a m a g a z i n e o f s p e c u l a ti v e f i c ti o n
AN DREW M AGOWAN DAVI D TALLERM AN N I CK M AM ATAS DON N ORUM ERI N H OFFM AN J AM ES M AXEY
CLOSED SYSTEM BY M I KE G ALLAGH ER PART 4 OF 4
CH I LDREN N O M ORE BY M ARK L. VAN N AM E
I N TERVIEWS
CLAY & SU SAN GRI FFI TH LOU AN DERS ORSON SCOTT CARD $8
D U R H A M, N C ISSUE #4
& POETRY & ART & REVI EWS & M ORE
C O N TEN TS COVER ART
JET PACKS! Jason Strutz
4 FREEDOM ACRES Andrew Magowan 12 O, HARVARD SQUARE! Nick Mamatas 1 6 THE BURNING ROOM David Tallerman 21 A MATHEMATICIAN’S APOLOGY Don Norum 24 CITY OF SHADOW AND GLASS Erin Hoffman 26 TORNADO OF SPARKS James Maxey
33 CLOSED SYSTEM Mike Gallagher PART 4 OF 4
32 CLOSED SYSTEM Mike Gallagher ≈ Interview by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn 42 PYR AT FIVE & 1 00 Lou Anders ≈ Article and Interview by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn 50 CHILDREN NO MORE Mark L. Van Name ≈ Excerpt; Essay and Interview by Dan Campbell 56 THE GREYFRIAR Clay and Susan Griffith ≈ Review by Natania Barron; Article by Alex Granados 57 PATHFINDER Orson Scott Card ≈ Article by Alex Granados
40 HAPPENINGS 58 REVIEWS ≈ SURFACE DETAIL Iain M. Banks by Patrick Ward; THE SECRET HISTORY OF FANTASY Peter S. Beagle by Paul Kincaid; THE HORNS OF RUIN Tim Akers by Joseph Giddings; THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRINGHEELED JACK Mark Hodder by Joseph Giddings; THE WAY OF KINGS Brandon Sanderson by Richard Dansky; STORIES Neil Gaiman AND Al Sarrantonio by Richard Dansky; THE UNIVERSE IN MINIATURE IN MINIATURE Patrick Somerville by Jason Erik Lundberg 64 POETRY ≈ MASDEVALLIA Mark Brandon Allen; BEASTWOMAN’S SNARLED RUNE Rose Lemberg; ENCHANTMENT Jennifer McConnel; WITH THE FISHER ON THE LAKE Kaolin Fire; THE GUARDIAN AT THE FOUNTAIN OF ETERNAL YOUTH Alexandra Seide 66 EDITORIAL ≈ The Year That Was & The Year to Come
2 PYR 11 TACHYON PUBLICATIONS 20 FIRETOWER STUDIOS 23 DURHAM LITERACY CENTER 25 BAEN 38 FOUNDATION'S EDGE 39 STELLARCON 67 MUR LAFFERTY’S I SHOULD BE WRITING 68 ANGI SHEARSTONE’S BLOODDREAMS
ISSN 21 52-5234 is published quarterly by Bull Spec / PO Box 1 31 46 / Durham, NC 27709 / United States [+1 .877.867.6889] and is copyright © 201 0 Bull Spec & its contributors. Find it in your local book or comic shop or online at [bullspec.com]! Burning Catalonian Bull photo originally by Stuart Yeates, used and available under a Creative Commons BY- SA 2.0 license. Bleeding Cowboys font used by permission.
ANDREW MAGOWAN窶認REEDOM ACRES
ILLUSTRATION BY J ASON STRUTZ
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4
THAT’ S WHAT YOU GET IN A DOWN -MARKET SUB-DIVISION .
BY ANDREW M AGOWAN
DON’T LIKE THE NEW MAN ACROSS THE STREET. His eyes. And his greasy hair. Looks like he doesn’t shave very often. Unclean. I notice these things from behind the one-way glass of my front window. A mother has to. The truck and its cohort of wheeled bots load his things into the Steins’ old house. Nice people, the Steins. Rachel and Neal. And their daughter Rebecca. They moved two months ago when a spot opened up in Silver Glen Eagle. Their house has been vacant until tonight. Apparently people aren’t lining up to move into Freedom Acres. Boxes. More boxes. Cheap furniture, new, but somehow old looking, as if the manufacturer couldn’t be bothered. He stands to the side waiting for them to finish. He looks up and down the street with shifty, nervous eyes. There’s no one. What did he expect? The welcome wagon? It’s nine o’clock at night. Who moves in at night? What does he have to hide? His house is like a mirror image of mine, exact down to the millimeter and the number of fibers in the carpet, but flipped around so that left is right and right left. Only the one floor plan in Freedom Acres. That’s what you get in a down-market sub-division. Indian war whoops from the family room. Trevor is playing Geronimo! again. I pick up his remote and give him ten more minutes of attention. After that he’ll stumble in here yawning and rubbing his eyes, wanting to be carried, but he is too big now. I will put him to bed, set his timer to wake him up to pee at two and a half hour intervals. He still wets, the poor guy. Or he would without the shunt. I set him to wake up at six thirty so he doesn’t miss the bus. Everyone always comments on him. “He’s so well behaved,” they say. “How do you do it?” I smile. He wasn’t always like this. A few years ago he was just like any other little kid. Hated schoolwork, mouthed off, threw tantrums, talked constantly. Gave me a pain in my neck. A literal pain. Like someone was jabbing me with a fork right at the base of my skull. Jason didn’t want us to get the shunt. Said, “Boys will be boys.” Ridiculous. “You don’t have to deal with him,” I said. “I work from home. I need some peace.” I persisted. “We’re a two-income family. We can afford this. I know it’s expensive but it works. Trevor deserves it. The increase in school performance alone makes it worth the money. Of course it’s safe. They wouldn’t make it if it wasn’t. They wouldn’t risk the lawsuits.” Eventually he agreed with me. Jason works late again. It’s just as well. I have to work third shift tonight.
KELLY INHALED AND REACHED BACK AS BEST SHE COULD WITH HER TONGUE TO THAT LOOSE FILLING. S OMETIMES SHE COULD ADJUST THE STATIONS SHE GOT, BUT IT WAS ALWAYS TINNY AND DISTANT, LIKE SOMEONE HUMMING TO HERSELF TWO TOILET STALLS DOWN .
, H ARVARD SQUARE!
