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Cover Art “Omens” by Cynthia Sheppard

Reviews 72 Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron

Fiction

reviewed by C.D. Covington 73 he Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry edited by Rose Lemberg reviewed by Brittany Warman

4 “Nahuales” Silvia Moreno-Garcia Illustrated by Alice Holleman 8 “Call Down the Snow” Gwendolyn Clare 10 “Barren Sky” Rich Matrunick Illustrated by Nathan Matrunick 16 “Ancilla” Brenda Cannon Kalt Illustrated by Angi Shearstone 22 “Here Be Dragons” Elizabeth Creith Illustrated by Jason Strutz 42 “Rogue Zombie” Peter Wood and Paul Celmer Illustrated by Gabriel Dunston

Excerpt 28 he Shambling Guide to New York City Mur Laferty (Orbit Books)

Graphic Short

54 he Long Lives of Heroes (part 4 of 4) Jeremy Whitley and Jason Strutz

Poetry

44 “Involuntary” Gale Haut “he Narrow Hours” Gwendolyn Clare “Among Us” Hannah Beresford “Fabrication” F.J. Bergmann “Sparks Between Our Teeth” Amanda C. Davis

Features 37 Happenings/Local Books: 2012-2013 in Covers 53 Supporters 75 Editorial: Incoming & Outgoing

Advertisements FIC Without a Summer BIC BC 7 27 36 41 53

Cynthia Sheppard Illustration Candlemark & Gleam John Hartness Baen Escapist Expo ConTemporal Apex Books and Small Beer Press

Staf Fiction Editor and Publisher Samuel Montgomery-Blinn Poetry Editor Dan Campbell Non-Fiction Editor Alex Ward Art Director Gabriel Dunston

Non-Fiction

46 What Gives Pleasure? An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson by Paul Kincaid 58 Ray Bradbury: An Appreciation by Richard Dansky 62 he Exploding Spaceship: Gerald and Angela Blackwell with Toni Weisskopf on he Book of Knives 64 ConCarolinas Film Festival by Lewis Manalo 66 C.D. Covington on T.C. McCarthy: Reviews of Exogene and Chimera 68 Jason Erik Lundberg on Haruki Murakami: Review of 1Q84 70 he Clockwork Pen: Joseph Giddings Reviews Steampunk

ISSN 2152-5234 is published by Bull Spec / PO Box 13146 / Durham, NC 27709 / United States and is copyright © 2013 CC-BY-NCND-3.0 Bull Spec and 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 CC-BY-SA-2.0 license. Bleeding Cowboys font used by permission. Printed by Publishers Press in Shepherdsville, KY, USA


lady stories. Fo l k t a l e s . T h e tales steer me to the other side of the street, avoiding him. He notices, the corner of his mouth twitches, but I head down the steps towards the

T

he nahual smiles, showing of its yellowed teeth, as it stands under the streetlamp. He wears a black leather jacket, smokes cheap cigarettes, but he is still a nahual. here is the whif of mountains about him and the glint of the coyote in his eyes. I’ve never seen a nahual, but I heard of them through my great-grandmother. Old4

subway. Safe, sitting inside the orange subway car, the smell of the mountains and the matorral fades and I am once more in Mexico City. A boy walks down the aisle selling bubble gum. A teenager bobs his head up and down to the music from his headphones. A man reads a newspaper. Once more nahuales are stories, very old stories, and nothing more. And yet I place three nails in my bag the next morning.


Bull Spec #8

7


Call Down by: Gwendolyn Clare

the

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he irst time I saw him, he was perched on a granite outcrop high above the trail. He cocked his head, scrutinizing us with one shining gray eye as if he were considering our potential edibility. he sharp black curve of his beak contrasted with the cloud of his feathers. “What kind of bird is that?” I asked. He spread his graydappled wings and launched into the air, pale plumage darkening to a silhouette against the sun-bright sky. “Big,” Russell commented, making a visor with his hand to track the bird’s progress. Russell was the trail crew leader and had worked at Katahdin the longest. “Must be an eagle.” An eagle with the coloration of a snowy owl? Russell wouldn’t believe me, so I didn’t bother correcting him. Maybe it was an albino. he other crew members caught up to us, and we all moved on. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the white bird was still watching. __________ I found my irst gray hair that night, dull silver standing out against black. It reminded me of the old women I knew on the rez, their faces lined like weathered rock. I hadn’t seen them since I was a little girl, but still the memories surfaced vivid and poignant. he old women used to tell me stories. I don’t remember the stories themselves as well as I remember how I loved hearing them—there was magic in the voices of the old women. When I was nine, they told me I was diferent from the other children, special, and that’s when my mother took me and left Maine. I’d been back in the area almost three months but avoided visiting the rez, avoided even thinking about it. hat other life happened a long time ago, before I grew up, before I learned what the rest of the world was like. I plucked out the gray hair and threw it away. __________

Snow

He stood tall and sunlit on the ridge, outlined against the washed-out blue of the sky. A massive set of moose antlers rose from his head, and thick gray hair concealed his face in a cumulonimbic shadow. He wore his feathers as a mantle wrapped around broad human shoulders. hat was when I knew his name. he crew moved onward, steady and heedless, but I hung back to watch him. He balanced on the narrow path that connected the two peaks, standing with the taut stillness of a wild animal who might spook if I made a sudden move. But he was no animal. I looked away, and he came down to stand beside me in two blinks of an eye. “Bemola,” I said, keeping my gaze averted. His voice was thin and deep, like wind whistling through a stone hollow. He said, “You know my name.” I couldn’t tell what he thought about that. I swallowed nervously and nodded, hoping that I hadn’t piqued his interest. It rarely proved good to garner such attention—I remembered that much from the stories. “You’re following me.” He shrugged, slow and regal, admitting to the accusation with no hint of embarrassment. Gods aren’t built for shame. “Why?” I insisted. “Because,” he said, “you see me.” __________

He started leaving me feathers. On my bunk, outside my tent when I was camping, tucked under the windshield wiper of my dusty RAV4. Little tufts of soft, lufy down at irst, then broad gray tail feathers and the stif, asymmetric, startlingly long quills from his wings. I found three more gray hairs and plucked them out, threw them away. he feathers I kept. No matter how unwelcome, I knew enough to not toss away a god’s plumage. __________

I couldn’t shake the feeling that the white bird was still watching.

September faded into October. he riot of autumn color dulled and littered the ground, but the clouds stayed high and sparse, and the snow held of. My crew repaired retaining walls along the trails above the tree line for several days, and on the fourth, I saw him atop the Knife Edge. 8

I stored the feathers carefully in a cardboard box. I thought I could wait him out, but he left more every day. My trail crew buddies started watching me strangely, wondering why I picked up feathers wherever I went. I didn’t try to explain.


Bull Spec #8

barren sky by: Rich Matrunick

F

rom the distant view of the parked supply transport, Merah Jan watched the rain dancer stomp across the park, his great feathered mask luttering with the movement. he dancer shook his mighty staf once, twice, thrice; beads jangled in crimson hues, catching the roaring bonire with their warmth. Towering above, the Corinsan skyscrapers gazed upon the igure, their illuminated windows punctuating the antiquity of the ritual. Around the rain dancer went, circling the ire-pit, drawing runes upon the sky. He twirled before the meager crowd of ive, calling the gods to bless the soil. His movements became faster and more frantic, chimes keeping pace with the beat of his bare feet upon the once pristine park. His steps scattered dust, the parched ground crumbling beneath the dance. Merah watched as the passing street traic paid the dancer little mind, speeding by in their mobiles. He watched as the pedestrians pushed onward from point A to point B, noses pressed to the ground. He watched as the rain dancer inally tired, coming to rest heavily upon his staf—when, as night and night before, the gods remained silent. “hey’ve abandoned us, Merah,” Sehran said, handing a box up to him. “We are punished with each passing day.” Merah did not reply, merely glanced towards his old friend. he tan fatigues did not look so proper on Sehran anymore. He had grown lax recently, leaving the guardsman’s uniform wrinkled and dusty, the combat helmet itting over an unkempt mess of hair. Sehran reached his hand towards the building wall and took a small section of the climbing vine in his grasp. He closed his ist, letting it crumble in his hand. he ine powder scattered in the ledgling wind. “hey have faded, as surely as the earth.” Merah brushed the organic remnants from his jacket, motioning for Sehran to hand him the next box. A shout came from the park; Merah’s head snapped toward the sound. A second crowd pushed forward, perhaps thirty all told. Words were exchanged between the hecklers and the rain dancer—back and forth. It gave Merah pause. It was unlikely that an impromptu crowd had assembled so quickly; the greater possibility was that they were organized. “Possible situation at Kirsune park,” Merah said into his wrist comm. “Potential riot; requesting backup.”

Merah dropped to the pavement, his hand slipping down to his holster. Together, he and Sehran approached the scene. “I’ve got the siren queued,” Serhan said. An angry shout lew from the rain dancer. In response, a member of the larger crowd stepped forward, a stout man with charcoal hair and beard. he dancer shook his stick at the man, raised high above his head. Merah’s steps quickened. he bearded man’s hands shot forward, catching the rain dancer in his chest. Time froze for a moment, the rain dancer of balance, falling backwards, legs kicked out awkwardly before him. he lames of the bonire waited patiently. he scene sped up once more, the rain dancer tumbling, crashing into the roaring ire. Merah drew the thumper from his holster as the siren sounded over the city block. Merah squeezed the trigger of his thumper once, the sonic blast knocking back the crowd. He shoved forward, reaching a gloved hand towards the engulfed rain dancer. Sehran’s arm came from behind, wrapping around his shoulders, pulling him back to safety. In silence, they watched as the feathered mask melted away in the ire.

“The warehouse again? More food stolen?” “No, not that... ...A riot and a murder... ...The murder of a rain dancer.”

Merah quietly opened the door to his daughters’ bedroom. Tahire, twelve, and Hanessah, eight, slept soundlessly in their beds. Each daughter was an image of their mother, sporting the signature dark curly hair of the Corinsan natives. Merah smiled to himself, backing out as silently as he had entered, closing the door behind him. He crept down the hall towards his own bedroom, inding the door ajar but his wife fast asleep. He let his helmet plunk to the bedroom loor, the sound much louder than he anticipated. His wife, now stirred, turned her tired eyes up towards him. “You’re late,” Fila said—a near weightless comment. In the dark she was but a silhouette, lit by the dim glow of the waiting nightlight. Merah leaned over to kiss her forehead, pushing her curly hair back behind her ear. “here was trouble,” he said, rising, continuing to strip down. He shook of his dusty uniform, letting it join the combat helmet upon the loor. “he warehouse again? More food stolen?” “No, not that.” Naked, Merah slid under the covers, his wife turning to press against him. “A riot and a murder.” He 11


Ancilla

Home. I’m going home. “Excuse me… Sorry…” Benedicta Rojas elbowed through the crowd in the mess hall and sat down to eat her inal dinner in the Base. Home. Across the table, Gus returned the smiles people gave her, although she blinked away tears. he two women lifting for Earth and the four staf newly arrived on Mars had the table of honor, and the rest of the staf crowded in. he newbie sitting next to Benedicta said, “Bennie, what do you want to do most when you get to Earth?” Get my life back. No. Something simpler. Benedicta traced a pattern in the ever-present layer of dust on the table and examined the orange spot on her dark ingertip. “Sit on a cushion that’s not inlated.” he others roared; inlatable plastic furniture was standard issue at Peace International Research Station. “Gus?” he continued. he older woman opened her mouth once, but nothing came out. She sipped water and tried again. “God willing, I’m never leaving the ground.” More laughter. he brilliant Dr. Augusta Petitjean and the obscure Sr. Benedicta Rojas had arrived on Mars due to a combination of New Vatican and United Nations politics that Gus refused to talk about. Her reluctance to ly had not factored into the negotiations, however; she served where she was sent. Home. Almost home. Benedicta’s attention wandered from the conversation. Five months from now she would take of her Martian life and put on her interrupted Earthly one. What would it feel like to work on her thesis again? To trace the low of style in French rose windows from valley to valley? She dug into the chicken loaf. here was no way to know.

by: Brenda Cannon Kalt

A puf of medicinal air returned Benedicta’s thoughts to the moment. A man was entering the mess hall from the inirmary. “I’m sorry I’m late.” PJ Delong, operations manager for the Base, closed the inirmary door behind him and squeezed through the crowd to the farewell table. His expression was somber, and conversation quieted. Standing beside Gus, PJ faced the crowd and tapped on the plastic tabletop. “My fellow Martians”—someone humphed—“we’ve done very well on life support this term. Exceptionally well. hank you all for your willingness to make do and for your Spartan lifestyles.” More grumbles. For the last twenty-six months the operations manager had squeezed every spare particle of life support from the staf allowances, to no visible purpose except impressing the budget analysts at the United Nations Special Initiative for Mars. Now what? Benedicta shook her head and relaxed. She would be gone. PJ extended a hand toward the inirmary. “First, I’d like a round of applause for Professor Pinkerton. He’s sufered more than he or anyone else expected, and he’s kept his research going.” Applause rose, and the group chanted “Pin-kie, Pin-kie.” Benedicta joined in. I did part of that. George Nigel Pinkerton had come from the University of Auckland with a two-term contract and with multiple concessions from UNSIM on the equipment and life support his height required. On Earth he passed the medical exams, but nothing there could simulate the day-in, day-out exposure to ultraine Martian dust that the Base staf lived with. Within months of arriving he was too bloated to wear his surface suit. By the end of his irst term he could stand for only a few minutes at a time. In his second term Benedicta served as his surface presence, and

“Bennie, what do you want to do most when you get to Earth?”

