Matthew Hughes's "Mastermindless" and other ways to enhance your love-of-F&SF-life

Welcome Matthew Hughes to SF Site, everyone, then grab the March 2004 F&SF and enjoy the best tale in it this month, full of goofy grin inducing wit and just the right amount of unpretentious smartness to make it go down smooth as a chuckling sand burr. As Hughes puts it, "The stories are sort of 'Sherlock Holmes gets mugged by Jack Vance with P.G. Wodehouse driving the getaway car.'" Not nearly enough smart dark comedy like this in the genre.

I'll make just one minor amendment to Matthew's blogsite, by pointing out that fandom has always been "full of young (i.e., thirty and under) novel readers who simply do not know that venerable sf pulp mags like F&SF, Asimov's and Analog are still publishing." I don't expect much of fandom, and it doesn't bother me much that after seeing I, Robot this summer, most of them will, at best, think of Asimov as "that forerunner to that scientist, whashisname, that fella on that space trek show that designed that android thingy, wasn't it called Megabyte or something?" Never mind how many could pick the name Philip K. Dick out of a lineup of the last decade's (extremely) popular skiffy movies. I'll grant Matthew's point that the grandmasters are growing off the populist cinematic vine quicker than mutant pumpkin-sized red peppers (saw some of these in a Hyvee the other day, talk about oddly enough), but how different is that from stuff like 2001, Minority Report, and Solaris? Not to mention the larger mainstream cadre of school-taught writers who rocket to still greater fame with A Room with a View, The Great Gatsby, Howard's End, and Shakespeare in Love?

This month's F&SF stirred a bit of scum up from the mudbucket of this reader's head tank:

- Do we need a column by Charles de Lint called "Books To Look For" stacked aside a secondary column by Elizabeth Hand called "Books" where both are, whatever their picks, the same column? Maybe I'm overreacting to all the reading lists of late, and I'll buy the different audiences argument, but would like to see Van Gelder (if it's his call) pare things back and push more stories over reviews. Make that font smaller, up the page count, and give me 1-2 novelets plus 5-10 short stories. I want to see what more people are up to. A lot more. (And bear in mind that Locus is charging you $6 a pop for a crapload of color photos of authors at conventions that are about as interesting to me as Average Joe or Fear Factor -- anyone want to run the numbers on Locus's readership versus F&SF's?)

- I'm really not looking for True Science stuff in a place like F&SF either. Especially not a story on something as controversial as global warming. Give it to me in Scientific American -- a hugely read mag across a massively diverse demographic -- and in F&SF instead give me another short story about the secret cabal of anti-bovine speciesist scientists creating a genetic form of massively methane farting cow designed to hurry the onset of global warming and require the extermination of cows everywhere. Maybe even a new section for flash fiction (which is sorely missing an outlet in the pro mags). I know, my tongue is on fire, get out the bar soap and all that.

Otherwise, love ya love ya love ya, F&SF. Keep the Hughes stories a-comin'.

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