BY N ICK M AMATAS
ELLY LIKED THE NIGHT. It was cold in the pit but warm in her lungs and belly thanks to the butane lighter and Ziplock bag. Logan next to her, Smitty nearby chatting up the tourists. The lampposts around Harvard Square were fuzzed out like puffballs, the passers-by swam through the thick winter air nice and slow, and her filling was tuned to the radio station that reminded her of grandma. Logan snuggled in close. “Can you hear it, baby?” she asked, but Logan didn’t answer. He was on the nod, unable to hold up the sign which today read: LIVING IN THE FUTURE NEED $$$ FOR ROCKET FUEL. Beneath Kelly, the trains rumbled into the T station. The music changed. A voice, insistent. “Dennis,” she said, nudging Logan. He always responded to Dennis when he needed waking. Logan was his stupid street name, but he’d forget. “You hear this?” She put her mouth, open, on his ear. He shrugged her off. “I can hear it,” Smitty said, calling over his shoulder. “Snowflake, millions of icy lives snuffed out as they hit the still-warm concrete. The pain!” “Fourth lie, that’s what it’s saying.” Kelly inhaled and reached back as best she could with her tongue to that loose filling. Sometimes she could adjust the stations she got, but it was always tinny and distant, like someone humming to herself two toilet stalls down. It’d brought her to Boston. Even in North Charleston—“Up Chuck”, Kelly called
it—South Carolina, she’d been able to pick up Boston stations at night after the local ones signed off. It was just news radio, mostly, but the town seemed so busy, so wild, so not like Charleston. When she ran, she ran north. Met Logan. Begged for change and was happy. The winters were cold, but that just meant she didn’t have to smell herself or Logan when they found a place to peel off their stiff jeans and do it. Plus, Smitty was actually wealthy and he was crushing on her too. Kelly got the tooth back in tune. “Don’t fuck with me, Smitty,” she said. “I have a headache. I have a toothache. I just hear this voice: ‘Fourth lie, fourth lie—come to the fourth lie.’ ” “Well, whose voice is it?” asked Logan. He was awake again; he always managed to keep both eyes open when Smitty hovered too close to Kelly. “Some recording.” Logan draped his arm on Kelly’s shoulder and murmured something. Kelly opened her mouth and kissed him, hard and enthusiastic, pushing open his mouth with her own tongue. Then he jerked and pushed her away. “Ooth,” Logan said, his tongue out of his mouth, the 0gauge stud hanging heavily toward his chin. “I really heard it now. Yeah, fourth lie.” “The Human Dirt Bag is now the Human Antenna,” Smitty said. “Neat.” He cupped his hands and blew into
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4 them. The chains on his leather jacket jingled, so Kelly put her fingers to her lips. “Quiet, I’m trying to hear.” The boys both held their breath; Kelly couldn’t see the clouds of steam spewing out of their mouths anyway. She wondered for a second if this was all just a huff-dream, but the voice was there in the bones of her face. “State of four lies?” she asked herself. “Statue of three lies?” Smitty said, enunciating the first word like a correction: stat-chew. “You know, Harvard.” Smitty was actually from here. He wanted to be a street kid, but stayed close to his local bank branch. “John Harvard statue. It says he’s the founder; he’s not. It’s not even him on the fuckin’ statue, it’s just some douche in a robe. And, uh…” “Wrong year,” Logan said. “So what’s the fourth lie? Maybe it’s that rubbing the left foot of the statue isn’t good luck like all those Japanese tourists think, because Harvard kids go out at night and piss all over it.” “I’m going,” Kelly said. “C’mon.” She steadied herself as she stood and walked as purposefully as she could up the steps of the pit and toward the gates of Harvard Yard. Smitty stayed put for a moment and shouted, “What? Where are you even goin’?” then he followed. “I thought we were gonna get liquor!” Logan stirred, then slumped again. There was a gate open, Dexter, with the inscription “Enter To Grow In Wisdom” atop. Beyond it were the twisting paths of Harvard Yard: mostly empty, lampposts bright, buildings slab and brick. “It’s funny how we never go in here,” Kelly said. “Unless you’re in class or taking a tour or walking a dog, why would you?” Smitty asked. He stepped ahead of her and walked right to the statue of John Harvard. Even in the dusk, the left foot of the statue shone all brassy under the lampposts. The Yard was quiet. It was after the holidays and all the Harvard brats had gone home, or to Cape Cod or Maine or wherever people go to have magazine cover Christmases. The trees were bare, the walkways glistening with new snow. “He’s cute,” Kelly said. She didn’t think so—the face was hawkish, the hair wavy and primped at once, eyes dead—but she knew it would annoy Smitty to say so. “Now what? Rub the foot for piss like a tourist?” “Is the signal coming in any clearer?” Smitty kicked some snow off his shoes. “Definitely. It’s totally clear now.” “This is stupid.” “Go back to Logan. You guys can probably get enough money for some Peking ravioli.” “You gonna wait?” “Uh-huh.” “Well, what if something happens,” Smitty said. “What if
it’s an MIT prank?” He looked around. “Let’s hide and see if anyone else… was summoned.” “So, you’re going to stay?” Kelly said. “There’s not really any place to hide. In University Hall maybe?” “What if they’re in there,” said Smitty. “We can hide in Mass Hall, maybe, and see if people show up in cloaks, with torches, to perform profane rituals.” Kelly stared at him, her jaw set and eyes a little fearful. “You know, like public urination,” he finished. “Whatev,” she said. “They could be in Mass Hall too, drinking Mountain Dew. Maybe there’s something underground; a tunnel or meeting place.” Kelly reached for the dark right foot and tried to manipulate its toes. “No, there isn’t,” Smitty said. “How do you know?” “It’s common knowledge. When they wanted to expand the T, the college blocked them from building any tunnels underneath the Yard.” Kelly smiled. “Maybe they did that. Or maybe they lied!” “Fourth lie?” “Yeah, let’s go to the T station,” Kelly said. Excited again, she just started walking. “What if we don’t find anything?” “You can buy me something at Dunkie’s. Logan too.” &
Back at the pit, Logan was awake but didn’t want to move until both doughnuts and smoothies were promised. The kids hustled down the escalator and bought Charlie Tickets; the sliding turnstile doors, plastic and translucent, made jumping impossible. Kelly led—her chin and thick jaw jutting out like a blunted compass needle—and weaved around the damp shoppers and their heavy bags, the boys in big pants, and the last few students clinging to town like holiday barnacles. “Wow, I can’t believe you can tell where to go,” Logan said. His beard was covered in crumbling pink and white frosting. “I can’t, Dennis,” Kelly said, “when you talk.” She stopped and took off her earrings: bangly silvery things. One went into a coat pocket, the other into her mouth, set back enough to contact the molar. She rotated her head like it was a radar antenna, and then nodded toward a service door. “Okay, okay.” Smitty stepped in front of her with one long stride. “Why are we doing this?” Kelly took the earring from her mouth. “I just wanna know.” “What if it’s dangerous?” “Dude, c’mon,” said Logan. He patted something under his own frayed jacket. “It’ll be all right. Maybe it’s just some dead old midget in front of a tape recorder. Maybe it’s
“M ISS TAVERSHAM , IT ISN ’T MYSELF I’ M WORRIED FOR. DO YOU SLEEP DEEPLY?”