16


Bull Spec #8 Gus coaxed the inlammation out of his body. His bloat subsided, and UNSIM granted him a third term to complete his research. As the new term approached, however, handling the cores that Benedicta drilled brought his symptoms back. He had lived in the Base’s minuscule inirmary for—Benedicta calculated—two and a half months. He was probably listening to the celebration through the walls. Poor Pinkie. As the chanting subsided, PJ held up a hand for silence. “Nobody on Earth understands opportunity the way we do. We live our lives by the Xinhua. When it comes, it comes; when it goes, it goes. We live our lives for the next twenty-six months by the decisions we made while it was here.” He cleared his throat. “Gus has been consulting regularly with the medical staf on Earth, and early this morning they reached a consensus. Professor Pinkerton will lift.” A pin could have dropped. For a moment Benedicta imagined she could hear the geologist’s strained breathing. “Poor Pinkie,” someone said. “I gave him the news at lunch, and I talked to him again just now. He’s extremely disappointed, of course, but he understands the situation. For his health and for the safety of the Base, this is the only course of action.” Conversation erupted, and PJ tapped the table. “his unfortunate situation gives us a windfall. An opportunity. “I’ve been asking for another person for months, and UNSIM refused. We would have gone into our reserves. As soon as Gus told me about Pinkie, I asked again. his time they agreed, and the contracts were signed on Earth this afternoon.” He paused. “he new spot goes to Sister Augusta Mathilde Petitjean, M.D.” He looked down at the tall, quiet woman. “People, we’re going to have a real, live doctor for another term.” People stood and applauded. Someone shouted, “Anything to stay on the ground!” and Gus laughed. Benedicta closed her eyes. Five months in the Xinhua with a disappointed, frustrated scientist instead of Gus… But when she stepped of the shuttle at Old Salton Seabed, she would never have to think about Mars again.

She leaned across the table and squeezed Gus’s hand. “I’ll miss you. Godspeed in all.” Gus did not respond. Benedicta leaned forward again, but before she could speak she heard PJ’s voice. “Don’t worry, Bennie. We’ll ind lots of things for you to do.” he sentence did not register for a moment. hen Benedicta looked up at PJ and back at Gus. Tears inally escaped the corners of the older nun’s eyes. “I’m sorry. he Order insisted. It was the only way.” Benedicta shoved back her chair and stood up. A few people applauded, but she did not acknowledge them. Without a word she pushed through the crowd to the door.

Beyond the rectangle of light from the mess hall’s window, Benedicta forced herself to stop and breathe. For all practical purposes, she was invisible. he multistory walls of the Base—two sides of a box canyon that narrowed to a point— blocked all but a few degrees of sky. he perpetual condensation under the plexiglass roof difused starlight, and moonlight was a small fraction of that on Earth. Glow-in-the-dark strips marked hazards; lights, even LEDs, took too much power. Benedicta listened. Behind her were the sounds of the party; elsewhere there were only faint hums and intermittent clicks from the machinery. A cold drop of water from the roof landed on her cheek. Rain. Home. Rain. She had to go somewhere, soon. Somewhere where she could pretend for a few minutes that this hadn’t happened, that she was still going home. Some place to repair her feelings in privacy, smoothing out the wrinkles and shoring up the weak spots until the shell, at least, glistened again, and she could work. he narrow valley ofered few choices. Her berth? It was full of bundles she now needed to unpack, and she would hear the other women. One of the labs? he owners of the experiments in progress would be irate if she disturbed something. he nooks that couples slipped into but no one talked about? She had never gone, and going now felt like defeat.

“Sit on a cushion that’s not inflated.”

17


Here Be Dragons by: Elizabeth Creith

We all had rifles, but none of us wanted to shoot if we could help it. It attracts attention.

Illustrations by Jason Strutz 22


28


his pre-publication excerpt of he Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Laferty is courtesy of Orbit Books. Cover art by Jamie McKelvie. All rights reserved.

Bull Spec #8

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he bookstore was sandwiched between a dry cleaner’s and a shifty-looking accounting oice. Mannegishi’s Tricks wasn’t in the guidebook, but Zoë Norris knew enough about guide-books to know they often missed the best places. his clearly was not one of those places. he store was, to put it bluntly, ilthy. It reminded Zoë of an abandoned mechanic’s garage, with grime and grease coating the walls and bookshelves. She pulled her arms in to avoid brushing against anything. Long strips of paint dotted with mold peeled away from the walls as if they could no longer stand to adhere to such ilth. Zoë couldn’t blame them. She felt a bizarre desire to wave to them as they bobbed lazily to herald her passing. Her shoes stuck slightly to the loor, making her trek through the store louder than she would have liked. She always enjoyed looking at cities—even her hometown—through the eyes of a tourist. She owned guidebooks of every city she had visited and used them extensively. It made her usual urban exploration feel more thorough. It also allowed her to look at the competition, or it had when she’d worked in travel book publishing. he store didn’t win her over with its stock, either. She’d never heard of most of the books; they had titles like How to Make Love, Marry, Devour, and Inherit in Eight Weeks in the Romance section and When Your Hound from Hell Outgrows His House—and Yours in the Pets section. She picked the one about hounds and opened it to Chapter Four: “he Augean Stables: How to Pooper-Scoop Dung hat Could Drown a Terrier.” She frowned. So, they’re really assuming your dog gets bigger than a house? It’s not tongue‑in‑cheek? If this is humor, it’s failing. Despite the humorous title, the front cover had a frightening drawing of a hulking white beast with red eyes. he cover was growing uncomfortably warm, and the leather had a sticky, alien feeling, not like cow or even snake leather. She switched the book to her left hand and wiped her right on her beige sweater. She immediately regretted it. “One sweater ruined,” she muttered, looking at the grainy black smear. “What is this stuf ?” he cashier’s desk faced the door from the back of the store, and was stafed by an unsmiling teen girl in a dirty gray sundress. She had olive skin and big round eyes, and her head had the fuzz of the somewhat-recently shaved. Piercings dotted her face at her nose, eyebrow, lip, and cheek, and all the way up her ears. Despite her slouchy body language, she watched Zoë with a bright, sharp gaze that looked almost hungry. Beside the desk was a bulletin board, blocked by a pudgy man hanging a lyer. He wore a T-shirt and jeans and looked to be in his mid-thirties. He looked completely out of place in this store; that is, he was clean. “Can I help you?” the girl asked as Zoë approached the counter. “Uh, you have a very interesting shop here,” Zoë said, smiling. She put the hound book on the counter and tried not to grimace as it stuck to her hand briely. “How much is this one?” he clerk didn’t return her smile. “We cater to a speciic clientele.” “OK...but how much is the book?” Zoë asked again. “It’s not for sale. It’s a collectible.” Zoë became aware of the man at the bulletin board turning and watching her. She began to sweat a little bit. Jesus, calm down. Not everyone is out to get you. “So it’s not for sale, or it’s a collectible. Which one?” he girl reached over and took the book. “It’s not for sale to you, only to collectors.” “How do you know I don’t collect dog books?” Zoë asked, bristling. “And what does it matter? All I wanted to know was how much it costs. Do you care where it goes as long as it’s paid for?” 29


he Shambling Guide to New York City—Mur Laferty “Are you a collector of rare books catering to the owners of...exotic pets?” the man interrupted, smiling. His voice was pleasant and mild, and she relaxed a little, despite his patronizing words. “Excuse me for butting in, but I know the owner of this shop and she considers these books her treasure. She is very particular about where they go when they leave her care.” “Why should she...” Zoë trailed of when she got a closer look at the bulletin board to the man’s left. Several lyers stood out, many with phone numbers ripped from the bottom. One, advertising an exorcism service specializing in elemental demons, looked burned in a couple of places. he lyer that had caught her eye was pink, and the one the man had just secured with a thumbtack.

Underground Publishing

LOOKING FOR WRITERS Underground Publishing is a new company writing travel guides for people like you! Since we’re writing for people like you, we need people like you to write for us. Pluses: Experience in writing, publishing, or editing (in this life or any other), and knowledge of New York City. Minuses: A life span shorter than an editorial cycle (in this case, nine months). Call 212.555.1666 for more information or e-mail rand@undergroundpub.com for more information

“Oh, hell yes,” said Zoë, and with the weird, dirty hound book forgotten, she pulled a battered notebook from her satchel. She needed a job. She was refusing to adhere to the stereotype of running home to New York, admitting failure at her attempts to leave her hometown. Her goal was a simple oice job. She wasn’t waiting for her big break on Broadway and looking to wait tables or take on a lealet-passing, taco-suit-wearing street-nuisance job in the meantime. Oice job. Simple. Uncomplicated. As she scribbled down the information, the man looked her up and down and said, “Ah, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea for you to pursue.” Zoë looked up sharply. “What are you talking about? First I can’t buy the book, now I can’t apply for a job? I know you guys have some sort of weird vibe going on, ‘We’re so goth and special, let’s freak out the normals.’ But for a business that caters to, you know, customers, you’re certainly not welcoming.” “I just think that particular business may be looking for someone with experience you may not have,” he said, his voice level and diplomatic. He held his hands out, placating her. “But you don’t even know me. You don’t know my qualiications. I just left Misconceptions Publishing in Raleigh. You heard of them?” She hated name-dropping her old employer—she would have preferred to forget it entirely—but the second-biggest travel book publisher in the USA was her strongest credential in the job hunt. he man shifted his weight and touched his chin. “Really. What did you do for them?” Zoë stood a little taller. “Head researcher and writer. I wrote most of Raleigh Misconceptions, and was picked to head the project Tallahassee Misconceptions.” He smiled a bit. “Impressive. But you do know Tallahassee is south of North Carolina, right? You went in the wrong direction entirely.” Zoë clenched her jaw. “I was laid of. It wasn’t due to job performance. I took my severance and came back home to the city.” he man rubbed his smooth, pudgy cheek. “What happened to cause the layof ? I thought Misconceptions was doing well.” Zoë felt her cheeks get hot. Her boss, Godfrey, had happened. hen Godfrey’s wife—whom he had failed 30


Bull Spec #8 to mention until Zoë was well and truly in “other woman” territory—had happened. She swallowed. “Economy. You know how it goes.” He stepped back and leaned against the wall, clearly not minding the cracked and peeling paint that broke of and stuck to his shirt. “hose are good credentials. However, you’re still probably not what they’re looking for.” Zoë looked at her notebook and continued writing. “Luckily it’s not your decision, is it?” “Actually, it is.” She groaned and looked back up at him. “All right. Who are you?” He extended his hand. “Phillip Rand. Owner, president, and CEO of Underground Publishing.” She looked at his hand for a moment and shook it, her small ingers briely engulfed in his grip. It was a cool handshake, but strong. “Zoë Norris. And why, Mr. Phillip Rand, will you not let me even apply?” “Well, Miss Zoë Norris, I don’t think you’d it in with the staf. And itting in with the staf is key to this company’s success.” A vision of future months dressed as a dancing cell phone on the wintry streets pummeled Zoë’s psyche. She leaned forward in desperation. She was short, and used to looking up at people, but he was over six feet, and she was forced to crane her neck to look up at him. “Mr. Rand. How many other people experienced in researching and writing travel guides do you have with you?” He considered for a moment. “With that speciic qualiication? I actually have none.” “So if you have a full staf of people who it into some kind of mystery mold, but don’t actually have experience writing travel books, how good do you think your books are going to be? You sound like you’re a kid trying to ill a club, not a working publishing company. You need a managing editor with experience to supervise your writers and researchers. I’m smart, hardworking, creative, and a hell of a lot of fun in the times I’m not blatantly begging for a job—obviously you’ll have to just take my word on that. I haven’t found a work environment I don’t it in with. I don’t care if Underground Publishing is catering to eastern Europeans, or transsexuals, or Eskimos, or even Republicans. Just because I don’t it in doesn’t mean I can’t be accepting as long as they accept me. Just give me a chance.” Phillip Rand was unmoved. “Trust me. You would not it in. You’re not our type.” She inally delated and sighed. “Isn’t this illegal?” He actually had the audacity to laugh at that. “I’m not discriminating based on your gender or race or religion.” “hen what are you basing it on?” He licked his lips and looked at her again, studying her. “Call it a gut reaction.” She delated. “Oh well. It was worth a try. Have a good day.” On her way out, she ran through her options: there were the few publishing companies she hadn’t yet applied to, the jobs that she had recently thought beneath her that she’d gladly take at this point. She paused a moment in the SelfHelp section to see if anything there could help her better herself. She glanced at the covers for Reborn and Loving It, Second Life: Not Just on the Internet, and Get the Salary You Deserve! Negotiating Hell Notes in a Time of Economic Downturn. Nothing she could relate to, so she trudged out the door, contemplating a long bath when she got back to her apartment. Better than unpacking more boxes. After the grimy door shut behind her, Zoë decided she had earned a tall caloric cafeine bomb to soothe her ego. She wasn’t sure what she’d done to deserve this, but it didn’t take much to make her leap for the comfort treats these days—which reminded her, she needed to recycle some wine bottles.

