Friday, March 28, 2014

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

I love magazines, and when it comes to fiction, I love the short forms. I often wish we could return to those days when writers were able to make a living writing short fiction and there were tons of magazines out there devoted solely to publishing fiction. Those days became a part of the past before I was born, and with each passing year, we lose more and more of "the pulps".

There are still a few around, and fortunately, there are still plenty of literary and small press magazines, but those with the pulp tradition are nearly gone. Off the top of my head I could name maybe five and I'd be hard pressed to name ten. That's why I try my best to support those traditional pulp magazines, like "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction". The best way to do that, of course, is to subscribe, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, especially on this blog, I had let my subscription expire years ago. So once I let some other glossy magazine subscriptions expire, I remedied this by picking up F&SF again.

I'd love to support more. "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine" and "Ellery Queen Magazine" are two that come to mind and ones I previously subscribed to. "Analog Science Fiction and Fact" was one I bought off the rack from time to time, but I didn't subscribe since I already had the F&SF subscription.

When I subscribed to F&SF again after all these years, I couldn't wait for the first issue to arrive, but when they said that I could expect my first issue to arrive in July, I was so disappointed I downloaded a free sample to my Kindle to hold me over.

Then today, alas, yes, today, my first issue arrived. My excitement was a testament as to how much a geek/nerd I am. As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm going to open it up and read with a joy I used to get when I was a kid - running off to a quiet room in the house, staking out my little corner, and read the night away.

In the meantime, if you truly love short fiction, and wish to support the industry and the magazines who fight hard each year to stay in business, find yourself a nice pulp magazine and subscribe.

Until Next Time...
Pulply Yours,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Words of the... Moment II

One of the reasons I'm restricting these posts to words I find while reading is because that means that people are actually using them. There are plenty of obscure words out there I could dig up and post here, but if they're words no one is using or no one will understand if you do use them, then what's the point (unless of course you're a logophile*).

Zeitgeist - For instance, I don't recall when I first came across this word, but I looked it up, and I'm glad I did. It's German for "spirit of the times" and Merriam-Webster officially defines it as "the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place." I've encountered this word a lot in reading about other authors, books, pieces of art and music. If you haven't encountered this word before, make sure to learn it. The more you read about other works, the more likely you will be to encounter it.

*And of course, the other word of the moment is "logophile". There is a story in Monday's Wall Street Journal about logophiles. So what does it mean? Quite simply, someone who loves words and language.

Until Next Time....
Logophilely Yours,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring In The Warren

It's officially Spring now, and as is a tradition of mine, it's time to reread "Watership Down" by Richard Adams. I even have it listed in my Recommended Reads list on the right side of this blog.

But this year, my "To Be Read" list is way too long to read the entire novel. I need to read it again, but with so many books stacked up and waiting for me, I just can't. At least not now. What I can do though is a pretty fair substitute, plus I truly enjoy the short forms of fiction. So that means it's time to pull "Tales From Watership Down" off the shelf and read a few of those stories instead.

"Tales" deal more with the mythology and legend that is one of the staples of the original novel. Some of those stories were intended to be published in the original work, but were deemed by Adams to pull the reader too far away from the main plot of the novel. Others were written years afterwards when Adams wanted to return to the world he had created. The book is divided into three sections and includes many tales involving El-ahrairah (the name I always have to flip to the glossary to remind myself how to pronounce it). Some of the other stories continue to follow characters from the original novels.

If you've never read this collection, you should. Reread the novel first, refamiliarize yourself with the world, then pick up this book and enjoy short little adventures in that little warren we've all come to love.