HE BURNING ROOM
BY DAVID TALLERMAN
CAN’T SAY FOR SURE WHAT DREW ME to that ill-fated attic room. It was cheap, which was crucial, and I much preferred a landlady to a landlord, even if her behaviour was curious. These concerns were very real. Looking back, though, I wonder if they were decisive. There’s no doubt that my circumstances were difficult. I’d moved for the promise of employment with a small millinery firm, and to lodge with a kind-hearted aunt. The job had materialised, though with a lower wage than promised. The aunt, however, had fallen sick a week before, and died in hospital a day after my arrival. I’d found myself wandering the poorer parts of London, desperate for a residence that my meagre income would support. Thus, for all her strangeness, Mrs Faraday seemed like a blessing. She interviewed me in a small, drab kitchen, claustrophobically gloomy with the heavy curtains drawn. There were indications of poverty, but signs of former comfort also: the tablecloth, though faded, had once been fine; the chipped crockery in the cabinet was china of a more expensive sort. “I wouldn’t let it,” she said, “if I weren’t very desperate. I’ve put it off these past years since I lost my Daniel, Lord knows I have. But times are hard.” So she was widowed. That explained the odd mixture of penury and luxury. “I’ll be quiet, and no bother,” I replied. She stared at me. I couldn’t have hazarded a guess at her age. Her hair was grey, her eyes seemed washed of vitality, but her skin was unlined and seemed to belong to a much younger woman. She ran her fingertips down the swathe of crimson scarring that ran from her cheek to beyond her collarbone, and said, “Miss Taversham, it isn’t myself I’m worried for. Do you sleep deeply?” “I imagine so. It isn’t something I’ve considered.” “Then probably you do. Will you see the room?” “I’d like to.” From the kitchen, Mrs Faraday led me up a narrow staircase pressed into the side of the house. At the first floor was
a small landing with two exits, which we continued past. My initial view of the second floor was a corridor with a single door half way along its length. I could see from the curve of the ceiling that we were in the roof. Mrs Faraday led me to the door, opened it with a key, and ushered me through. Once there was space to pass, she did so, saying, “I’ll wait downstairs.” I watched her retreating back in perplexity. Only when she was out of view did I think to examine the room that might be my new home. I was surprised by how spacious it was: it ran the full breadth of the house, and though the arch above constricted the distance there was a portion of wall all around that reached to about waist height. It was more than large enough for my needs, and adequately furnished. To my left was a single bed with a nightstand. Opposite was an elderly mahogany wardrobe and to my right a washstand, a set of drawers, and a chair. A single sash window opened in that direction, giving a view over the rooftops, their red tile a dour brown in the autumn light. It was simple, even plain, and yet it struck a chord with me. I imagined myself sat at the window, reading verse under the bloody light of a London sunset, and a tingle ran up my spine. There was an atmosphere to the room, something not far removed from the gothic romances I’d delighted in as a girl—a sense of melancholy, and of something deeper still. If a first glance had convinced me to take it, a more rational voice warned me not to be overhasty. I passed five minutes in careful investigation, but turned up nothing, for little could be hidden in such an empty room. Then, as I turned to leave, I happened to glance at the ceiling, where the roof beams half-protruded through the plaster. They were painted white, but at the spot I’d noticed the paint had peeled, revealing the wood beneath. It was black, and when I pressed with my finger, it crumbled. Someone had evidently decorated to disguise fire damage.
I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A BIT SILLY AT THE TIME.
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4
ATHEMATICIAN ’ S APOLOGY
BY DON N ORUM
N EARLY GALLEY OF THE BOOK SITS on my coffee table, leather-bound and looking like a black letter bible with the title chased out in gilded letters. (An honor accorded to both Pfister and me as co-authors of the ultimate paper in all of mathematics. Ultimate—within six months of arXiv publication, we were the most widelycited authors since Erdős. Ultimate—from the Latin “ultima”, meaning greatest or supreme. And, in this case, last.) They say they did this as a courtesy, proving to me that English majors ought not to be publishing mathematics texts. Least of all this one. It shouldn’t be published at all, by anyone, ever. I admit that the book possesses a cold beauty, but my knowledge of where it came from turns it lifeless and abhorrent. I quicken at the thought of opening it and reading through its proofs, but that knowledge turns my guts like an erection over the corpse of a beautiful woman. &
“Are you free for a collaboration this semester?” Pfister asked. “Yes, I think so,” I said. “Why?” He worked in the physics department on something involving liquid air and lasers, whose name at the time reminded me somehow of Noah’s Ark. I taught logic and fundamental maths with the same tools Euclid used. “I need someone to put together a formal description of a proof,” he said. That surprised me a bit—I knew he was capable of constructing a proof himself, as could any number of students or software packages should his facilities fail him. I said as much. “Not a specific proof, more of a proof of a proof. Some method to test a proof—well, a collection of statements, at least—to see if it’s valid. The trick is, the algorithm will need to be modified to run on a unique computing platform.” I thought it was just a bit silly at the time. While there’s some use for computerized theorem systems in the area of derogatory-quote “experimental mathematics” end-quote, in my field you proved a theorem by constructing the proof itself. If you constructed it properly, then the proof must be correct. If you didn’t, then it couldn’t. If and only if. I was old-fashioned then, and I’m obsolete now. So it goes. Still, the idea intrigued me. I adapted an earlier formalization scheme to run on the platform he gave me, proved that it worked, and thought nothing more of it. Anyway, to simulate the algorithm would take a thousand years per cycle. If I hadn’t done it—if I had turned him down, pleaded imaginary overwork—someone else would have. That’s the way things go. The proofs already exist in some ideal, Platonic realm, so too must the program to derive those proofs. I only proofread the sections of the paper that dealt with my contributions directly. The rest was a tedious description of the apparatus and atomic physics, and by that time I had indeed accumulated an overabundance of obligations. &
All formal systems start with axioms, and the book uses just two, each written out over several onion-skin pages. First in symbolic logic, and then in English for the graduate-level layman.
WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR, AND FINDING IS THE EASY PART.
ITY OF S HADOW AND G LASS
BY ERIN H OFFMAN
OU CAN HOLD THE CITY IN YOUR MIND for a month if you are lucky, and skilled. The pathways etch and re-etch at the speed of celebrity, and to rise gasping from the stream is to become lost. My record on the outside is six weeks; the city calls you home. What matters is that you know what to look for, and finding is the easy part. I have tried to tell the leaf man this. “Spelling, spelling, chiquita,” he begs, “so they know how to find me,” as he has for the past two weeks. Last week it was “probiotic seratonin-stimulating herbals”, and I tell him to spell it the wrong way so he will get better customers. He does not understand viral dynamics, agalmic rapid propagation, and so he is here every week, searching for spelling—wondering, in the part of his mind that thinks it needs me, why I keep secrets from him. I envy his leaves, which are at least real, but if we were content with our own realities we wouldn’t be here. A grey shadow slides by my left elbow, the flash of a gold thistle-flower amulet inviting passersby into his neo-Victorian viz. You’d think the fire would have burned them out, but Victorians of any kind are persistent. “Join me, cousin?” is the amulet’s passive query—everyone is “cousin” here. The city breathes into you, makes its blood your own. His eyes are vague—his bubble casts me as a porter, perhaps, a green-grocer, black and white the way he is to me, an object to be forgotten. But then the man behind him, brilliant as a biolume tattoo, floods into my periphery—his fresh tags allow him this garishness in spite of my filters. “Hot viz, hot viz,” he mutters. The diagnostic shows he has touched three out of the eight most popular benders in the last week, which makes him Of Note. “Check it, bellisima, first one is free.” I catch the vizbit out of the air, my bubble knocks two tics and a worm off of it, and I separate out a suspicious little pattern that hasn’t yet made the blacklists, but probably should. The remaining bits feed glass. Activated. Whois: 2,891 online. Welcome to Somewhere.