<EXCERPT FROM>

The Shambling Guide to New York City THEATER DISTRICT: Shops -------Mannegishi’s Tricks is the oldest bookstore in the Theater District. Established 1834 by Akilina, nicknamed “The Drakon Lady,” after she immigrated from Russia, the store has a stock that is lovingly picked from collections all over the world. Currently managed by Akilina’s greatgrandaughter, Anastasiya, the store continues to offer some of the best inds for any book collector. Anastasiya upholds the old dragon lady’s practice of knowing just which book should go to which

customer, and refuses to sell a book to the “wrong” person. Don’t try to argue with her; the drakon’s teeth remain sharp. Mannegishi’s Tricks is one of the few shops that deliberately maintain a squalid appearance—dingy, smelly, with a strong “leave now” aura—in order to repel unwanted customers. In nearly 180 years, Akilina and her descendants have sold only three books to humans. She refuses to say to whom. 31


he Shambling Guide to New York City—Mur Laferty

O

ctober seemed completely unaware that she was having a shit day. he crisp weather and the blue sky couldn’t help but cheer Zoë a little bit. She had simply loved coming home. Full of people and secrets, cities were three-dimensional, rising high in the sky and creating labyrinthine tunnels underground. She’d come from the suburbs of the Research Triangle in North Carolina, a sterile, impotent metropolitan area of three million people stretched over several counties. hat was not a city. She’d moved with her parents when she was in grade school, but nowhere had ever felt like home the way the city did. She relected she should have returned when she got out of school, but she got a job traveling for a magazine, and then got the job in Raleigh with Misconceptions and decided that was worth it. After that ended, it seemed obvious that there was nowhere else to go except home. Ever since she was a child, she had felt cities, especially New York, were alive. Cities had a heartbeat. When she wasn’t in a city, she felt soulless, with an ever-present itch telling her something was missing. New York was a city. Zoë prided herself in her ability to seek out the perfect hidden gems in a city. She fancied herself an urban explorer of a sort, and desperately avoided chain restaurants and stores. She enjoyed getting to know cities as if they were friends; you visited the Targets of your acquaintances, but the mom-and-pop stores of your friends. Her ifteen or so years out of New York had seen the city change a lot, both from time and from 9/11. She loved wandering the streets, getting to know it again. So what if she’d left Raleigh in shame and now counted on one hand the unemployed weeks she had left in her savings account before she had to give up and move out? She was where she’d always wanted to be. When she spied the little café a few doors down from the bookstore, she knew where she wanted to be right then: Bakery Under Starlight. It was perfectly placed, facing south on Fifty-First Street so that the fading afternoon sun of early autumn cut through the trees and into the café. he café had orange-red walls with antique, mismatched chairs and tables. Behind the counter a cappuccino machine hissed. Racks of bread and pastries assaulted Zoë’s nose, and she took an appreciative whif of freshly baked goodies. “Suck it, Starbucks,” she muttered as she got in line. he only people Zoë saw working the shop were a mountain of a man whose baker’s jacket said “Carl” and a petite woman who shouted obscenities at the customers when their cofees were ready. Zoë stood in line behind a fat man with sallow skin and limp brown hair. He wore a very nicely tailored pinstripe suit, but it was ill-itting, straining at the buttons and baggy in the shoulders. She felt a little sorry for the suit, thinking that if it had had any say in the matter, it would not have chosen this man to ill it. Carl greeted the customer by name. “’Morning, John, you’re looking well.” John smiled and winked at Carl. “I found a new club the other night. hings are looking up.” “Oh really? I’d check it out, but, you know.” Carl gestured widely, encompassing the café, and John nodded as if he understood. he John person got his cofee and scone—“Latte for the son of a demon and a whore!” the small woman cried out in accented English—and nodded again to Carl before taking a table against the wall. Zoë nodded to the barista as she approached the counter. “Doesn’t that drive away customers?” she asked Carl. 32


Bull Spec #8 Carl shrugged. “Tenagne’s Ethiopian,” he said, as if that explained it. “hat’s a little stereotypical,” Zoë said. Carl glanced at Tenagne, who steamed milk with her back to him. “Not for her family, which is pretty large. Don’t worry, she only yells obscenities at people she likes. You should be safe. Now what can we get you?” Zoë blushed and gave her order—plain cofee and a croissant—and then snagged the only free table by a window, which happened to be along the wall next to John’s. On the wall above her hung another corkboard with missing-cat notices and job postings. She saw the Underground Publishing lyer, and snatched the whole thing of. As she contemplated the job description again, she caught John staring at her. She tried to ignore him, reading the lyer a couple of times, looking for any clue that would lead her to what Underground Publishing wanted, but inding nothing. When she looked up, the man was still staring at her. She sighed. “Do you have a problem?” He did not linch at the obvious irritation in her voice, but instead put down his cofee and wiped his mouth, a silver bracelet peeking from inside his cuf. Despite his lugubrious appearance, he sat up straight and met her eyes with no sense of shyness. He gestured toward the lyer. “I’m not sure if that’s a good idea for you to pursue.” Zoë pursed her lips. “So I’ve heard. Is there a campaign against me? You don’t even know me. Neither does that Phillip guy.” John raised an eyebrow at her. “You know Phil?” She nodded. “I just met Phillip Rand at that nasty bookstore down the street, and he told me the same thing. So what is the problem? Why are you people following me to make sure I don’t apply? Why do you fucking care?” he fat man considered her for a moment, smiling. “Paranoid, and quick to anger. hat’s very attractive.” He didn’t sound sarcastic, and his tone made her squirm slightly inside. “To answer your question, Phil is my boss. Our oice is nearby. We’re hanging lyers in area businesses. Your encountering both of us is nothing but a happy coincidence.” He ignored her snort of derision. “And about your qualiications, Phil is looking for someone with experience you may not have,” he said, seeming to choose his words carefully. Zoë sighed. “Why not? I’ve got experience, I’m a native, I’m an excellent researcher, surely I’m worth an interview at least.” He sipped at his cofee again, sizing her up over the mug’s rim. His muddy brown eyes weren’t undressing her, but she still had the uncomfortable feeling that she was a slab of beef and John was a butcher, deciding where to make the irst cut. “You’re still probably not what they’re looking for.” “So what do you do? What makes you so perfect for the job?” He extended his hand. “John Dickens. Public relations, Underground Publishing.” She shook it, his warm hand strangely dainty in her own. “Zoë Norris.” “Well, I’m not in editorial; it’s not my decision. Go ahead and apply. Who knows? Phil might change his mind and take a liking to you. You’re...appealing.” Zoë didn’t like the way he said that. Did she want to work with this asshole? “hanks for the advice, I guess.” She sat at her table and pushed her chair pointedly to put her back to John. She got out her BlackBerry and pulled up the template for her standard job query. She made some pertinent changes, attached her résumé, double-checked for mistakes, and then sent it to Phil’s e-mail address as given on the sheet. She sat back and relaxed. Despite the comments to the contrary, she felt good about this one. Of course, she’d felt good about all the jobs she’d applied for; she’d been convinced that every publishing house in the city had at least one open job whose description read so perfectly the ad might as well have said, “WANTED: hirtysomething woman from Raleigh, NC, petite, heartbroken, leeing a scandal at a publishing company. Names starting with ‘Z’ preferred.” But she had been overqualiied for one, under-qualiied for another, and too laid-back for a third—although she was pretty sure her lack of any structured religion was the real reason, even though by law they couldn’t say that. hat was her worry about Underground Publishing: that it was focused toward Jews or Christians or bisexuals or people who had lived through the heartbreak of psoriasis or some other group that she didn’t belong to. But why were John and Phil so secretive? Zoë iddled with her phone, ignoring the other patrons, especially the man behind her. She went through news feeds, reading her favorite websites, checking in at the weirder science news sites just for fun, and then checked publishing blogs. She was tsking at another book deal for another celebrity who’d made a name for herself by doing drugs and sleeping with producers and now felt qualiied to write, when she realized that an old Kool & the Gang song was playing very loudly. No, Carl hadn’t cranked the volume. Instead, everyone in the café had stopped talking. Zoë looked up and saw a dirty, wide-eyed woman standing in the middle of the café. She looked to be older, like seventy, and had white hair and Asian features. She wore a pink shawl, a grimy T-shirt that said “I 8 NY” over a silhouette of Godzilla, and dirty jeans. Out of place on her ragged form was a pair of very high-quality black combat boots. She pirouetted slowly and stared at the patrons in the café. he patrons stared back. “Well, this should be interesting,” John whispered behind her. 33


he Shambling Guide to New York City—Mur Laferty Zoë frowned. he tension in the café was palpable; there was none of the usual discomfort or pointed ignoring reactions New Yorkers did when faced with something or someone they didn’t want to deal with. he people in the café seemed completely terriied of the old woman, even though her thick braided hair swinging at her hip was the strongest-looking thing about her. Zoë felt a sudden kinship with this woman, feeling outcast and friendless as she had been. She stood up and glanced around the cofee shop. Even Carl looked petriied. No one moved to talk to the woman, to take her order, or to usher her out. Zoë couldn’t take the tension any more, so she turned on what she had learned of Southern charm. She heard a small gasp behind her as she approached the woman. “Hi, honey, can I help you? Are you meeting a friend, or do you need a cup of cofee?” he woman ixed her wide brown eyes on Zoë and seemed to think for a moment. “You want to buy Granny Good Mae a cup of cofee?” Her accent was lat and diicult to place, almost the generic American accent Hollywood actors had. Zoë shrugged. “Sure, why not?” “I always knew you were a good one,” she said, glaring at Carl, who blanched, his dark skin turning ashy. “I don’t do cofee. I drink tea.” “Sure.” Zoë walked to the counter. She waved her hand in front of Carl’s face. “It’s OK, she won’t bite. Just get her some hot tea. I’ll pay for it and get her out of here.” “hat’s Granny Good Mae,”Carl whispered, but he moved to ill a to-go cup with hot water.“She’s not welcome here.” Zoë shook her head in amazement. “She’s not hurting anyone. What’s your problem?” “You both batshit crazy,” Tenagne said to Zoë, tossing Carl a tea bag. “Her ’cause she talk to the air, and you ’cause you listen to her.” “Yeah, whatever,” Zoë said. She paid Carl for the tea. he customers still watched Granny Good Mae, who looked them over as if she were a general surveying the enemy. Neither seemed willing to make the irst strike. Zoë walked up to the old woman and put her hand on her elbow. “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m not really sure why they don’t want you here, but I think it might be best if you go. Here’s your tea.” “I got what I came here for,” Granny Good Mae said, turning to leave. “Does this café have especially good tea?” Zoë asked, opening the door for the woman. Granny Good Mae looked at her, startled. “What? No, the tea here is garbage tea. Comes in bags. Like garbage. And goldish crackers. I came here to see how you’ve grown up.” She tossed the full cup of tea into a garbage can on the street. “And you grew up real nice.” Bemused, Zoë said, “Uh, OK. I’m Zoë. Nice to meet you.” “Life! Life! his city needs life!” Granny Good Mae cackled as if she’d made a good joke, then her face fell. “Remember, Zoë-Life, watch your back. Some people in this city will eat you right up.” Before Zoë could ask anything more, the old woman turned and wandered down the street, laughing again about “Zoë-Life.” Zoë shrugged and went back into the café. A couple of the patrons shot her sidelong glances, but the room had returned to its former light and friendly atmosphere. “You’re really not looking to make friends, are you?” John asked as she sat down. “I don’t know what the problem is. She’s just a harmless old woman. She didn’t even shout obscenities or urinate on the wall,” Zoë said, not looking at him and taking her phone out of her pocket. he light on top was blinking, and she switched it on to read her messages. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, but that’s not your fault,” John said. He retrieved his own mobile phone and started typing something on the screen. “Holy crap,” Zoë said, as she read her messages. She had already gotten a reply from Underground Publishing. She read the e-mail quickly. She inally looked at John, a triumphant smile on her face. “Phil wants to talk to me. I’ve got an interview.” John nodded absently, checking his own phone. “Yeah, but don’t worry. We have time for another cup of cofee. You want a reill on me?” Zoë blinked at him, her triumph melting into a feeling of stupidity. “Uh, what?” “Didn’t you read your e-mail? Phil wants to see you at four o’clock. It’s three ifteen now.” Zoë gasped and called up the e-mail again. here it was, four o’clock. She looked down at herself. She wore her favorite (read: old) beige sweater, which now had a grimy streak across the front from that foul bookstore. Underneath that she wore an old Pearl Jam T-shirt with an ink stain on the shoulder and a hole by the neck seam. Jeans, purple Chuck Taylor sneakers, and her vintage denim jacket completed her wardrobe. She hadn’t even washed her hair that morning. “I’m not dressed for an interview.” John shrugged. “Phil is likely trying to catch you of guard. I told you, you won’t it in with us. He’s going to try to ind any reason not to hire you. Here’s a hint: Phil likes conidence.” 34


