April 2004, F&SF--it's a gas, gas, gas

This has quite a few items of interest.

Paul di Filippo tells us that "On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're Adorable"--another grand wish fulfillment, this time for all us bloggers. (I also liked the wish fulfillment, "The Great Nebula Sweep," where the protagonist won every award category possible for one story by rewriting it, again and again.)

Robert Sheckley has a new story, "The Forest on the Asteroid," that's not exactly Sheckleyesque--a new venture in voice. I like the voice, which still talks intimately with the reader, but it's also grittier and more intellectual. The story's not up to his usual par and minus the wit, but I look forward to where he takes this.

I've always admired Gordon Van Gelder's commitment to new and returning authors. This issue has a cute nature-restores-the-balance type story by Kate Mason. I eagerly await another appearance by Al Michaud whose story "Clem Crowder’s Catch" from July 2003 did not get as much attention as it deserved. It may not have been speculatively the most original, but the voice was incredible and contrasted perfectly against the backdrop of dark materials (although at times, a wee overboard at evoking the voices of Maine characters). The characters, too, were better than the average genre story. What a gem of a find that was. It's not often a first story sticks in a reader's mind of so long. I should have reviewed the story way back when I read it because it certainly deserves more attention.

Bruce McAllister has a brief fable in here as well. I haven't read anything by him since the old Omni days.

Ray Vukcevich is up to his old shenanigans in "Gas"--quirky as hell. It's not near his best work but weird and wooly and well worth the read. The bastard did the amazingly unforgivable: when asked for a grocery list, he gives a recipe for something deeper and sinister like a beautifully horrendous crisis to a climax of another wild story. If I were a writer on that list, I would be jealously angry and seek retribution for the implicit betrayal of the Mystical Writers' Guilds' Blood Oath and Secret Handshake. See his list for details of possible methods of repayment. (Other than Vukcevich's, the FB lists are fun to read for friends' and famous writers' handwriting if you've never seen them. Sometimes the lists offer glimpses into the daily lives of others, but mostly they are what FB implies they are: a fun little gag. They pulled a similar one last February using a few other writer pals. I'll review Daniel Braum's story there soon--another writer to watch.)

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