The world melts into a sinuous phantasmagoria hot with design. The neo-Victorian receding behind me is a walking flow-
er, his thistle-emblem grown man-sized, vivid with purple tuft at dizzying resolution and pointed leaves aching for touch. Down the block he meets another thistle-flower, pale celadon to his purple, and their leaves brush, carrying a soft whisper that reaches my ears as seven notes of music. The dieselpunk behind them shows this viz-artist’s bias—he drips with petroleum that trails acid where the walking flowers leave petals, and here the petals squabble in tiny battle against corrosion. This is metaviz, bringing the etched worlds into one, weaving what does not want to be woven. The skyscrapers, too, are transformed, and undulate in towers of shifting reality. When the neo-Vics enter a swaying copse of eight-story bamboo forest, they shift its balance, shimmering it to solidify into yellow brickwork edged with brass and copper, balustrades shaped into Chinese animals, foyer lined with massive potted plants. The streets realign, making way for expanding brick. I disengage the viz and raise my hand to the luminescent vendor, and he slides on to his next mark. Here in default the streets are as they were before the metaviz, but that vision is spreading, and obsolescence tugs at the sleeves of my reality. The city is change that knows no rest, here on the flip side of time. In the cold hours, eyes burned by viz-ghosts, mind turned dark with the real, you dream of going up, going home. But you won’t. The city doesn’t want you to fail. ■
Erin Hoffman has designed video games for the last ten years, but hopes you won’t hold that against her. If it helps, all roads to her creativity stem from the written word, and her deepest love is for text-based online worlds—books that never end. She’s always had one foot in the future and the other in worlds that don't exist, and her first fantasy novel, Sword ofFire and Sea, is forthcoming from Pyr Books in June 2011. She lives with her husband, two parrots, and a shifty-eyed dachshund in the San Francisco bay area, and more can be found at her website, [www.erinhoffman.com].
SUN -DRAGONS WERE THE UNQUESTIONED PINNACLE OF THE FOOD CHAIN, BEASTS WITH FORTY-FOOT WINGSPANS AND TOOTHY JAWS THAT COULD BITE A HORSE IN TWO.
ORNADO OF S PARKS
BY J AMES M AXEY
ENDEVOREX STOOD BEFORE THE TRIO OF sun-dragons, juggling a white ball of fire between his foretalons. “All fire is subservient to my will,” he said, allowing the flaming orb to fade into a coal black lump, which he crumbled to dust. Though he didn’t mention it, light was also Vendevorex’s plaything. The wizard bent light in a dozen subtle ways to enhance his appearance. The sky-blue scales of his hide glistened like wet gemstones. The diamonds that studded his wings cast rainbows with every movement. The silver skullcap that adorned his brow was wreathed in a shimmering halo. Vendevorex hoped to impress the king by looking more like a being from another world than a humble sky-dragon. “Your so-called magic has an odor to it,” said Zanzeroth, the sun-dragon who stood behind the king. “It reminds me of the scent of a storm. It smells like… trouble.” Zanzeroth was the king’s most trusted advisor. Vendevorex knew it was vital to win him over. “Your senses are finely tuned, noble Zanzeroth,” Vendevorex said, in a flattering tone. “Only a few dragons are refined enough to detect the aroma of true magic. Of course, magic is trouble… trouble that may be directed against the king’s enemies.” Though he delivered his comment to Zanzeroth, Vendevorex carefully watched King Albekizan for a reaction. Albekizan was a giant bull of a sun-dragon, a creature who, even resting on the azure silk cushions of his throne pedestal, looked like the embodiment of raw power. Sun-dragons were the unquestioned pinnacle of the food chain, beasts with forty-foot wingspans and toothy jaws that could bite a horse in two. With symmetrical features and muscles sculpted beneath a hide of ruby scales, Albekizan looked down on Vendevorex with the assured poise of a creature confident he could kill everyone in the room. Vendevorex was half the size of the king. It was the height of arrogance for him to seek admittance as a peer in the court. Sky-dragons earned places of respect in the kingdom as scholars and artists, but they were seldom found in positions of true authority. Vendevorex knew it would be a challenge to convince the king of his value. So far, he’d demonstrated abilities that he was certain the king would find useful in a personal wizard. He’d turned invisible, he’d populated the room
with doppelgangers, and he’d conjured fire from thin air. Albekizan had greeted these feats with indifference, even boredom. Vendevorex looked toward the king’s companions. Zanzeroth, a dragon over twenty years the elder of the king, gazed at him with suspicion. To the left of Albekizan sat Kanst, the king’s younger cousin, openly scowling. Vendevorex had studied all the residents of the palace invisibly before requesting an audience with the king. He knew that persuading either Zanzeroth or Kanst would lead to acceptance by Albekizan. Alas, the sun-dragons were proving more skeptical than he’d hoped. “Other conjurers have come before us,” Zanzeroth said. “They present us with mirrors and juggling and dare to call it magic. What makes your claims any different?” “Better mirrors,” Vendevorex said, as he willed his eyes to appear as dark pools full of stars. “I’ve journeyed to the abode of gods and stolen their secrets.” “Your talk of gods falls on deaf ears, little dragon,” Kanst said. “What use has the mighty Albekizan for your illusions?” “Illusions?” said Vendevorex. He spread his wings wide, to show that he had no hidden devices. In truth, most of his magic was mere illusion, but he possessed genuine power as well, the ability to manipulate matter with but a touch. “You misjudge me. The king is indeed mighty. I, however, am master of an unseen world. I hold power over fire, and wind, and stone. I’m no simple conjurer. Behold.” Vendevorex leaned down, allowing a wreath of white flame to envelop his foretalon. He touched it to the marble floor and melted his talon-print into the stone. He stood up, the outline of his claws in the marble still spitting jets of flame. He looked the king once more in the eyes. “You sit there,” he said, aware of the arrogance in addressing the king so brusquely, “the proudest dragon ever to have lived. Your pride is well earned. In far-away lands I’ve heard of you, Albekizan. I’ve heard of your hunger for power. What I’ve done to this marble tile I could do to a mountain. There is no fortress your enemies can hide within that I could not burn to ash. I am power, Albekizan. And for a price, I will be a power at your command.” To his relief, Albekizan looked more intrigued than angry
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4 at his bold display. “What price?” the king asked, in a rumbling voice. It was the first time Albekizan had spoken to him. “An appointment to your court,” said Vendevorex. “A home within the confines of your castle, and a position of authority as your chief consultant on all matters of magic.” Zanzeroth asked, “With your boasts of power, why would you desire these things?” “Noble Zanzeroth,” Vendevorex said, with a slight bow. “When I say I have been to the home of the gods, I do not speak metaphorically. I’ve traveled outside the ordinary world to gain my knowledge. The price I’ve paid is great; I can no longer return to the land of my birth. My choice is now to wander the world, an eternal stranger, or seek a new home. King Albekizan is the mightiest of earthly dragons. It’s natural that I desire to serve him; he’s the only dragon alive who can grant me the wealth and status that I feel are my rightful due.” “Why would you need wealth?” Zanzeroth scoffed. “Instead of defacing the king’s floor, couldn’t you have turned the marble to gold? Those diamonds in your wings… are they mere glass?” “I measure wealth in more than gold and jewels,” said Vendevorex. “True wealth comes from being valued in one’s work and knowledge.” This answer seemed to please Albekizan. His eyes brightened as he said, “I can think of many uses for a dragon who may become invisible.” “Such as a spy?” Kanst asked. Kanst was a dragon nearly as big as Albekizan, even more heavily muscled, but with a certain blockiness to his features that made him look less intelligent than his companions. “How do we know you aren’t one? Or an assassin in league with the Murder God?” “If I were a spy, would I not simply linger in your midst invisibly to learn your secrets?” Vendevorex said, deciding that Kanst’s question was too dangerous to leave unanswered. “And if I were an assassin—” “If you were an assassin you could have killed us unseen,” said Zanzeroth. “Or made the attempt, at least.” Vendevorex tried to judge from the older dragon’s tone whether he was leaning in support of him, or simply annoyed by Kanst’s poor reasoning. “No,” said Zanzeroth, narrowing his gaze. “You’re no assassin. You are, however, a liar, to come here and speak to us of gods. I don’t know the source of your ‘magic,’ but I know a falsehood when I hear one.” “Lie or not,” the king said, glancing toward the imprint in the marble, “I’m intrigued by your abilities. You could burn a stone castle?” “I call the flame I control the Vengeance of the Ancestors,” said Vendevorex. (In truth, until that exact second, he’d only