Bull Spec #8 Zoë narrowed her eyes. “Why are you helping me? You clearly didn’t want me to get the job ten minutes ago.” John’s eyes widened and he shook his head. “Oh no, I’d like nothing more than to work with you. You seem intelligent and willing to take risks. You’re also not shy. I hate shy women.” Zoë frowned, but remained silent. “I’m just saying, I agree with Phil: you won’t it in. Once you learn more about the job, you probably won’t even want it.” Zoë sat back. “We’ll see. And yes, I will take that cofee.” Her heart pounded in anticipation of her interview. “But make it decaf.” —————————— Zoë had demanded John keep silent as she frantically searched the Web on her phone, looking for any information on Underground Publishing. She pulled up a page with a slate-gray background saying “Under Construction,” complete with a circa-1997 animated gif of a little stick man in a yellow hard hat digging the same shovelful of pixelated dirt over and over. She groaned. Well, there’s a place to start with suggestions for the company. It gave her nothing to go on, though. She began to make notes about what the website needed, suring to other publishing sites to see what common elements they contained. She bit her lip and typed in the URL for Misconceptions Publishing. Godfrey’s trim, bearded face smiled at her from the home page, and she hit the back button and closed her eyes. She knew what was on its site. She’d designed the damn thing back when Misconceptions was a little company with a skeleton crew. It had been her idea to put his face on the front page, giving the company a igurehead, someone to trust. Just as I trusted him. She took a deep breath and then a big gulp of her cofee. Now was deinitely not the time to think about Godfrey. She frowned, and then rooted around in her leather satchel. She dug out a little silver MINI Cooper (a gift from Godfrey, its once-comforting weight now feeling like a heavy reminder) and put it aside, irmly telling herself to stop pining like a brokenhearted teen. After a little more rooting through papers and two novels, she found what she was looking for: one copy of Raleigh Misconceptions, the book she’d edited (not to mention that the entire Misconceptions line was her baby). She put the little car back in her satchel and then looked at her watch. “How long does it take to get to Underground Publishing?” she asked John, who was reading the Times. “Should we catch a cab?” “Nah. It’s around the corner,” John said, putting his newspaper into his briefcase. Zoë raised her eyebrows. “A publishing company in the heater District?” He grinned. “Phil rented and refurbished an old of-Broadway theater and put a publishing company there. But working in an old theater won’t be the weirdest thing you encounter today, I promise.” Zoë shrugged. “All right, then. Lead on.” She bused her table, dropping the dishes at the counter. Carl stopped her before she could go, his hand touching her wrist lightly. “Listen, Zoë, isn’t it?” She nodded. “If you’re a friend of John’s, then I’ll warn you, we’ve had...trouble with Granny Good Mae in the past. I’ll serve anyone who can pay, and sometimes if they can’t. But Mae is a diferent story.” Zoë frowned. “I still don’t see what’s so harmful about the old woman.” “I hope you never have to know,” he said. He stuck his hand out. “Water under the bridge?” She shook it, surprised. “Sure, I guess.” She followed John into the afternoon sunlight, and he led her around the corner and down an alley. John proudly waved his hand down a rickety staircase that led to a below-street-level theater. “And here we are.” he doorway had no signage, and had a board nailed across it, even though it opened inward. Zoë nodded calmly, looking around for possible exits. “So you’re bringing me here to kill me.” John’s eyes widened. “Oh, goodness no. I’m pretty sure in a one-on-one match, you’d end up on top, easy.” Zoë gripped her satchel and planted her feet, but John made no aggressive moves toward her. She hadn’t studied martial arts in a couple of years, but she still remembered the basics. “So you just expect me to go into a condemned theater with a guy who I just met, who’s been checking me out for the last hour?” she asked. John grinned ruefully. “I can’t help my nature, Zoë. And you’re the one who wanted the job, remember?” He had her there. She pointed down the stairwell. “You go irst.” John shrugged. “Sure.” She watched him walk all the way down the stairs and reach under the board to push the door open. “Now just duck under the board, and we’re in.” Zoë swallowed hard, curious despite her fear. She pulled out her phone to check if she still had cell service, and dialed 91 and kept her inger over the 1. She followed John down the stairs and, saying a prayer to whatever god might be listening in a disused alley near Fifty-First Street, she slipped under the board and followed John into the dark hallway. he Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Laferty is forthcoming from Orbit Books and Hachette Audio, May 28, 2013.

35


THE

ANN D N SECO

UAL

RETURNS TO DURHAM, NC

Be united with fans of videogames, tabletop games, science ction, fantasy, comics, music and more in a celebration of everything great in escapism. The Expo is for the escapist in all of us.

TOURNAMENTS


T

he other zombies did not like Johansen. He didn’t moan. He didn’t like to eat brains. Instead of doing the usual zombie “leg-drag and stagger,” Johansen skipped merrily among the hordes of the walking dead. “Johansen, you really got to get with the program,” said the head zombie, an ex-call center manager named Perkins. “Why the hell do we moan? We can speak,” said Johansen. “Damn it. We’re zombies. We terrorize the living.” Johansen shrugged. He felt his rotting arm almost slip out of the socket. “Seems like a waste of time.” He pulled a quarter from his pocket and put it in a parking meter that was about to expire. Had it really only been a year since he had worked a job amongst the living giving out parking tickets? Perkins rolled his eyes, taking care of course to keep them from popping out of his head. “You’re sick.” A young woman stepped out of an apartment building. She saw the two zombies and shrieked.

Perkins slipped into character. He shuled towards her, moaning. “Brains. Must have brains.” he woman jumped back inside and slammed the door. “Now, Chief, what did that little show accomplish?” asked Johansen. Before Perkins could respond, Johansen heard a loud bang. Bits of brick and cement sprayed in the air from the wall where the bullet hit. “hat was too close,” said Perkins. He lurched around the corner out of range of the sniper. Johansen saw the woman stick her head out of the upper story window. She was reloading a bolt action rile. damned zombies!” “Take that, you____ ______ Later inside their safe house, the basement of the condemned YMCA, Perkins leaned against the wall. “Just once I’d like to shoot back at the bastards.”

“But you can’t because of your pointless zombie code,” mocked Johansen. “Jeez, Johansen, you’re a danger to all of us with your good deeds. You just don’t seem to get it. We’re going to have to take you out.” “You mean kill me? But I’m already dead!” and Johansen laughed so heartily at his own joke that his rotted heart lipped out of his chest. He was still chuckling when he brushed of the dirt and sloshed it back into place. “You think that’s funny, Johansen? Well, what we’ll do to you is worse, far worse than death.” Perkins blew a small silver dog whistle. An annoyed vzombie looked up from a poker game. “Now, chief ? We’re in the middle of a game.” “Now!” barked Perkins. he zombie threw down


his cards. “And I had a lush, too. hanks, Johansen.” He slammed his chair against the table and gestured for the other card players to get up. he Zombies dutifully closed in around Johansen. ————— Alone in the cornield where the zombie goons had abandoned him, Johansen gazed at the distant stars and snickered. Being by himself was better than being with the zombies. He could accept this punishment. He saw lickering lights approaching. It was a crowd carrying torches. A bearded man with long matted hair held out his rotting hand. He wore a string of beads that swung back and forth over a lowery tie-dyed t-shirt. he pungent, deadpossum smell of gangrene illed the

air. “Dude, welcome. Come with us, sit around the ire. We will meditate.” Johansen frowned. “Meditate?” “Sure, dude. hen we will sing all four hundred verses of Kumbaya. Let’s move it, dude. C’mon.” “I always hated that song,” muttered Johansen. “Hey man, get with the program. Let’s go.” he hippie zombie motioned to the others, who formed a tight circle around Johansen. he zombie hippies broke into a rousing chorus of “Age of Aquarius” while they skipped to the campire. As Johansen lumbered behind, he yearned for the decaying city and his roaming nights of freedom as an outcast zombie. And he realized there were in fact fates far worse than death.

igh Peter Wood is an attorney in Rale and wife where he lives with his patient d surly cat. This is his second publishe ud pro is collaboration with Paul. He d in to have his second story publishe ncBou the Bull Spec, as “Echoes of #1. c ing Ball” appeared in Bull Spe d Paul Celmer has always love sciirst speculative iction, with his d in ence iction story being publishe Ray are 1999. His favorite authors e Jorg and , Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe ks Igaa es Luis Borges. He writes, mak the (www.igaaks.com) and studies Dur in Go ancient strategy game of y, stor st late ham, North Carolina. His list “The Last Gamble”, appears in Nihi e Pet with Sci-i. He has been writing . now Wood for nearly 20 years


2 312 by Kim Stanley Robinson Orbit, May 2012

...Feels more like postmodern bricolage than modernist experiment. Reviewed by Paul Kincaid

I

n 1936, he Big Money, the inal volume in the U.S.A. trilogy by John Dos Passos, was published. he trilogy was immediately recognised as one of the deining works of American Modernism, combining stream of consciousness, newspaper headlines, dramatic shifts in focus and other devices to form a kaleidoscopic portrait of the age. hirty years later, John Brunner incorporated those same techniques in a vivid picture of a world bursting with overpopulation, Stand On Zanzibar. Brunner’s bravura deployment of a range of techniques openly taken from Dos Passos was tacit recognition that the British New Wave, of which this was a leading example, was a belated incorporation of modernism into science iction. Now, another ifty years on, those techniques have been used once again. But 2312 is not a modernist novel. And while Dos Passos used the immediacy of newsreel and stream of consciousness to capture the experience of the age he was living in, from the end of the First World War, through the Jazz Age to the Depression; and while Brunner set his story just barely into the future, using equivalent literary devices to capture a fear that was very vivid and very immediate at the time he was writing; 2312 is set 300 years in the future and depicts a society that has spread across the solar system, in what appears, from our point of view, to be a time of plenty and riches. Kim Stanley Robinson’s appropriation, and updating of techniques from Dos Passos feels more like postmodern bricolage than modernist experiment. And where Dos Passos (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Brunner) could use a welter of abbreviated images to signal a world that was already familiar to their readers, Robinson’s book is about unfamiliarity, it is not a world we have experienced or a world we have foreseen. In other words, it should not work. But it does. In fact, the way Robinson uses this technique is far and away the best thing about this novel. Using extracts from documents, passages 46

of historiography, science papers, sociological reportage, he builds up a feeling for how this future works that is richer, more detailed, and hence more convincing, than just about any work of science iction I can recall. We don’t just see those bits of the universe that the characters happen upon, we don’t just learn about the workings of machinery or social systems that are directly relevant to the plot, rather we get a sense of the complexity of the entire system. We are given a taste of medical advances (some individuals are now extremely tall, some extremely short, all beneit from longevity), political changes (Mercury and Saturn are in an unlikely and uneasy alliance, Venus is riven by rivalries that are invisible to most of its inhabitants), ecological developments (climate change has brought catastrophic sea level rises to Earth, a host of moonlets and comets have been hollowed out and transformed into wilderness parks where wildlife has been preserved), advances in technology and physics, even the arts. Only music, which features more heavily in this book than in anything Robinson has written since he Memory of Whiteness, seems not to have changed much; or, at least, the only composers anyone seems to listen to are Mozart and Beethoven. Lest I give the impression that this is one of those utopian futures where all problems have been solved and the march of science is ever upwards, I should point out that one of the joys of this book, and one of the beneits of the complex technical structure that Robinson has chosen, is that he can show a far more nuanced picture than is usual. he extracts are littered with political, technical and scientiic disagreements. here are doubts galore. People engage in big actions for the best of motives without being sure that they will actually turn out for the best. People then, as now, are ham-isted, often wrong, inclined to take a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and liable to ind that some new discovery or development has undermined everything they have so far believed. Some of