Until Next Time...
Wass-cally Yours,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How I Read Poetry

I received "White Trash & Southern: Collected Poems, Vol 1" by C.S. Fuqua through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program a little over a month ago with the expectation that I am to read it and post a review here and on At this point I'm proud to say I've made it about a quarter of the way through the book.
"Whoa, a real speed reader there, Michael. What the hell is taking you so long?"
Well, it's because I read poetry books differently than I do other books. I read poetry books the way I believe all poetry books should be read - slowly, deliberately, and in such a manner that each poem has a chance to bounce around inside my brain a few days before I read another handful of them.
No one should ever sit down and read a book of poetry cover to cover in one sitting, even though the word count of number of pages could be knocked off in an hour. Poems should be read a few at a time, thought about, contemplated, reread, thought about some more, read aloud, and then placed in context with the rest of the work (because the poet has ordered them the way they are for a specific reason). So when I received this book of poetry to review (and noticed the usually large number of poems included in this first volume), I wrote the author and warned him that it may be a while before I finished his book and posted a review. Like any author, Fuqua simply appreciated that someone was reading his work and was going to take the time to review it.
Let me just say, that at this point, these are some amazing and gut-wrenching pieces that invoke stark images and emotions, and I heartedly recommend it. And don't let the title fool you. Whether you grew up in a trailer park or happened to be the rich kid on the block, we all have some of these skeletons in the familial closet.
Until Next Time...
Poetically Yours,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Screen Capture 2

It's that time again... Guess the screen capture. This time from a classic 1985 movie about a trio of boys with a dream.

Both of these characters are avid readers. The character on the left reads lots of science fiction, in fact, those are his books that have the hole in the center of them. The character on the right is the brainy one of the group and reads lots of non-fiction science texts, and it's his basement/lab where these books were stored when an out of control experiment went wrong.

Further hint: The actor on the right came from a family of famous actors and died at a young age.

Name the movie. And for the really cheesy fans out there: Bonus if you can name the actors as well, including the female love interest.

Until next time...
Dreamily Yours,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Free David Weber

Like David Weber? Like free ebooks?

For many it has been common knowledge for a while now that many of David Weber's early novels are available in electronic format for free. You could buy omnibus editions that included e-copies you could download, give to friends, post on the internet, etc.

I have an old school Kindle, so I can get mine from Amazon. For other e-readers, check out David Weber's website or his page on Wikipedia for details.

I stumbled across this great deal while doing some general research, mostly trying to find well established authors I had just never got around to reading. Weber was on that list after years of seeing his novels at the local bookstores, but never quite pulling the trigger on them because I was either searching for something specific and not looking to start up a new series, or because maybe I just wasn't in the mood for science fiction at the time. Either way, I always meant to buy and read his stuff, just never did.  So when I hit Amazon and found a number of his books for free, I couldn't help myself, and downloaded the first book of the Honorbound series.

Giving away the first book, or the first few books of a series has become an effective means to win over future loyal customers. Publishers at first balked at this radical idea, and tested the market with only a couple of authors and with only the first book of a series. Publishers decided to take this chance after they saw the sales increase of later books in a series when they offered the first book for half-price. The concept was simple, and it worked - get readers hooked, and they will gladly pay for the rest of the books.

Just goes to show, businesses (including book publishers) sometimes have to be spoon-fed common sense.

Until Next Time...
Freebie-ly Yours,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Words of the...Moment

Who says genre fiction can't increase a person's vocabulary? Just this past week I ran across two words, from two different sources. One was from Robert Jordan's "A Shadow Rising" and the other was from the story "Special Delivery" by Jeff Grubb published in a collection of Dragonlance short stories called "The Search for Power: Dragons from the War of Souls". 

hackamore - (noun) - a simple loop bridle, by mean of which controlling pressure is exerted on the nose of a horse; used chiefly in breaking colts (1840-1850 American; Spanish influence)

wain - (noun) - a farm wagon or cart (before 900 CE Middle English; from the Old English waegn; eventually "wagon")

Until Next Time...
Linguistically Yours,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

GoT - Ready for Season 4

In the big ramp up for the premiere of Game of Thrones Season Four, the third season was released on DVD/BluRay last Tuesday. Of course I had preordered, then practically watched all ten episodes over the weekend. Then I was back online rewatching the trailers for Season Four that I've already watched a dozen times. I've read the third book, so I know what's going to happen in season four, but watching them on screen is just as much fun as reading the books - I get to relive the story in a condensed time while seeing how the directors interpret George R.R. Martin's vision. And since Martin is involved in the making of the shows, the look and feel are much more accurate to his vision.

There's still time to rewatch, now go get it, because remember in the game of thrones, either you win...or you die.

Until Next Time...
Gamingly Yours,