called it “flame,” but he felt that his presentation needed more dramatic flare.) “There is nothing the Vengeance will not consume, and it responds to my will alone.” The king rose and moved toward the far end of the hall, which was open to a night sky full of stars. He spread his broad wings and said, “I’d like a larger demonstration. I’d also like no further damage to my floor. Follow me.” The king leapt into the air. Winds swept the hall, buffeting Vendevorex, as Zanzeroth and Kanst joined the king, beating their enormous wings. Vendevorex, unsure what the king had in mind, turned invisible. He found the large leather satchel he’d hidden behind a pillar. This bag contained all his worldly goods, including the true source of his powers. He opened the satchel and dipped his right foretalon into a jar of silver powder, coating it with a fresh dose of the miraculous stuff. The dust immediately vanished into his hide. Then, he closed the jar, slung the satchel over his back, and gave chase to the king. The head-start the sun-dragons possessed proved little challenge for Vendevorex. Though sky-dragons lacked the sheer physical power of sun-dragons, they were much faster and more graceful in the air. Invisibly, Vendevorex drew to a glide behind the royal party. When the sun-dragons flapped their wings, it sounded like gusts from an enormous bellows. Vendevorex’s own flight was utterly silent as his sensitive wings rode on the turbulence left in the trio’s wake. Kanst flew directly beside Albekizan, which came as no surprise to Vendevorex. The roles of the king’s companions had become evident during his surveillance. Kanst possessed an arrogance that came from knowing he was related to the king by blood. Zanzeroth followed behind the king, perhaps slowed a bit by his age. But as the elder dragon looked over his shoulder, searching the sky, it soon became apparent that the true reason Zanzeroth lagged behind was to watch the king’s back. From what Vendevorex had learned, Zanzeroth didn’t boast any sort of royal lineage. He’d lived the earliest years of his life feral, a wild young dragon surviving purely on wits and instinct, before being discovered by Albekizan’s father. The old king had treated the task of civilizing the savage young Zanzeroth as an obsessive hobby. The civilizing hadn’t fully taken. To this day, Zanzeroth was respected as the most effective hunter in all the kingdom, the only dragon who dared to best the king during recreational hunts. Zanzeroth was, at heart, a creature ruled by instinct, and Vendevorex knew that the elder dragon’s instincts were not to trust him. Albekizan led them to a nearby cornfield. It was late summer, and heat still rose from the dark earth. Corn stalks fluttered in great waves as the wind of the king’s wings beat down upon them. He was coming down for a landing near a stone cottage. Vendevorex had spotted the place during his
Bull Spec, 2010
CLOSED SYSTEM by Mike Gallagher Interview by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
Mike Gallagher’s graphic short story “Closed System” reaches its conclusion with a fourth and final installment in this issue. We talk about his influences as an artist, writer, and illustrator, his day job as the manager of a multiplex, censorship in comics, and more. Where did you grow up, and what were your early influences in terms of illustration and comics? I was born in State College, pa and grew up in Altoona. I was drawing at a very early age, and discovered comics around age 6. My earliest influences were my parents encouraging me to draw. In junior high school my art teacher, Mr. Steiner, encouraged me a great deal. He taught me about how art could be a career. I got to work on some of his freelance projects, things like designing a Sky Brothers logo and choosing colors for the University of Miami football team logo. High school gave me several art teachers that pushed me hard to make me better and take it seriously. I drew a ton of anime back then, back before anyone knew what it was. I started going to comic conventions then, too. I met one of my comics idols, Dave Cockrum. He took some time to speak to me one on one, review my art and give me pointers. He was a huge influence on me then and still today. I was heartbroken when he died. College was just digging in and working. I had made my first professional sale just before graduating high school so I went to college a little cocky. Jim Innes, the drawing prof who would go on to become one of my best friends in
school, broke me of everything and built me back up. He was my Yoda. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hear his voice in my head reminding me of things, both art and personal. In college I learned to appreciate illustrators on a whole new level. I learned about all aspects of art. I couldn’t get enough! Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, Albrecht Dürer, George Grosz, Patrick Nagel, David, and Fra Filippo Lippi all influenced me in some way. Alex Raymond, John Byrne, Art Adams, Neal Adams, Dave Cockrum, Haruhiko Mikimoto, Tezuka, P. Craig Russell, and Frank Miller all influenced me as well. I take inspiration from wherever I can. I love going through magazines or books to glean any little tidbit of design or illustration from it.
What writers and illustrators do you follow these days? I read Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Kafka, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Paul McAuley. I love biographies on filmmakers and scientists, and I have been studying more digital art recently. Comics are all over the place. Your thesis in the BFA program at IUP was on censorship in comics. What brought that topic to your attention? Piss Christ by Andres Serrano and all the craziness that was going on in New York in 1989. Serrano and Mapplethorpe were under attack as was anyone that was being deemed obscene by the Christian Right. The NEA was under attack. The tenets of freedom of expression were being dissected before the entire country. Jesse Helms was trying to shut down artists’ rights. This spoke to everyone in my school. It was on our minds constantly, but many did not see how important it was to stop what was happening. There was a huge difference between “offensive” and “obscene” that light had to be shed on. And the very idea that the government or a religious group could impose any form of censorship on art in any form was as repulsive to me then as it remains today. What can you tell me about Ruin—the story, the art, and its publishing history? Ruin was a 3-issue mini-series by myself and Tom Pinchuk. We got it published through Alterna Comics with uneven results in 2005-06. There was no support from our publisher on any level and the whole experience was poor. I certainly learned a lot so it wasn’t a waste, but I don’t know if our comic will ever see the light of day again. I am still looking for a new publisher for it. You’ve designed T-shirts, tattoos, and a gated community. What are your design influences, and is there continued on page 37
Happenings aims to keep track of publications by writers of speculative fiction in the greater Raleigh-Durham area, along with events of local interest.
NOVEMBER 1 John Kessel’s short story “The Closet” was published in F&SF. 6 Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books hosted the launch of Bull Spec #3 and The Order of Dagonet #4 with guests David Drake, Melinda Thielbar, and
Firetower Studios’ Jeremy Whitley and Jason Strutz. 11 B&N of Durham, New Hope Commons hosted NC Speculative Fiction Night with Kij Johnson, Richard Dansky, Melinda Thielbar, Mur Lafferty, Natania Barron, Davey Beauchamp, Warren Schultz, R.E. VanNewkirk, Dan Campbell, Alex Granados, Jaym Gates, and more. 12 Clay and Susan Griffith launched their novel The Greyfriar (Pyr) at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books. 12 John Claude Bemis’ 2009 novel The Nine Pound Hammer was awarded the 201 0 NC Juvenile Literature Award. 13-14 NC Comicon was held at the Morrisville Outlet Mall. 1 6 Cate Tiernan read and signed her new YA novel Immortal Beloved at The Regulator. 17 Johnson’s short story “Ponies” was published at Tor.com. 1 8 Richard Butner’s short story “Holderhaven” was published in Crimewave 11: Ghosts (TTA Press).