Bull Spec #8

Terminator is a city that moves around Mercury on rails, always just ahead of the sunrise.

the historical documents that we encounter in the extracts suggest that 2312 is a year in which a major revolutionary change was efected in the balance of power in the solar system. When we inally come to what initiates that change, it is left unclear whether it works or not, and whether its efects will be good or bad. hat level of detail and nuance, that complexity of structure, makes this an exciting and enthralling science iction novel. It is just a pity that the plot doesn’t match up to the structure. In the interview that accompanies this review, Kim Stanley Robinson says that the original germ of a story was a romance between a mercurial character from Mercury and a saturnine character from Saturn. hat is an incredibly limsy basis for a story; it’s more of a joke than anything else. Fortunately, what we get is a great deal better than this might suggest, but it is still not a very good story. When her grandmother dies unexpectedly, mercurial artist Swan inds herself caught up in system-wide politics. his brings her into contact with saturnine Warham, a diplomat for the moons of Saturn, and with tiny Inspector Genette, a policeman whose exact jurisdiction never seems precisely clear. Against the odds, the slowly developing romance between Swan and Warham is tender, engaging and convincing. But the romance is subsumed within an investigation, and a series of planetary conspiracies and plots, that are considerably less engaging or convincing. Devastating attacks across the system that involve quantum AIs never quite makes sense, and the unmasking of the criminal mastermind is treated almost as though it were a distraction from what Robinson is trying to do with the novel. And it is never quite clear how all this is connected to a separate system-wide conspiracy that just coincidentally seems to be going on at the same time. here are some wonderful set pieces. Terminator is a city that moves around Mercury on rails, always just ahead of the sun-

rise; and the devastating attack on Terminator is both stunning and original. It is also the irst occasion that Swan and Warham’s lives are at risk, and their long, lonely walk through the tunnels beneath Mercury is what kickstarts the romance. Of course, they then ind themselves under threat again. he occasion when the ship they are in is destroyed and they ind themselves loating alone in space seems eerily and unsatisfyingly repetitious of the similar events on Mercury. And there is a moment late in the novel when animals from the space habitats are returned to Earth that is jaw-droppingly beautiful. But these disparate moments cannot compensate for the weak threads of plot that link them. Mostly this seems to involve Swan and Warham travelling repeatedly and rather aimlessly backwards and forwards across the solar system. It is as if Robinson doesn’t quite trust the Dos Passos technique to tell us all we need to know about the nature of this solar system; he still has to have his characters visit every little bit of it so we can see it for ourselves. he problem that all science iction writers have faced throughout the history of the genre is the problem of the infodump. Wherever the story takes us, across time and space, the diference from the here and now of the reader is crucial and must be explained, but how can this necessary information be conveyed without stopping the story dead? By borrowing from John Dos Passos, Kim Stanley Robinson has found a way of writing a science iction novel that is just about half infodump, and yet this is precisely what is vigorous and exciting and engaging about the novel. It creates a picture of the future so real that you feel it must be like that. Despite the weakness of the plot, the skillful worldbuilding is what makes 2312 a powerful piece of work that deserves to be celebrated. 47


What gives pleasure? An interview with Kim Stanley Robinson By Paul Kincaid

O

ne of the irst things I noticed about 2312, even before I got to the acknowledgements at the back, was the inluence of John Dos Passos. What made you choose to write the novel in this way? A couple of years earlier I was writing an introduction to John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, and I decided to read Dos Passos’s USA trilogy to understand better how Brunner had used him. I had owned an edition of USA for over 30 years without actually reading it, just looking at the elaborate table of contents and skipping around. When I read it I was really impressed, I think it is one of the great American novels, and really good at conveying a sense of the whole of American society in the 1920s. I could see why Brunner has adapted the format to his uses, and said so in my introduction (to the Centipede Press edition of Stand On Zanzibar).

My hope was that sliding across the spectrum like that would make it diicult to tell where the real stuf stopped and the made-up stuf began. hen soon after that I began working on 2312, which began as the idea for the central romance, between a mercurial character from Mercury and a saturnine character from Saturn. Given what I wanted, this made necessary the fairly far future (for me) and the whole solar system being occupied. hen it began to seem to me that the stronger the setting was, the stronger the central story would be, so I needed to be able to put a lot of information into the text, but I didn’t want to go on at great length, or use methods I had used before. he Dos Passos method was fresh in my mind and I saw how each of his strands could be adapted to a future version of that strand, so to speak. At that point I committed myself to trying it as a method, because it isn’t really something to be done halfway; you’re either in or out. Once I was in, it blossomed for me, because it 48

was a pleasure to do the various types of writing involved, and I felt the braiding of diferent kinds of writing could provide variety and pleasure for the reader as well. As you say, Dos Passos was brilliant at conveying the whole shape of his society. Instinctively, it would seem easier to use that method to portray an entirely ictional society, but I wonder if that is indeed the case. Or whether, starting along this route means that you have to think more about how your society is shaped and how it works, so that you end up putting in more than you might otherwise do. I think the form itself does call out for more information about the society than an ordinary narrative would be able to hold, so this, when applied to an entirely ictional society, is both a problem and an opportunity; you do have to think about things you might not usually have to, but the form allows you to talk about them without seeming completely extravagant. his has been the problem of the utopia all along, in that when you try to tell a story about characters, that in itself, reveals the whole society, you get the notorious guided tour chapters, in which the newcomer gets led around and shown things: “Here is our wastewater treatment plant, best in the world!” Or else you get plots that somehow involve the whole society, such that the wastewater treatment plant has to be saved from sabotage or the like. Or then again you can focus on plot and slip social information in by way of little snippets tucked into the low. Often there is some combination of these put to use in SF novels, certainly I have done them all at one time or another, usually in a mix. But the Dos Passos form pulls the snippets out and makes them speciic types of prose poems with their own rules, which frees up the story to tell itself, in Dos Passos’ case often with real speed and momentum. With his formal structure, both the plot and the setting can function well in a more articulated, back-and-forth way. And I wondered whether the technique, the Dos Passos method, actually had an efect on the story you had previously devised. hat is, did the way you chose to tell the story change the story you were telling? And if so, how?


Bull Spec #8 Yes, I think it did. For each of the Dos Passos strands I tried to think of an equivalent for the year 2312, so that what are newspaper articles in Dos Passos become my extracts, chopped out of some discourse not fully described, like the internet or cloud, but it occurred to me that some of it should be coming from years well after 2312, looking back at it as an historic era. hen his Camera Eye sections were stream of consciousness passages, often based quite closely on Dos Passos’ own experiences in life, functioning as one individual life in a much larger social setting. Ironically, his use of the name Camera Eye is exactly backwards to contemporary writing workshop uses of the term, where it means third person narration with no one’s thoughts reported; in U.S.A., the Camera Eye is instead an interiorized stream of consciousness, as in Virginia Woolf. So, in my case I had to think, who should I give that interior view to? And it occurred to me that it should be from inside one of the quantum computers. hen working further on that (what should the qube do or see or think?) led me to much of my qube plot. I’m not sure I would have articulated it the way I did, or even made it as important, if it weren’t for the formal opportunity that the Camera Eye sections gave me. Also, the named passages in U.S.A., those chapters titled by a character’s name, are the heart of the book and its plot, and diferent characters come and go through the trilogy, there are about thirty I’d guess, and it’s impressive how all their stories wrap up into one big knot at the end of the trilogy. But for me what mattered was that these characters are mostly seen from outside, in workshopping “camera eye point of view,” and they thus seem to experience their lives like pinballs in a pinball machine, bufeted by events, often surprised, out of control. I wanted to give my novel some of that quality, and did it mostly in the chapters describing Kiran on Venus. Again, the desire to ill a form gave me the chance to expand that part of the story, to create that feel. You clearly enjoyed the technical challenge of writing like this. Was it a one-of, or would you consider doing something similar again? I think it is a one-of, in terms of the full Dos Passos method. It’s only suitable for very particular needs, and as I move on to other stories it’s hard to imagine the need recurring. he novel I’ve inished since 2312, called Shaman, has a completely diferent form. As did Galileo’s Dream before it. So I hope to continue to have “form follow function” as is always best. But I will say, the real pleasure of doing 2312 in that way, opened my eyes again to the importance of form in the novel. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, but now more than ever. he future sections of Galileo’s Dream seem to take us to much the same future, seeing many of the same places in the same way. Is there a connection between the books? No, I think of them as completely separate, including their future histories. hey do both take place in the solar system, but the only place treated in some detail in both

books is Io, as far as I recall, although Io is treated more realistically in 2312 than in Galileo’s Dream, as the latter is a kind of Renaissance fantasia in its far future sections. It also has time travel issues that lead to many-worlds problems and paradoxes, all best treated as a fantasia, I think. Meanwhile 2312 is much more realist and near-future, and its history is less desperate than the main line history in Galileo’s Dream.

I could play the game of chopping things down to their barest essences while also suggesting what had been chopped. Your “excerpts” cover an awful lot of territory, from biology to astrophysics, from technology to politics. How much did you draw or extrapolate from existing sources, and how much did you simply make up? It varies widely, depending on the topic, but I guess I would say almost all of that material begins in current realities of research, then there are extrapolations, then in some cases a shift again into com 49


Bull Spec #8


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Illustration by Richard Davies


Bull Spec #8

Ray Bradbury: An Appreciation by Richard Dansky

One year, Ray Bradbury sent me a Christmas card.

I

t was 1996, and I was working for White Wolf in Atlanta. Wraith 2nd Edition had come out that year, and I’d had my irst brush up against Mr. Bradbury while I was desperately trying to drum up some marketing noise for the book. Since the game was really literary horror, I igured “why not try to get blurbs for it, like a real book?” White Wolf’s marketing department (also known as “a guy named Greg”) didn’t actively stop me, so I dug into my HWA directory, picked a few people I knew, a few people I’d heard of, and a few people who were, to my exceedingly inexperienced eyes, famous, and wrote to them to ask them to say a few nice words about a roleplaying game about dead people. A few—Christopher Golden, Thomas Ligotti, Alan Clark—were kind enough to respond. A few blew me off. A couple sent back nice notes saying they didn’t do blurbs or they didn’t do RPGs or they didn’t feel justiied blurbing an RPG or whatever, but hey, they were nice about it. And then a buddy of mine, who was also a writer and more experienced in the trenches than I was, got wind of what I was doing, and suggested that while I was at it, I might as well aim high. Really high. Top-of-Everest-on-stilts high. He gave me Ray Bradbury’s phone number and told me to call. After about three days of the vapors, I did. __________ When I was in third grade, I got the chicken pox. Until that point, I never read iction. I was a voracious reader, and a quick one, but non iction was strictly where it was at for me. If it had dinosaurs or tar pits or WWI air combat or rocks and minerals or volcanoes or deep sea ish in it, I was all over it. But Hillary Krain was generous enough with her pathogens to hook me up with chicken pox, and it laid me out but good. It incapacitated me so thoroughly, in fact, that I read all the non iction in my bedroom (which was a considerable amount), and sent me scurrying for something, anything else. And my mother, not knowing what she was about to unleash, left a copy of The Chronicles of Narnia by my bed and said, “Try this.” (Wait, you say. Narnia? That’s not Bradbury! Bear with me. I’m getting there. I promise.) And because it was there, and I was itchy and bored, I read them. Nay, I devoured them, I inhaled them, and I demanded more. And Mom, who had been trying for ages to get me to read something besides children’s astronomy textbooks on the off chance that 59


Ray Bradbury: An Appreciation—Richard Dansky I might want to have a conversation with other human beings someday, brought me more. There was Lloyd Alexander in the stack, and Tolkien, and a handful of others, a mountainous stack of literature that I snafled up as I raced my immune system to see if I could read it all before I healed enough to get back to school. But in the middle of the pile was a slender book called The Halloween Tree, by a man named Ray Bradbury.

