not funny but very good was Charles Coleman Finlay's "The Political Officer", which as you can tell from the title tackles an organizational structure seen not often enough in SF. Intriguingly, Finlay published a story called "Fading Quayle, Dancing Quayle" in an anthology about zombies, making it possible that he's written a cross between "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia", Zombies: The Movie, and (dare we hope?) Pamela Sergeant's Nebula-winning "Danny Goes To Mars".

Movie column is an appreciation of Donnie Darko, which I haven't seen. Book column mentions two excellent stories I've read and recommend to you: Ted Chiang's "Seventy-Two Letters" and Greg Egan's "Oracle". Both stories about computer science, actually.


Posted by Brendan at Sun May 25 2008 17:59

I was wondering when one of the issues I remembered would come up. "The Political Officer" made a huge impression on me; I picked up Wild Things years later on the strength of it and was not disappointed. Also, the story I've been trying to write for a year is about half "The Political Officer" and half "Vanilla."

Posted by Leonard at Sun May 25 2008 18:16

Is "Fading Quayle" all I hoped it would be? There is something it is like for inquiring minds to be wanting to know!

Posted by Brendan at Sun May 25 2008 21:44

Unfortunately I didn't bring it with me to Oregon and I don't remember it, but I can try to pick it up next time I'm back in Kentucky.

Posted by anonymous at Thu May 29 2008 06:00

i don't UNDERSTAND the ballad of michigan J.

Posted by Leonard at Thu May 29 2008 09:47

Thus the unsellability.

The WB used to do advertising interstitial cartoons where Michigan J. Frog would shill for a show's sponsors (inc. Snickers), in addition to having regular commercials for those sponsors. TBoMJ starts with a couple space aliens noticing Michigan's uncanny salesmanship abilities and coercing him into producing propaganda to accustom mankind to the upcoming invasion of Earth. Michigan's bosses at the TV studio think this is great because (due to very flawed math) an invasion will shrink the human population and thus increase the WB's ratings. So he has to take matters into his own hands. That's the ballad of Michigan J.

Posted by Leonard at Thu May 29 2008 09:50

Oh, they also think it's great because Michigan does such a good job of selling it, even when he's just telling them about it.

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