DECEMBER 1 Quail Ridge Books hosted Orson Scott Card’s reading and signing of his
new YA novel, Pathfinder. 1 Gwendolyn Clare’s short story “Ashes on the Water” was published in Asimov’s January 2011 issue. 1 Jeremy Whitley (story, “A Crisis of Purpose”) and Jason Strutz (cover art) were published in the superhero anthology No More Heroes (The Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Wayne Goodchild and Bill Tucker). 1 The Raleigh Review published Volume 1 in their annual print journal series, with editors and contributors (among others) Will Badger. 2 Samuel Montgomery-Blinn’s short story “The Man in the Mirror” was published in the anthology 52 Stitches: Horror Stories, Volume 2 (Strange Publications, ed. Aaron Polson). 17 Baen’s website relaunches with free fiction, non-fiction, and monthly features. 20 Dan Campbell’s poem “moving mom” was published in issue #2 of Stone Telling.
Editor’s Picks: Without a doubt, make it to one of Durham author David Halperin’s readings of his upcoming novel Journal of a UFO Investigator, and look for a local launch event for Apex author Jay Requard’s The Night.
N I N G S JANUARY 12 NC Speculative Fiction Night #2 at The Regulator, with the Bull Spec #4 launch. Clay and Susan Griffith, Gray Rinehart, Andrew Magowan, Maxey, Gates, and more. 17 Board Game Night at Chapel Hill’s Internationalist Books.
FEBRUARY 1 John Kessel to have a short story published in Asimov’s March 2011
issue. 8 David Halperin to launch his new novel Journal of a UFO Investigator (Viking) at Flyleaf Books. 9 The Regulator to host author Alice Hoffman’s reading and signing of her new novel The Red Garden. (Hoffman visits Quail Ridge Books on the 1 0th and Flyleaf Books on the 11 th.) 1 0 Halperin to continue his book launch with a reading and signing at The Regulator.
MARCH 4 Jay Requard’s debut fantasy novel The Night to be published by Apex
Authors James Maxey, Jaym Gates, and Natania Barron (among others) field questions.
NC SPECULATIVE FICTION NIGHT photo by Libby Himberger, LKH Photography
publisher Peak City Publishing. 4-6 StellarCon 35 to be held in High Point, NC. (See page 39 for more info.)
A little more than five years ago, Lou Anders was brought on as editorial director to launch a new science fiction imprint for long-standing nonfiction publisher Prometheus Books. That imprint is Pyr, and in those 5 short years it, and Anders, have reached the century mark—100 books. Read on for a look back through those 100 books and on how Anders has guided the imprint, followed by an at-length interview. PYR AT FIVE & 1 00 Article by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
Lou Anders has traveled a rather unusual road to heading a science fiction and fantasy publishing imprint, if there is indeed any map at all for the trip. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Anders went from directing plays in Chicago to working on sets in Los Angeles. From there Anders began a half-decade as Titan Publishing’s “Los Angeles liaison”, writing more than 500 articles focusing largely on Star Trek and Babylon 5, along with Doctor Who, Star Wars, and manga. After both Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine ceased production, Anders was brought up I-5 to San Francisco to act as the Executive Editor for Bookface, a “read on demand” website, from which he collected his first short fiction anthology, Outside the Box. After the bursting dot-com bubble left Bookface in its wake, Anders launched Argosy Magazine, a primarily short fiction magazine with an eclectic mix of genre and mainstream fiction, and edited a second short fiction anthology, Live Without a Net. His reputation for picking excellent fiction and his dedication to publication quality now firmly established, Anders was ready for the next step. Prometheus Books came calling, and Jonathan Kurtz, the
company’s president, knew immediately that he had his man. With five years and 100 books behind them, Kurtz is quite happy with how things have turned out. “As a nonfiction press entering completely new waters by launching a science fiction and fantasy imprint,” Kurtz said, “we needed an individual who obviously knew the genre, was well-connected within the genre world, and above all was passionate about the genre. The very moment I met Lou I knew he was exactly what we were looking for: smart, energetic, connected, and über-passionate about his craft. He is a brilliant editor, tireless worker, creative thinker, tremendously kind individual, and a good friend. I would say that qualifies as exceeding expectations.” From the beginning, Pyr intended both to publish original novels and also to bring to North America books from elsewhere which Anders felt were overlooked. Anders started with John Meaney’s British Science Fiction Awardnominated Paradox, published five years previously in the United Kingdom, and Sean Williams’ Aerealis Award-nominated and Ditmar Award-winning The Resurrected Man, published seven years previously in Australia. “It began with John Meaney—an underappreciated genius whose work I discovered well before Pyr and who utterly blew me away in the way that Frank Herbert’s Dune blew me away as a teen,” Anders said. “I couldn’t believe his Nulapeiron Sequence wasn’t already in the States, and it was the first thing I picked up when starting Pyr.” That first year (2005) saw Pyr publish four original books: Chris Roberson’s Here, There & Everywhere, Fiona Avery’s The Crown Rose, The Prodigal Troll by Charles Coleman Finlay, and Michael Blumlein’s The Healer. Rounding out the first year at Pyr were an anthology, the Gardner Dozois-edited Galileo’s Children: Tales OfScience vs. Superstition, and Robert Silverberg’s 1986 novel Star Of Gypsies, then out of print in North America. &
Prometheus Books is named for the Titan from Greek mythology who gave fire to humans, at great cost to himself. While most known for its nonfiction works of humanism and skepticism, it was Prometheus Books’ strengths as a publisher of popular science and science nonfiction which originally inspired the idea of a science fiction imprint, and the humanist direction of Prometheus Books is not meant to influence the books which Anders acquires. “Above all Lou wants quality,” Kurtz said. “Quality content in a quality package. He is always looking for solid literary science fiction and fantasy. Lou has a great knack for recognizing winners without sacrificing quality. We have never put any limits on Lou’s acquisitions in regards to our nonfiction publishing program.” From the get-go, quality has visibly been at the forefront
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4 Why is science fiction important? We could do an entire essay just on this (and I’ve given whole talks on it too) but essentially science fiction is important because it is the only branch of literature devoted to the inevitability of change. By taking a rational approach to the universe, it professes that reason and logic and science are good things (not the default opinion by a long stretch—not in an age and a country where so many people discount evolution, DNA testing, global warming…). By dealing with the future head on it forces us to recognize that the present isn’t like the past and the future won’t be like the present. It serves as a ward against what Alvin Toffler once
denly found myself working as the editor of a short fiction magazine today, I would strive for a similar approach.