Underneath that was a 300 page slice of hubris, a copy of Wraith 2nd Edition. I had, in my puppy-dog eagerness, dedicated it to three of my favorite authors, two dead and one living. The dead ones? Poe and Lovecraft. The living? Bradbury, and I wanted to give him a copy. I believed then, and I believe now, that I was not doing it to show off. It was a token of appreciation, a thank you, a way of saying to the man, “I made this because of you.” If the book was my baby, then he was in some sense its grandpa, which is the sort of thing that only makes sense if you are young and excited and holding your irst big book as you’re about to meet one of your idols. The line to see him was short, much shorter than I expected. I igured it would be around the block. After all, this was Ray Bradbury. Instead, by the time I got there—well after the signing had started, to be sure, as there was trafic and I worked late and all that sort of good thing—there were only a few folks ahead of me. He sat at the desk they’d provided for him and chatted pleasantly with each of the folks in turn, and then suddenly they were all gone and it was just me and him. I would like to say that I said something very eloquent at that moment, that I waxed poetic about how he had inspired me and helped me become a writer. I did not. On the other hand, I did not squee, nor did I throw up, nor did I apologize for calling his house, or say “OH MY GOD YOU’RE RAY BRADBURY!” or any of a million other things that he no doubt had seen in one form or another over the years. Instead, I just thanked him for his writing, and told him that because of The Halloween Tree I was now writing ghost stories, and I asked him to sign a couple of books. He said a few encouraging things, and asked me who I wanted the books signed for, and was unfailingly generous and good-natured. And when he was done, I pulled out the copy of Wraith, and I gave it to him. Mr. Bradbury looked at Wraith, and thumbed through it, and made some mm-hmm noises as he did so. I told him that it was dedicated to him (and Poe and Lovecraft, but they weren’t there, so he was the only one getting a copy of the book), and that I’d found his work inspirational, and that I hoped he’d accept the copy as a thank you for, in a very real sense, helping me become who and what I was. He lipped through a few more pages. Looked up at me. Raised an eyebrow at some of the more outre art, and closed the book. “How old are you?” he asked. “26,” I told him. “26? You’ve got a hardback at 26. I didn’t get my irst one ‘til way later. You’re doing just ine,” he said, and looked at the book again. “Thank you.”

I might as well aim high. Really high. Top-ofEverest-on-stilts high. He gave me Ray Bradbury’s phone number and told me to call. Until I read that book, I hadn’t liked scary stuff. I hated Halloween. I was afraid of the dark. I was small and soft and short and got beaten up on the playground on a regular basis, and I was afraid of everything. Suddenly, though, there was this book, and it opened up worlds to me. The why of it all, the reasons we go dancing with the dark and let the candles burn low, the reasons not to fear fear, but to wonder at it and savor it and get my Halloween on for the sheer joy of it—that’s what the book showed me. I read it. Then I read it again. Then I read it a third time—to be fair, it’s a very short book—and I was doomed. __________ It was not Ray Bradbury who answered the phone. It was the lady of the house, who was very polite, and who let me explain my stammering self for a good thirty seconds while my hindbrain tried to convince my forebrain that this was a Very Bad Idea. When it did, I wound down.

“26? You’ve got a hardback at 26. I didn’t get my irst one ‘til way later. You’re doing just ine,” “He’s not here, I’m afraid,” said Mrs. Bradbury. Very gently, she added, “I don’t think he does that sort of thing.” “Oh,” I said, and realized she’d gracefully, generously given me a way to withdraw without making more of an ass of myself. “Thank you for your time,” I told her. “I’m very sorry if I disturbed you.” “Not at all,” she said. “Goodbye.” Later that year, Ray Bradbury came to Atlanta on a book tour. It was at the late, lamented Oxford Books, and I giggled and harrumphed my way into town from the hinterlands of Clarkston in order to see him. I had with me a couple of his books to get signed—not too many, though I owned scads. Just the nice ones, the ones that I hadn’t read to pieces. And one exception: The Halloween Tree. 60


Bull Spec #8 “Thank you,” I said, and realized that I was unexpectedly and completely out of words. “Thank you,” I said again, and backed away. I forced myself to walk to the door, playing it cool the whole time. Then, once I was outside, I ran for the car, for fear someone would take what had just happened away from me. __________ My birthday is October 24th. A studious individual might note that this is oficially designated United Nations Day, a feeble holiday if ever there were one. A few famous people share the birthday—Kevin Kline and Y.A. Tittle and Tila Tequila, a mixed bag if ever

I’ve always noted that my birthday was the day of Cooger and Dark, ever since I irst read Something Wicked. Some people even get it. __________ Things happened. Time passed. Other books got churned out of the relentless White Wolf machine. I wish I could say snow started falling, but it was Atlanta, and that sort of thing didn’t happen. But it did get close to Christmas, and various holiday cards—from companies we did business with, and competitors, and freelancers, and fans. Normally they came to the company, but one landed in my mailbox, one I wasn’t expecting. The return address said, “Bradbury”. I tore it open. Inside was a Christmas card, with a section of “With Cat For Comforter” and a short note thanking me for the book. I levitated all the way back to my desk. I have it still. __________

The return address said, “Bradbury”. It is easy, if time-consuming, to run down the achievements of Mr. Bradbury’s career. This many books, that many awards, this many scripts and adaptations and honors, all of which were richly deserved. It is harder, much harder to pin down what he meant, what his work meant to readers and viewers and writers and children of all ages who took their irst steps into his world and inevitably, magically, got lost there. What he meant to me, I know. And I know, too, that there are so many of us out there, each of whom has a story about how a Ray Bradbury story touched them, or inspired them, or made them want to sing words across paper. All of our stories are different no doubt, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we—so many of us— have them, and can share them, and can pass them on. Which we will, because that’s what you taught us: the telling of stories, the sharing of joy. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury. From all of us.

there were one. Moss Hart’s in there, too, but on the whole, it’s not a lineup to get excited about. October 24 is also the date, in Something Wicked This Way Comes, that Cooger and Dark’s Panedmonium Shadow Show rolls into town. That, if you love Bradbury, is a marvelous day for a boy to have a birthday on, a perfect day to claim if you’re the sort who writes about shadows and shades and small towns, too.

The Central Clancy Writer for Red Storm/Ubisoft, Richard Dansky has worked on numerous video games, including the upcoming Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The author of ive published novels, his collection Snowbird Gothic was just published by NECON E-Books, and a sixth novel, Vaporware, is forthcoming in May from JournalStone.

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Hank Reinhardt’s Book of Knives: A Practical and Illustrated Guide to Knife Fighting by Hank Reinhardt with Greg Phillips Baen, June 2012 he Reinhardt Legacy Fight Team is made up of people who regularly sparred with Hank, people who have since expanded the team with new members to whom they have passed on Hank’s ideas. Whit and his brother Allen organized all the illustrations for the book. Whit Williams is the leader of the Hank Reinhardt Legacy Fight Team. Exploding Spaceship: Whit, when did you meet Hank Reinhardt? Whit Williams: 1987 and I started training with him then, also. ES: he HRL Fight Team was Hank’s sparring group? WW: Yes. In 1996 my brother and a couple of others, David and Adam, got introduced to him and our sparring group impressed Hank, so my brother and I were used in three of Hank’s videos. Before that time Hank had loaned me equipment for my sparring group but the others had not trained with him. ES: Tell us about Hank’s ighting philosophy. WW: Hank’s philosophy on ighting was “he best ight you will ever have is the one you never get into”, but if forced to ight don’t let the opponent know you are about to strike; remain inconspicuous and avoid obvious techniques. his concept is based on Musashi’s Book of Five Rings. ES: here was a technique in the demonstration called the Reinhardt Snap. Would you explain this technique and its utility? WW: hat is Hank’s snapping-out technique, which is sort of like a jab punch. It’s fast but without much power, so it’s good for pocketknives as well as larger ones. here’s a graphical breakdown of the technique in the book.

B

ook of Knives is a follow-up to Book of Swords, which was released in August 2009. It is intended to show people how to select a knife and how to use one properly, and also includes real life stories of Hank and his friends to warn about the dangers of knife ighting. It is also an excellent source for writers to use when choreographing ight scenes. he drawings included are excellent and the story-like nature of the text makes it a reader-friendly. Unlike many martial arts books which are basically useless on their own, this book has enough meat in the text that you could setup practice sessions to perfect the techniques described in the book. he Reinhardt Legacy Fight Team demonstrated techniques from the book at DeepSouthCon in Huntsville, Alabama in June 2012, and the interview with team member Whit Williams and Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf Reinhardt were also conducted at this convention.

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ES: here is an impressive photo in the book of you using this technique to slice a water bottle with a large knife. WW: Yes, that’s a training technique we use. __________ Interviewer’s Note: Miyamoto Musashi was a 17th-century samurai, a renowned warrior, and the concepts he presented in the Book of Five Rings have been used by swordsmen and martial artists since it was irst written. After speaking with Whit following the demonstration we asked Toni Weisskopf some questions about the book and how writers might use it. ES: Toni, the Book of Knives is a follow-up to the Book of Swords, correct? Toni Weisskopf: Yes. Both were left uninished by my husband when he passed away ive years ago.


Bull Spec #8 ES: Do you know when the Book of Knives was written? TW: We think in the 1970s and 1980s. Hank didn’t publish it then because he thought people might use the knowledge the wrong way. ES: Times have changed, so Baen decided to publish it. TW: Yes. ES: Many aspiring authors use books on weapons as source material. Is that a good use for the Book of Knives? TW: Yes. It gives real-world examples and tells what knife-ighting is really about; it doesn’t give a distorted media view. ES: Could a writer use those examples as a source for ight scenes? TW: To some extent. Many writers make ights too long because they’ve never been in one, or they use TV and movies as references. Hank’s attitude about knife ighting comes across in the book, and I hope this would inluence the attitude of readers (or writers). Knife ights are dangerous and short. Gerald and Angela Blackwell are science iction and fantasy fans who also write science iction and enjoy reading many types of books. They travel to science iction conventions in the southeastern US and to locations around the globe for their day job of running a medical device consulting business. Business travel is usually accompanied by side trips to interesting geeky travel spots, some of which you will see reviewed in The Exploding Spaceship. Gerald is a 2012 UNCG grad in the MALS program with an undergraduate degree in mass communications from UMUC. Angela holds two degrees in biomedical engineering, a M.S. from UAB and a B.S. from Tulane. They have been together since 1989 when Angela moved from New Orleans to Birmingham and went to a Star Trek fan club meeting to encounter some likeminded souls who were not fellow engineers. Within hours of meeting they were discussing the role-playing game universe which has morphed into the universe their iction inhabits. You can see images of their universe’s characters and technology on www. talesofthestarunion.com and you can follow them on Twitter from Angela’s account @Explodnspceship and on Facebook from Gerald’s account www.facebook.com/gerald.blackwell.5. Photo of Hank Reinhardt courtesy of Baen Books.

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ConCarolinas Film Fesival Lewis Manalo on he ConCarolinas Short Film Festival

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’m having a conversation with a ghost hunter when the father of a family-horde of zombies cuts in and starts grunting at us. Flesh hanging from his cheek and dark circles smudged around his eyes, the undead dad motions to the EMF detector on the table between the three of us. Annoyed, the ghost hunter raises his eyebrows. He’d probably like to shoot Papa Zombie in the head. Suspecting that zombies have different social norms than the living, I try to give Papa Zombie a friendly smile, but it’s probably a wince. he blonde-haired zombie children groan at their daddy’s antics, and the undead family ambles on. his is ConCarolinas. Billed as the “Best Sci-Fi Con in the Carolinas,” ConCarolinas is the area’s premiere destination for all the walking dead, Mallorians, LARPing knights, and Steampunk fanatics. hough it’s always pleasant to rub shoulders with folks dressed as the original crew of Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise, I came down from New York City to premiere my short ilm at the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival. John Mazza has been running the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival since it began at the convention four years ago. What started with just twelve short ilms has grown into a program that screens for two days. A few ilms it squarely into the science iction genre, such as my short, he Unlikely Mind of Howard Nimh, about the irst person to download his mind onto a computer. But like the convention, the ilm festival covers all speculative iction, and the festival includes a strong helping of horror ilms, such as Syb‑ ling Rivalry, about a girl who eats her brother, as well as fan ilms, such as eHermione, a parody ad for a wizard’s dating site.

“We look for originality,” Mazza said. “We kind of focus on storytelling as opposed to special efects and big bangs; however, we do appreciate that sort of thing.” A key goal of the ilm festival is to encourage local ilmmakers. “It’s more of a community feel than a competitive feel,” Mazza said. “Everybody cooperates with everybody else.” I haven’t seen a ilmmaking community like this one since New York in the Nineties. To name just a few connections: actor Shane Terry is featured in ive of the shorts at the festival; Michael Ray Williams, the director of festival entry Perception, a sci-i short, plays a young man with a haunted sphincter in another entry, he Ghastly Ghostly Gas. he director of he Ghastly Ghostly Gas, Christine Parker, stands at the center of this ilm community. he owner of Adrenaline Group, Parker has been participating in the festival since its irst year when her short Getting a Head in the Movie Biz won Best Short Film. With lowbudget feature ilms such as Forever Dead and Fistful of Brains under her belt, Parker is one of the driving forces behind the independent horror and science iction ilm scene in North Carolina. Parker is quick to credit the internet with the strength of the local ilm scene. Citing Facebook and Stage 32, Parker said over email that “social networks have been a big help in allowing us to ind each other and network… Most of the people I have met have had a strong desire to support their fellow ilmmakers.”

