Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Subterranean Online, Spring 2009 (magazine, free)

Subterranean Online magazine, Spring 2009 issue, edited by Gardner DozoisThis is a special issue of Subterranean, edited by Gardner Dozois. Less non-genre fiction & less fantasy than is usual here, though there are some.

Nothing really outstanding in the issue, though there are a few adequate stories, depending on personal tastes:

  1. Resnick's is ok, but is among the weaker Lucifer Jones' stories.
  2. Kosmatka's requires a taste for stories about petty gangs & slums.
  3. McAuley's & MacLeod's might feel ok to space opera & cyberpunk junkies, respectively.
  4. Lansdale's will probably make more sense to US readers than others.
Link on a story title goes to my post on story, if there is one. Link on author or series name fetches more matching fiction. My rating is in brackets.

Table of contents (fiction only, 8 stories, best first).

  1. Mike Resnick's "Mother Scorpion's House of Fallen Flowers" (B); download; humor, non-genre: Lucifer Jones gets accidentally associated with a prostitution cum smuggling enterprise in Valparaiso, Chile.

    Ending indicates this is the last Lucifer Jones story set in South America, & that next ones will be set in Australia.
  2. Ted Kosmatka's "The Ascendant" (B); download: Hard life in a society that is essentially an anarchy.
  3. Paul McAuley's "Crimes and Glory" (B); download; space opera: Abrupt conclusion, often illogical, & crammed with jargon.

    Jackaroo are aliens that have made a deal with humans: in return for rights to occupy outer worlds of Sol, they gift us a network of wormholes containing a lot of worlds ready for occupation. As they were occupied in times past by other alien races of which there are remnants.

    Niles Sarkka, a human, keeps smelling something fishy, & suspects Jackaroo have agenda not exactly in humanity's interests. So he ends up falling on the wrong side of law & of Jackaroo, & is being chased by cops.

    He will eventually find a network of wormholes unknown to humanity, & will hopefully find something interesting there.
  4. Ken MacLeod's "A Tulip for Lucretius" (B); download: Revolt of enhanced & reengineered humans who're treated as subnormal by normal humans in a society on Mars.
  5. Joe R Lansdale's "Hide and Horns" (B); download; non-genre: A violent while man/black man story set a couple of hundred years back in Texas.
  6. Lucius Shepard's "Sylgarmo's Proclamation" (C); download; fantasy: I'd read it when it first appeared a while back, & don't recollect a lot of details. Hero magician must recover something from evil magician - something that promises hope of escape to an alternate realm since the Sun is about to go nova & will kill earth.

    This story is set in supposedly well known "Dying Earth" universe of Jack Vance. I assume Vance's originals must have been stronger tales.
  7. Carrie Vaughn's "Conquistador de la Noche" (C); download; dark fantasy: A magician is turning men into some sort of vampires; the hero will fight back his newly instilled vampire instincts for the good of humanity.

    The story also talks of some of the darkest things about the European conquest of Americas. And ideas that will be seen as double standards - native Americans aren't men, only the Europeans are. Some of the religious "virtues" also sounded like "convenient" to me.

    I've a feeling the take here might vary a bit by reader's affiliations & religion. Going by my own early reactions to this kind of fiction: If you haven't had some exposure to fiction that uses biblical idioms & some Western lore, you'll probably find parts very confusing.
  8. Liz Williams' "Under the Honey" (C); download: I'd read it when it first appeared; don't recall a lot of details.

    Some humonoid mutants or made beings from an alien world or alternate universe have escaped from their alien prison to earth, one of them is training a (human?) child for some nefarious purpose on his world, & some of them fight an evil feudal lord of earth.