I saw a few things I wanted to ask about on your Facebook info page: Counting Crows, Pattern Recognition (instead of more “obvious” Gibson books), and Miller's Crossing. I love Gibson for the new books far more than the Sprawl trilogy. He’s always been writing about this period right now, and his fiction has been set closer and closer to now as we approached the turn of the millennium. I predict in ten years he’ll be a historical fiction writer. As to the Counting Crows, let’s just say I wasn’t to see Adam Duritz WE COULD DO AN ENTIRE ESSAY JUST ON THIS BUT ESSENTIALLY surprised seated behind me at a Robyn SCIENCE FICTION IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY BRANCH Hitchcock show at McCabe’s Record Store some years back. OF LITERATURE DEVOTED TO THE INEVITABILITY OF CHANGE. Lyrics matter to me too. called “futureshock.” And it inspires the future. I’d boil it Miller’s Crossing? How can you not love a gay relationship down to four things: 1, it inspires actual science; 2, it warns film disguised as a prohibition-era gangster movie? against certain developments and trends by taking an “if this goes on” approach (Orwell’s 1984); 3, it allows us to exYou've recently written “the end” at the end of a 96,000amine the present by taking a step back via metaphor, exagword novel manuscript. How have your years as an editgeration, and satire; and 4, it preaches tolerance, or shaped how you approached and wrote the novel, and rationalism, and open-mindedness as a good thing. can you tell me a bit more about the book other than “young adult urban fantasy”? Who did you have to convince to put Masked together? I’m not going to speak publicly about it beyond “young Swords & Dark Magic? adult urban fantasy” until it has a publishing deal, but I will The wonderful Jennifer Heddle at Pocket/Gallery bought say that I tried in college to write a novel—even dropping Masked. It was Jen who bought my first professional anthoout for a semester—and I tried in the 90s, and again at the logy, Live without a Net, when she was at Roc, so I owe her start of this decade (novelizing one of my unproduced quit a bit and it was great to work with her again. Diana screenplays) and this is the first time I’ve ever written “the Gill at Eos bought Swords & Dark Magic. Diana is equally end” on a piece of prose this long. I think that ten years as wonderful, and she had worked with my co-editor on S&DM, an editor really has made a difference in incalculable ways. I Jonathan Strahan, previously on his New Space Opera learned a lot about story structure writing screenplays in LA books. in the 90s, but the last ten years have taught me a lot about the oh-so-important smaller bits that hang on that strucLooking at the tables of contents of Argosy: Moorcock, ture. I was so insulted in my 20s when a Greek journalist in Ford, Kiernan, Stross and Doctorow, Jeff VanderMeer, London told me that you had to be over 30 to write, but …. Is there one story from that time which you think of she was telling the truth, at least in my case. But perhaps as the selection you are proudest of? more important is the fact that I hadn’t accomplished one We published two short novels—Michael Moorcock’s The quarter as much in the decades leading up to my marriage Mystery ofthe Texas Twister and Cory Doctorow and as I have in the seven years I’ve been married to my wonCharles Stross’s The Rapture ofthe Nerds. I’m very proud of derful wife! There’s no way the book, or the job at Pyr, or each. (The former was reprinted in The Metatemporal Detect- anything would exist if I hadn’t met her. ■ ive, from Pyr books, and I believe Tor is bringing out a reprint of the latter, with additional material soon.) But I was  http://www.nea.gov/news/news09/ReadingonRise.html also very proud of the way that Argosy was genre-agnostic. We published science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and literary More Pyr-related content in this issue: reviews of The fiction all in the same issue. It was dedicated to the idea of Horns ofRuin and The Strange Affair ofSpring-Heeled the good story and didn’t stick to a single genre. If I sudJack, and a feature on The Greyfriar.
CHILDREN NO MORE by Mark L. Van Name
Baen published Mark L. Van Name’s Children No More in August, the fourth book in his Jon & Lobo series. Read on for an excerpt, a personal essay, and an interview. EXCERPT CHAPTER 1 :
Near the jump gate of planet Hardy
“If I show you, you’ll be in.” Alissa Lim, the woman in the holo floating in the still air in front of me, paused and stared intently ahead, confident I would be listening, sure I would be focusing on her. She was right. I was. “I don’t know where you are,” she continued, “or when you’ll find one of these messages, so maybe it’ll be too late, and you won’t have to make this decision.” Another long pause. Another focused stare. “But if it’s not, and if you watch any of the attachments, you’ll find me, and you’ll argue with me, but in the end you’ll join me. That’s even what I want, obviously, or I wouldn’t have planted these recordings on every planet I could manage, but I guess I felt—” she hung her head “—I felt that you should know I have a sense of what getting involved might cost you. If I didn’t think we needed you, I wouldn’t ask, but we do. We need you, and we need Lobo.” “Freeze it,” I said. “Done,” Lobo said, his voice coming from everywhere and nowhere, “but all that remains is a few seconds of her standing there.”
I got out of the pilot couch and approached the holo slowly, as if Lim might spring from it and attack me. Lobo had positioned it exactly in the center of his front cabin command area and angled her face toward me. He rotated it as I moved, until I said, “Leave it.” I walked around it, examining the image from all sides. “There’s nothing else to learn,” Lobo said. “If someone made Alissa do this, they were wise enough to rinse this part of the recording of everything except her.” Lim wore a plain black jumpsuit, no visible pockets, no logos, almost certainly armored. On most people it would have faded into the kind of bland garment you pass in a crowd and never notice. On her, it accented perfectly the richer, darker black of her long, straight hair, the almost glowing mellow golden tone of her skin, her full and wide and ever so slightly reddish lips. She was as astonishingly beautiful as the last time I’d seen her, a bit over three years ago. When she’d rescued me from a torturer. When she’d gotten shot helping me save a girl I’d inadvertently placed in harm’s way. I owed her, and she knew it. I settled back into the pilot’s couch. “Turn off the lights,” I said. “You could heed her warning and stop watching,” Lobo said. “We could jump to another planet and pretend we never saw this.” “You know better,” I said. Lobo wasn’t just my ship, nor was he simply the most capable artificial intelligence ever created. He was also, after three years together, my closest friend. “Yes, I do,” he said. The lights winked out. For a moment, I sat in total blackness. The soft couch gave me the illusion of floating in a silent, dark, and still nothingness, much as Lobo and I were suspended in space near the jump gate for Hardy, the planet where I’d spent the last six months staying as far from the attention of any planetary coalition as I could and wondering what to do next. “Play the first one,” I said. CHAPTER 2:
Rebel jungle base, outside Ventura, planet Tumani
“This devil helped the Tumani government kill your parents,” the large man said. Easily the same two meters tall that I am, but at least twenty kilos heavier than my own hundred, the copperskinned man spoke in a booming voice that matched well with his size.
