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[Comments] (1) Reviews of Old Science Fiction Magazines: F&SF 12/1986: Fun cover, huh? That's for John Morressy's enjoyable fantasy-versus-science-fiction story "Spirits from the Vasty Deep".

I'm reading more of these magazines because all the books are packed up for the move. This was a really good issue. The best story here was "A Stage of Memory" by David Brin and his brother Daniel. Kenneth W. Ledbetter's "Outpost on Europa" has no big literary merit but is a great adventure with talking dolphins. Ron Goulart's "Glory" was a Hollywood vampire story that was fun but didn't really feel fresh (it's fairly similar to "A Deskful of Girls", a F&SF story from 1959 I reviewed last month). I didn't really enjoy Pamela Sargent's "The Soul's Shadow" but I did admire how it read like a D.J. Hall painting come to life.

In the book review column, Algis Burdys disses Walter Jon Williams's first novel, which I found a little distressing because I've got a later novel by him packed in my boxes of still-unread books.

Harlan Ellison's film column provides me with even more endless amusement than usual. His schtick is that in this column he's going to get right to the point, which leads to even more grandiose digressions and outrageously-stated opinions than an average Harlan Ellison F&SF film review column.

Ellison apparently hates James Cameron and must grudgingly admit that Aliens is "a rather good action-adventure". He loves Big Trouble in Little China as a "cheerfully blathering live-action cartoon that will give you release from the real pressures of your basically dreary lives." (He goes on for a full column of print in this vein.) He loves the 1937 Frank Capra film Lost Horizon, which had recently been restored and was making a tour.

He really loves The Great Mouse Detective, "the first new Disney animated to recapture the incomparable wonders of Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and The Three Caballeros." I'm neither a huge Disney animation fan--the only one I really like is Pinocchio--nor an expert, but The Three Caballeros? The geography lesson? The movie whose plot summary is "It is Donald Duck's birthday. He recieves three presents."? Harlan Ellison, these random-ass opinions are why I love your twenty-year-old film review columns.

Anyway, I vaguely remember seeing The Great Mouse Detective when I was a kid, and it was definitely fun. But Three Caballeros fun? I dunno.

Ellison is really pissed off at the Geraldo Rivera TV special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults, referring to it as "that 2-hour con job" and calling Geraldo "increasingly lacertilian". Finally he gets to what is supposedly the point of the column, heaping praise on Labyrinth and regretful complaints on a Ridley Scott film called Legend which I'd never heard of. It's a movie that pits Tom Cruise against Tim Curry (look at their names! They're almost the same!), with Robert Picardo in a supporting role. And according to IMDB comments, a much better director's cut was released in 2002, so it's definitely worth a look.

And with that I close the book, or magazine, on this issue of F&SF. Enjoy the photo gallery, which also includes pix from the recently reviewed Analog. Don't miss the Hitchhiker's Guide ad, featuring a non-digital watch that's nonetheless a pretty neat idea.

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Posted by Zack at Sun Nov 15 2009 21:22

I haven't read Walter Jon Williams' first novel, but I have read some of his later stuff (Metropolitan and City on Fire) and they were good, FWIW.

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