I haven’t seen a filmmaking community like his one since New York in the Nineties.

“We look for originality,” Mazza said. “We kind of focus on storytelling as o p p o s e d to s p e c i a l e f f e c ts. ”

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Bull Spec #8

If the quality of the ilms at ConCarolinas Short Film Festival is any measure, North Carolina’s independent horror and sci-i ilm scene is growing strong. “When I take a look at some of the ilms at our irst and second year,”Mazza said,“and put them up against what they’re submitting today, it’s like night and day. Leaps and bounds of improvement.” Christine Parker agrees. “Each I have attended, I’ve watched it grow,” she said. “he quality of the ilms have [sic] gotten much more professional. It makes the competition more tough, but the awards more meaningful.” And Parker still wins awards. he Ghastly Ghostly Gas received the award for best explosion. My short won the Neo Sci-Fi Award for “originality and a fresh take on the genre.” Best Original Fiction Film went to Christopher G. Moore’s Foodie, a horror short about a restaurateur who becomes the main course at an exclusive dinner party. John Mazza’s dream is to get the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival into a proper movie theater, but his main goal is to keep people interested. “I don’t like people to be, I guess, bored. It really like frustrates me,” he said. “I can give people something that they want, give people something that they ind exciting, something that can entice them. And for the ilmmakers, encourage them to go out and make that better ilm… hat’s what we’re trying to do here.” Lewis Manalo is a writer and ilmmaker based in New York City. Visit www.princessrevolver. com for more information on “The Unlikely Mind of Howard Nimh.” 65


Exogene -andChimera by T.C. McCarthy Orbit, 2012

She’s efficient and effective, earning the nickname “Little Murderer”

Reviewed by C.D. Covington

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xogene is the second novel in TC McCarthy’s Subterrene War trilogy. Each novel looks at the war from the perspective of a different participant. From the time of her “birth” in the atelier, a cloning facility, Catherine embodies the ambitions of the military advisors who started the genetic engineering program that produced her. She’s devoted to the religion based on war and death mixed with Christianity with which she’s raised in the program. She’s eicient and effective, earning the nickname “Little Murderer” in her training exercises. Her only law, in their minds, is her love of another genetic (G), Megan. Catherine is approaching her discharge date—her eighteenth birthday—and she’s starting to spoil. She’s having nightmares and hallucinations, and even feeling guilt for her actions. She doesn’t want to be discharged (the euphemism for being shot in the ield), so she runs away with Megan. It isn’t that easy, of course. he military is extremely interested in keeping the Gs tightly reined. Special Forces agents are assigned to track down Gs that have run away, and they chase Catherine and Megan across Kazakhstan. She’s captured by Russian genetics, who take her to their home in Siberia. While there, she learns about new Chinese units, which Russia is trying to copy, that integrate 66

a genetic with mechanized armor. Testing the units invariably results in the genetic’s death. he crisis of faith that results from her spoiling, as well as from becoming disillusioned about the men in command of the military, follows her as she escapes via Russia and Korea. Her decision in the inal pages of the book is based on her re-found devotion to her beliefs, and even then, the military men seek to turn it to their advantage. Exogene, like Germline, is a story about how ighting a war changes the people who ight it. Even someone spoon-fed a Viking-like creed wherein death in battle is the key to glory, who was engineered for the sole purpose of killing enemy soldiers, isn’t immune to the horrors of war. he Gs are still human, for all the Army tried to breed it out of them. McCarthy delivers another unlinching look at the dark side of humanity in this smart military SF novel. __________ Chimera is the inal installment in the trilogy, and it provides the widest view of the world of his series: Japan obliterated, Korea a nuclear wasteland, China engaged in empirebuilding in Southeast Asia, a United States recovering from losing the west to nukes, and all of humanity waiting for a space elevator to be built and asteroid mining to revitalize the economy.


Bull Spec #8

Exogene and Chimera by T.C. McCarthy Orbit Books (2012) Stan Resnick is a Special Forces agent who hunts down satos—escaped Genetics like Catherine. When he’s home with his family, he can’t wait to leave for his next mission. He loves combat, loves ighting, loves the thrill of the hunt. He hates satos, because they’re soulless, inhuman killing machines. He gets the call to go to Australia to take out a sato. He inds four, and they’re in considerably better shape than he expected. he genetic engineers built in failsafes that cause the Gs to develop gangrene and rot limb from limb after their discharge date, but the ones in Australia are as fresh as when they were irst decanted from the tanks. He returns to the US and is given a promotion and a new mission. It’s so top secret that he’s honorably discharged, so he’s oicially of the books, but they’re still supporting him. He’s to go to hailand and ind Margaret, who escaped from Russia with Catherine and can help him ind the lead scientist on Project Sunshine, a Dr. Chen, an American scientist who went rogue. A new genetically-engineered soldier appeared with the Chinese army as they fought through Russia, and the US military believes Chen was involved in their creation. he Gs Stan killed in Australia were en route to him, and the military wants to know how the failsafes are being overridden.

When he returns to the jungle where he served his irst tour, he inds that he never really left, or that it never left him. As he travels toward the hai-Burmese border, where Margaret is holding the Burmese-Chinese invasion force at bay, he becomes that which he hates: a soulless killing machine.

To Stan, the genetics are abominations created in a lab by scientists. To Margaret, the “unbred” humans are inferior. hroughout the Subterrene War trilogy, there’s a strong theme of what it means to be human. In Chimera that comes to the fore. To Stan, the genetics are abominations created in a lab by scientists. To Margaret, the “unbred” humans are inferior. Yet Stan himself barely displays human emotions toward his wife, and the Gs aren’t emotionless automatons. At times reminiscent of Apocalypse Now, Chimera shows that the abyss will gaze back at you if you stare at it long enough. C.D. Covington enjoys soccer and science iction. Her latest short story, “Something There Is”, was published in the anthology Substitution Cipher in December 2012. 67


1Q 84 Reviewed by Jason Erik Lundberg

A linguistic pun on the number 9 in Japanese being pronounced “ky ”

I

t’s a daunting thing, both to be asked to cram school, and spends the rest of his time writing short storeview Haruki Murakami, and to tackle ries—and Masami Aomame—a physical trainer at a sports his longest book to date (925 pages in the club who also moonlights as an assassin of men who phtysiUK omnibus hardcover). One might be cally abuse women and children, deftly dispatching them with tempted to compare it with his other long her homemade icepick. hese two protagonists (who alternate works, like he Wind‑Up Bird Chronicle or chapters with their points of view) are connected by the fact Hard‑boiled Wonderland and the End of the that they once attended the same elementary school class and World or Kafka on the Shore, but this would have thought about the other ever since, and that a mysteribe a futile endeavor. Whilst 1Q84 is deous manipulative force has malevolent designs on each of them. initively a Murakami novel, written in By a trick of fate, both Aomame and Tengo separately slip his distinctive detached prose that is light into a parallel world—Aomame when she descends an emergency on explanation but heavy on meaning, the escape from a jammed expressway, and Tengo when he rewrites an novel must be treated in a uniquely singuincomprehensible novella created by 17-year-old dyslexic wun‑ lar manner, sui generis for an author with an derkind Eriko Fukada (who goes by the pen name of Fuka-Eri). already remarkably incomparable career. his alternate world is much like our own, except that policemen 1Q84 was originally released as carry heavier armaments, a joint USA-USSR moon base is unthree volumes in Japan, with der construction, and two Book 1 and Book 2 both re- “Sex is a key to enter a spirit moons hang in the sky (the leased in May 2009, and Book regular one we know, and a 3 following in April 2010. It … Sex is like a dream when smaller green one described is interesting to note the un- you are awake; I think dreams as being covered in moss). expected publication of the the year in which the are collective. Some parts do Since inal volume, as Book 2 ends novel takes place is 1984, on such a clifhanger; one can not belong to yourself.” Aomame labels this new imagine the frustration of world “1Q84” (with a linMurakami’s Japanese readers in wonderguistic pun on the number 9 in Japanese being pronounced “kyū”). ing how he possibly could have ended the What the reader gets in Book 1, is sex. Lots of sex, destory at such an exciting moment. He has scribed in abundant and clinical detail. Tengo and Aomame are stated that he might even write a Book 4, both 30 years old and in the prime of their sexual lives, and Mubut this would likely be a misstep, as the rakami is keen to describe their coital encounters (with other peoevents are concluded quite satisfactorily at ple) in exacting and laborious detail, to the point where the reader the end of Book 3. might wonder if this is all the book will be about. Aomame repeatBook 1 introduces the readedly catalogs her naked features in the mirror, paying close critical er to Tengo Kawana—a former math attention to her asymmetrical breasts and wiry pubic hair, while prodigy who teaches part-time at a Tengo’s lover of-handedly comments on the heft of his penis. 68


Bull Spec #8 One comes to Murakami’s work expecting a certain amount of sexual content, but it sufuses the pages of 1Q84 more than any of his other works. In a World Press Review interview (Vol. 48, No. 8, 2001), Murakami says that “sex is a key to enter a spirit … Sex is like a dream when you are awake; I think dreams are collective.

In the world of 1Q84, it appears that the popularity of literary works by young beautiful women is as pervasive as in our own. However, the attention that the book has garnered leads to some unwanted attention for Tengo, most especially in the form of Ushikawa, a grotesquely ugly private investigator hired by Sakigake for an unknown purpose.

...his iction allows an almost equal collaboration between writer and reader. We must ill in the gaps...

by Haruki Murakami Translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel Alfred A. Knopf (2011)

Some parts do not belong to yourself.” his dreamlike aspect of sex, as well as its methodical clinical examination, provide a unique frisson in the novel, where the acts themselves come across as both titillating and matterof-fact. his, of course, refers to the consensual sex engaged in by the main characters, but Murakami further complicates the issue in his examination of sexual abuse, particularly of young women, as a malignant means of channeling great power. Book 2 concerns itself with Aomame’s most diicult and potentially fatal (for her) assignment yet: the killing of a cult leader whom, she is told, has been sexually assaulting pre-pubescent girls, including his own daughter. he cult, called Sakigake, has formidable resources and legal religious protections used for the purpose of keeping the cult’s activities secret, and of keeping their leader safe. If she is to successfully complete her task, Aomame will have to forgo her past and her identity, and move far away with a surgically-altered face after the job is done. Meanwhile, the novella Air Chrysalis, which Tengo has “co-written” with Fuka-Eri, has not only been submitted to a literary contest by Tengo’s editor friend Komatsu, but it has won the grand prize, been published as a stand-alone book, and become a bestseller.

While Book 1 is mostly pulled along by the various sex scenes, Book 2 sufers from repetitive bloat, as if Murakami were treading water. Characters often ruminate on events that have just happened, or repeat thoughts irst encountered in Book 1, with the result that the text feels baggy, slow and frustrating. To say that 1Q84 employs a leisurely pace throughout all three volumes is to grossly understate the issue, but this is especially prevalent in Book 2. Careful editing could have trimmed the volume to half its length and not lost any of the emotional power of its events. But then, oh, Book 3 is a triumph. It is unclear whether this is due to the fact that Murakami had taken a break between ending Book 2 and starting Book 3, or that this volume was translated by Philip Gabriel rather than Jay Rubin (who translated Books 1 and 2), or that Murakami decided to make Ushikawa an additional point-ofview character with an energetic and highly unusual way of looking at the world, but the prose in Book 3 just sings. Aomame and Tengo are set up to reunite after twenty years of being apart, but Ushikawa, who has now also set Aomame in his sights, may close in on the pair of them before this can happen. As with many of Murakami’s works, 1Q84 deies easy analysis. He has stated repeatedly that he often feels himself to be a conduit through which his stories low, which allows for incredible imagery that cannot be pinned down with one interpretation. his is one of the reasons readers continue to devour his books; more than many current working writers, his iction allows an almost equal collaboration between writer and reader. We must ill in the gaps, which are numerous, in order to satisfactorily suss out the meaning that Murakami’s muse relays onto the page. And along the way, we are so submerged in the daily lives of Tengo and Aomame that they become a part of us, to reside in our own subconscious long after the last page is turned over. Jason Erik Lundberg is the author of several books of the fantastic — Embracing the Strange (2013), The Alchemy of Happiness (2012), Red Dot Irreal (2011), The Time Traveler’s Son (2008), Four Seasons in One Day (with Janet Chui, 2003) and The Curragh of Kildaire (2001) — one children’s book — A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha (2012) — and more than a hundred short stories, articles, and book reviews. He is also the founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, series editor for Best New Singaporean Short Stories, editor of Fish Eats Lion (2012), and co-editor of A Field Guide to Surreal Botany(2008) and Scattered, Covered, Smothered (2004). A graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop, Lundberg holds a degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University and currently lives in Singapore. 69