BULL SPEC—ISSUE #4 books. In summation, within the context of giant fantasy novels, The Way ofKings has a fair bit to recommend it. Readers looking for a faster pace or a more focused narrative probably won’t get much out of it, though one suspects they’d largely be turned off by the sheer page count before cracking the cover. But for fans of The Wheel ofTime and its ilk, The Way of Kings is going to be a meaty and satisfying read. &
STORIES edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio William Morrow, 2010
Review by Richard Dansky
It may have been W.H. Auden who said (more or less) that he felt bad for Poe, who suffered the singular misfortune of being constantly trotted out to show that Big L-Literature could still be the Good Stuff—i.e., writing full of murder, supernatural horror, and tarns (because really, who doesn’t love a good yarn about a tarn). Fast forward a bit, and now we have Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, which operates on roughly the same wavelength. This is a book clearly targeted at the New Yorker/literary fiction audience, packed with a Justice League-caliber lineup of (mostly) genre fiction luminaries, and intended to settle the argument once and for all that, yes, genre fiction is of sufficient quality to be considered literary. And oh, what a lineup it is. Joyce Carol Oates. Michael Moorcock. Joe Hill. Tim Powers. Elizabeth Hand. Peter Straub. Roddy Doyle. The hits just keep on coming, one after another. The sheer star power is enough to make the book a little overwhelming, and by and large the stories live up to the billing. Hand’s “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” is positively gorgeous. Walter Moseley’s “Juvenal Nyx” is meditation on love couched in a subtly new vampiric context. Kurt Andersen’s “Human Intelligence” is a sly take on the “alien gods” riff, and Michael Marshall Smith’s “Unbelief” gives a seemingly standard contract killing an unsettling twist at the end. What the book is lacking, however, is a sense of fun. Literary means serious, after all, and these are by and large serious stories. Gaiman’s usual literary playfulness is subdued in his “The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains”, a grim tale of retribution. Lawrence Block’s serial killer tale “Catch and Release” comes from the darker side of his ledger, eschewing any of the jazzy fun of his Keller or Bernie Rhodenbarr books. Picoult’s “Weights and Measures” starts with the death of a child, and deals with the shattering impact it has on the parents. In “The Stars Are Falling”—a title with a thematic link to Jeffrey Ford’s “Polka Dots and Moon-
beams”—Joe Lansdale stays Bottoms-level Gothic, instead of straying toward Hap and Leonard territory. The only real sparks of levity, of playfulness in the book come from Diana Wynne Jones’ E!-generation take on the twelve days of Christmas in “Samantha’s Diary”. Michael Swanwick has some meta fun with “Goblin Lake”, which does an elegant job of de-grimming a Grimm-style fairy tale. Less successfully, Joanne Harris’ “Wildfire in Manhattan” plunks down Norse gods in present day Manhattan for wacky hijinks with a side of Lovecraft, but the ending feels pat and unsatisfying. And that’s about it for the lighter side of things, the rakish promise of the cover art (which features a lone figure battling a three-eyed monster with only a fountain pen as a weapon) largely sidelined. Yes, the anthology does live up to its title—the stories contained within are superb exemplars of the form by some of the best working in the field today. It’s just mildly disappointing to find that some of what helped these authors achieve that exalted status didn’t make it into the book with them. &
THE UNIVERSE IN MINIATURE IN MINIATURE by Patrick Somerville Featherproof Books, 2010
Review by Jason Erik Lundberg The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville
is Featherproof Books’ second foray into speculative fiction (the first being Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler). Although the book appears to be a short story collection, it reads more like a fragmented composite, with lots of different first-person narrators sharing the same geographical space (Chicago, and its surrounding environs) in more or less the same time period: late 2010. The book may not “bust genre” as claimed by the flap copy (whatever that may mean), but it does place itself within the cross-genre or interstitial corpus of the fantastic. The title story leads off the collection with a female narrator working on a project for the School of Surreal Thought and Design (SSTD), a university with no campus but only an administrative office that can only be reached by a circuitous process akin to the opening credit sequence of Get Smart. There is a sense of whimsy in the bizarre nature of the narrator’s project development (scale models of people making scale models of the solar system), and of the interaction with her two schoolmates who are also working on equally strange projects. The style Somerville employs here, and for many of the other stories, is of the detached postmodernist, which feels like a conflation of the writing styles of Kurt Vonnegut and Kelly Link. And it is in this vein that we get tales of a lumberjack urb-
Bull Spec is edited, designed, & published by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn with associate editor Alex Granados and poetry editor Dan Campbell. To learn more or to order back issues (or subscribe!) visit [bullspec.com] or email [email@example.com] with your questions, comments, letters, and suggestions. EDITORIAL: The Year That Was & The Year to Come
s 2010 fades, ephemeral, into our collective rear-view, take a moment to remember the year that was and anticipate the year to come. First, it was an absolutely spectacular year for local speculative fiction, with new books from (among others!) David Drake (The Legions ofFire and What Distant Deeps), Warren Rochelle (The Called), Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades ofMilk and Honey), Mark Van Name (Children No More), and Clay and Susan Griffith (The Greyfriar). Local authors didn’t neglect younger readers either, with books from Stephen Messer (Windblowne) and John Claude Bemis (The WolfTree). In terms of events, 2010 didn’t disappoint, with panels, readings, and signings galore from local authors, and a parade of big names coming to town: Brandon Sanderson, William Gibson, F. Paul Wilson, Scott Westerfeld, and Orson Scott Card. And, of course, the North American Science Fiction Convention, which brought authors Joe Haldeman, Jack McDevitt, and Eric Flint and editors David G. Hartwell, Gardner Dozois, and Stanley Schmidt together under one convention center roof. In short stories, local authors were busy indeed in 2010, with a long list of anthology credits from Dark Faith (Richard Dansky) to Masked (James Maxey) to The Immersion Book ofSF (Jason Erik Lundberg). At the highest-end, John Kessel, Kij Johnson, Natania Barron, Richard Butner, and Gwendolyn Clare all had stories in the field's preeminent print and online magazines. Already the wider SF community is building up an impressive list of favorites for 2010, from authors both wellknown and new. Of these, Nnedi Okorafor’s breathtaking Who Fears Death and Amal El-Mohtar’s many-textured The Honey Month are certainly among the year’s most imaginative and inspiring works. Still, for me there is one book this year which takes the prize for speculative fiction as I most want it to be: Shine: An Anthology ofOptimistic SF edited by Jetse de Vries. Optimistic, imaginative, and engaging, the stories from Shine do not flinch from being grounded in reality, nor do they stray so far into idealism that they wallow in naivety. While staying
true to story and character, they plot a course to vivid, optimistic futures. In my interview with Lou Anders in this issue, I asked him why SF is important. In Paul Kincaid’s review of The Secret History ofFantasy in this issue, he writes about what fantastic literature can do. In the final chapter of Mike Gallagher’s “Closed System” he illustrates that our use of technology must not be without a sense of morality. The stories in Shine exemplify these themes and more, and on top of this they are, quite importantly of course, truly wonderful stories. Editor de Vries and publisher Solaris Books have done a brave, challenging thing, and they’ve done it well. Looking forward to next year, once again we’ll be treated to a growing collection of local speculative fiction. February will bring us David Halperin’s Journal ofa UFO Investigator. Apex-based publisher Peak City Publishing is set to release Apex author Jay Requard’s book The Night in March. July will see Drake’s second book in his The Books of the Elements tetralogy, Out ofthe Waters. And in August, Candlemark & Gleam will publish Natania Barron’s novel Pilgrim ofthe Sky. (And, of course, look for four more issues of Bull Spec!) In the wider world beyond the Triangle, a book which has my attention as we head into 2011 is another SF anthology, Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier. In editor Jonathan Strahan’s introduction, he argues that we seem to have lost sight of the dream of Mars, and he has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities that await if we can pick up where our imaginations seem to have left off. That does seem to me to be a fine place to start—so long as we don't forget where we are. Lastly, thank you for being a part of Bull Spec’s first year. It’s been both more work and more rewarding than I ever imagined.
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn Editor & Publisher, Bull Spec
Document layout created in Scribus with additional text editing performed using OpenOffice.org and additional image editing performed using GIMP and Inkscape. Printed by Publishers Press in Shepherdsville, KY, USA.
Published on Dec 29, 2010
Published on Dec 29, 2010
24 pages from Bull Spec #4, the "Dec-Jan-Feb 2010-2011" issue. The full issue is 68 pages and available both in print and as a pay-what-you-...