The Clockwork Pen by Joseph Giddings

erhaps it a testament to the quality of Steampunk oferings that this issue allows me to review not one, not two, but three books by prominent and well loved science iction authors. All three books take on the Steampunk style and aesthetic with aplomb, and do their part to further the genre. First up, I will examine Hearts of Smoke and Steam from Andrew P. Mayer. he second book of the superhero laden Society of Steam series picks up almost exactly where the last left of, with the Society in disarray and chaos after the events of the irst book. We rejoin Sarah Stanton’s quest to right the wrongs done against her and her friends. Taking on the persona of a superhero, she inds herself under attack by the Children of Eschaton, the fanatical followers of Lord Eschaton, a supervillain. he pacing of the story keeps you reading from scene to scene, the point of view switching between Sarah and a few of the various remaining members of the Society. Sarah seeks a new home for the Automaton’s heart, which she still holds onto dearly, while the Society struggles to rebuild after the ruin that had befallen it in the last book. he characters are believable (more so than the last book) and I found myself feeling strongly about them, for good or bad. he characters still seem to lack a sense of logic, but perhaps this is because they are still learning how to cope with the changes in their world. My only real complaint with the story is I felt like every chapter induced whiplash. In most novels, you follow the scene in a chapter until its conclusion, and then the next chapter picks up where the last one ended. Within the chapter we switch from view to view, keeping everything in neat, chronological order. Not in

70

this book. he start of the next chapter may yank you back hours or even days, leaving you wondering just where this connects in the last chapter’s timeline I would ind myself pausing for a few minutes every chapter just to get my bearings. Despite this whiplash, though, I found the book an enjoyable read and I think anyone looking for more Steampunk superheroes should look no further than Hearts of Smoke and Steam. Next we leave the mean streets of Manhattan and head out west. he Weird West, to the time of Doc Holiday and Billy the Kid, except with steam technology and mad science. his time, Mike Resnick brings us he Doctor and the Kid. Doc Holiday returns and this time he has gambled away the money intended for his stay at a sanitarium, on account of his tuberculosis. Needing a way to get it back, he inds the bounty on a new outlaw, Billy the Kid, sizable enough to handle his problem. he story is a quick read. Each chapter does a fantastic job of making you want to ind out what happens next. Resnick’s storytelling skills shine in this story as he keeps the text tight and avoids the unnecessary side trips many authors love to drop on their readers. Doc Holiday is a character that you can easily get into, despite his massive laws, and the Kid is cocky and irritating, but likable all the same. he twists and turns are often predictable, which can lead you to know the outcome of many scenes before they even get a page in, but the ending comes out of nowhere and surprises you. he inclusion of the magic employed by the Native Americans adds an air of unpredictability that makes a novel refreshing.

he Doctor and the Kid: A Weird West Tale by Mike Resnick Pyr (December 2011)

P


One of the strengths of the book is Resnick’s ability to make it Steampunk without technology as the driving factor in the story. Where some authors spend an inordinate amount of time describing the tech everywhere, Resnick keeps it simple and the science only gets in the way when it’s relevant. It feels like a real world with a twist. he Doctor and the Kid is a fun book written by a master of science iction. here are very few laws, and the story never takes itself too seriously. Worth reading if you are a fan of Resnick, Steampunk, or just a good Western, albeit one with an odd (or Weird) spin. Last, but not least, we jump across the Atlantic and join Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Swinburne in London, England, for the next part of their fantastic adventures. We return to their version of England, where Queen Victoria died at the hands of an assassin and steam rules the day. Mark Hodder brings them back in Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, where the pair embarks on a dangerous journey into Africa to retrace Burton’s steps to ind the source of the Nile River. Of course, this time Burton is after something else. He now seeks the source of this messed up alternate timeline and other madness—the inal black diamond that is part of the Eyes of the Naga set. Burton hopes to claim this last gem before British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, who intends to use it to gain supreme control of everything. he journey is deadly to many of their followers, and puts our heroes in jeopardy as well. And it is here the story, I feel, starts to fall apart. Over several books, Hodder has made a lot of characters that we have come to enjoy. However, when people start dying, it starts to get cumbersome, and you turn each page with dread, fearing another beloved character will die. At least in he

Hearts of Smoke and Steam by Andrew P. Mayer Pyr (November 2011)

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon by Mark Hodder Pyr ( January 2012)

Bull Spec #8

Queen of the Darkness Anne Bishop killed everyone of at once in the end. Hodder dragged it out over 390 pages! I will say the technology really took of in this book, climbing to heights of imagination (and horror) I have never seen. Giant insects killed and hollowed out, their carapaces becoming armor for massive horrible war machines, as well as general purpose transportation. Hodder explores the dark side of eugenics, using the animal kingdom in horriic ways, all in an efort to further mankind. his is a grand adventure, and a itting conclusion to the story Hodder started with he Strange Afair of Spring-Heeled Jack. Deinitely dive into this one if you’re caught up with the series, just be ready to be dragged through a series of depressing events. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I highly recommend that you do, and not just because starting with this book would leave you extremely confused. All three books are available now from Pyr Books. Joseph spends his days performing feats of heroism as an IT guru in Winterville, NC. At night he’s a superhero to his wife and four year old son. When he’s not saving the world from crashed hard drives and rescuing lost toy pickup trucks, he’s playing video games, watching TV, reading, writing, or searching for alien life with his telescope. In addition to illing the role of Assistant Managing Editor at Tangent Online, Joseph has written iction that has appeared at Ray Gun Revival and Mystic Signals, and recently in the Dark Stars Anthology from Earthbound Fiction. Occasionally, Joseph blogs at http://theclockworkpen.wordpress.com. 71


Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron Candlemark & Gleam, December 2011

isn’t dead. Maddie had inally decided to move on with her life, and she’s confronted with the fact that Alvin is still alive—and that he may be a murderer and a demigod. here are eight worlds, all connected. Twains, like Maddie and Matilda or Randy and Randall, inhabit them alongside regular people. he story takes place mostly in Second World, a strange, steampunk Boston, where people have built mansions that loat above the city because the Wilds outside the border are unsafe and land is scarce. Barron’s prose is clear yet not simplistic. She describes the clothing Maddie wears and the familiar yet unfamiliar scenery quite vividly, without falling into purpleness:

__________ he costume was of such a high quality and design it was practically a work of art, composed of layers upon layers of yellow and cream-colored jacquard, inished with a feathered hat perched on her own head, ofset perfectly by the high-collared lace blouse. he blouse was so sheer as to be practically invisible, falling down to the tops of her breasts, which were pushed high and together by the remarkable corset at her waist; this corset, from the look of it in the mirror, was not just steel reinforced, but plated with brass as well. No wonder she felt like she was being squeezed by a vise.

__________ Review by C.D. Covington

I

t is diicult to review Pilgrim of the Sky in any amount of depth without spoiling the ending. his review attempts to avoid discussing anything not contained in the irst few chapters or the back cover copy. Art historian Maddie Angler’s long-time boyfriend Alvin Roth has gone missing, and everyone assumes he’s committed suicide. Maddie inds a box of books belonging to Alvin’s physics dissertation director while she’s moving out of their apartment. Alvin’s brother Randy, who is mentally challenged due to an accident, insists on going with her to Boston to return the books. While at Dr. Keats’ home, Randy pushes her through a mirror into a world not at all like our own, where she lands in the body of Matilda Roth. Her unwilling hostess wants only to evict Maddie’s consciousness from her body. Randall, Alvin’s brother in Second World, orchestrated the scheme to bring Maddie through so she could see that Alvin

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A familiarity with art history would beneit the reader, as references to various artists and art movements or periods are scattered throughout the text: William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, Baroque. here is enough context to allow readers who are less familiar to have a sense of what the descriptions mean, however, and for the reader who wants a more concrete image, a quick trip to Wikipedia will provide it. Pilgrim of the Sky is a lush, evocative trip through a wellimagined alternate Boston. Maddie’s journey of love, loss, and reconciliation draws the reader in and doesn’t let go.


Bull Spec #8

he Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poet r y edited by Rose Lemberg Aqueduct Press, May 2012

a rich history here. he presence of such a famous and respected speculative author immediately gives weight to the publication as well. Le Guin calls her readers to come and howl at the moon with her and makes them want to say yes. his perfectly sets up the rest of the collection: it is a group of writers answering her howl with unique and beautiful howls of their own. here are so many poems that stand out that it is diicult to pick a few to highlight. I re-read Nicole Kornher-Stace’s “Harvest Season” about three times in a row, unable to get over the power of it, J.C. Runolfson’s “he Birth of Science Fiction” absolutely stunned me, and “untitled Old Scratch poem, featuring River” by Sheree Renee homas has an incredible feel and rhythm. Sally Rosen Kindred’s “Sabrina, Borne” is moving, precise, and painful, and Patricia Monaghan’s “Journey to the Mountains of the Hag” had lines that made me gasp with their rightness. Lisa Bradley’s “he Haunted Girl” is precisely as the title implies, it stayed with me a long time after I had inished reading it and I think it’s with me still. Vandana Singh’s “Syllables of Old Lore” is a short but lovely spell that instantly casts a very speciic mood. Perhaps my favorite new discovery in the collection was Greer Gilman’s “She Undoes”, a gorgeous poem with an ending that made me shiver with its perfection:

“And nightlong winterlong her owlwinged hair’s unbound. She will not do it up.”

Reviewed by Brittany Warman

I

n the introduction to he Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, editor Rose Lemberg states that she sees the collection as “a roadmap to what diverse, intersetctional feminist speculative poetry is and what it can become”. he collection lives up to this promise, ofering painstakingly chosen and phenomenal representations of the diverse and powerful world of feminist speculative poetry. here is no typical writer here—there are men as well as women, people of color, queer people, the very new mixed with the most well-known and beloved voices. hese poets are “dream[ing themselves] into the world” and an anthology celebrating this is needed and more than welcome, as the many much-deserved positive reviews have indicated. Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Werewoman” is the perfect opener for this collection; it almost seems like an invocation to the muse. Starting of with the well-established Le Guin gives the reader the proper sense that this is not a new movement, that there is

It may be my new favorite poem of all time. here were several poems that I was familiar with and was already a fan of included as well. Among my favorites were Catherynne M. Valente’s “he Girl with Two Skins”, heodora Goss’ “he Witch”, “he Sea Witch Talks Snow Business” by Elizabeth R. McClellan, and Delia Sherman’s “Snow White to the Prince”. Lemberg’s skill as an editor should also be noted, both in her choices of what poems to include and in the clearly speciic and wellchosen order in which those poems appear. his is an astounding, important anthology that deserves to be read, and I hope that it serves as inspiration for many more collections like it in the future. Each poem was clearly picked with purpose and each one has something to ofer. he voices here howl and demand to be heard—”listen how they howl together” (Le Guin). 73


Incoming and Outgoing Though I’ve made a suggestion here and there I hope has made a story or two a bit stronger, I’m not a story editor. I’m very glad to be moving into a chapter of publication where I’m not only helping nurture the area’s writing talent, but also the area’s editing talent. It’s a long time coming, but this double issue is indeed my last as iction editor; with the next issue, Natania Barron and Eric Gregory’s selections will take center stage, starting with a “best of the world” themed issue which will see our irst original novelette, Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award winner Ken Liu’s “The Long Haul”, as well as new short stories from World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar and multiple “Year’s Best” selectee An Owomoyela. It’s going to be quite an issue—likely another double—and I’m looking forward to it as much as anyone! At the same time, an announcement: Currently, the next issue is the last issue I plan to print as publisher. Much of 2012 was spent in getting original web content going—so far this has been entirely in the form of non iction—and though we have some strides to make in terms of the web approach, I’ve found that what I enjoy most is being an “ecosystem evangelist” and not, really, a publisher at all. I think that (along with the work of many others, much of it completely unrelated to anything I’ve done) one of the key founding purposes of Bull Spec has been achieved. We have an incredible and vibrant community of authors and critics and artists and editors, two bookending conventions (illogiCon and ConTemporal) around a robust series of bookstore and university events, thriving writer’s groups, and plenty of energy and creativity to go around. But! Hey, if anybody else wants to try their hand at the world of print publication, I’m all ears, and will be captain of the cheerleading squad. But if it’s still me, it’s looking like a web irst world going forward. I just don’t have the time, energy, and resources to continue printing boxes of magazines, even at the much-reduced “schedule” we’ve been on for a couple of issues now. So: Thanks everyone for all the stories and support and (almost completely) volunteer help so far. Here’s hoping for a great response to this issue and a great-looking next issue, and for whatever’s next for Bull Spec. If absolutely nothing else, I’ll see you online. Samuel Montgomery Blinn Editor and Publisher


Bull Spec #8+9 - Sample  

Sample pages from Bull Spec #8+9.

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