Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Baen's Universe, Issue #3

A couple of months back, I had received a complimentary pdf copy of Baen's Universe #3 that I was supposed to review by end of June. Unfortunately, several factors intervened to prevent me from reviewing it on time but - as the saying goes - better late than never. So here is my review. However, the stories and features are too numerous to review all at once. So I am going to split the review over a few installments. In this first installment, I am going to review five of the eight SF stories.

First, the generalities:

The over-all look of the magazine is beautiful. The cover art, including the the font used, and the two column page layouts are quite pleasing to the eye. The interior, full-color art is breathtaking. It brought out the good old sensa-wunda feeling in me.

Now the particulars:

All The Things You Are - Mike Resnick

A security officer investigates the bravado death of a man and finds that the dead man expected someone (a "she") to come to him in times of crisis. The investigation further reveals that there have been similar deaths before and all the people who died this way had one thing in common: they had fought a war on the planet Nikita and had been sent back home after being seriously wounded in service. From this point on, the story moves to its conclusion in a very predictable manner. It is a tribute to Mike Resnick's skills as a writer that the story remains very readable in spite of its predictability.

The Old Woman in the Young Woman - Gene Wolfe

A story about cloning, written in the inimitable Gene Wolfe style. Contains at least one ill-explained (for me) plot jump - why does the old woman, who had been tenaciously clinging to life, decide to die? Thoroughly enjoyable, nevertheless.

A Time To Kill - Andrew Swann

A time-travel story (involving the usual paradoxes) dealing with the political situation of the world today. When I started the story, I expected the worst, but by the time I ended reading it, I got the best. Highly recommended.

The Man Who Wasn't There - Gregory Benford

This is not a story. This is just a journalistic narration of an army operation. Totally flat, full of stereotypes, full of clich├ęs, disappointing. I expected better from Benford.

Great Minds - Edward M. Lerner

A very short story, and readable because of its shortness. Multiple universe theory is becoming stale in SF, and there is nothing new in this story to raise it above average.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Free Story of the Week #1

I have decided that on the days that I do not have any news or views to share on my blog, I will be providing a published story of mine as a free read. I will also provide some background on the writing and publishing of that story. I plan to make this a weekly feature.

Today's story is: DAY OF DUST. It is 1000 words long.

This is my earliest SF effort, written when I was 19. I was always one of the people who have sympathy for the underdog. I was reading about Percival Lowell and the ridicule he faced due to his "canals" of Mars. As serendipity usually works, I read about Mariner 9 at about the same time. Things clicked and I thought of a way I could give Lowell a second chance. The story was published in Anotherealm in 2001. I was paid $10 for the story, but then, someone read the story and liked it and offered me $200 for reprint rights. Thus the story was reprinted in the FCAT Grade 8 Test Preparation book, in 2003.

Here is a challenge: While you read the story, keep your eyes open and see if you can spot a passing reference to one of the classic SF stories about life on Mars. Just to make the challenge even more interesting, the first person to correctly name the classic SF story before next Tuesday, i.e. July 31st, will receive a copy of my book, "Ghelenden". How about it?

And now, here is the story: Day of Dust

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Elevator Episodes in Seven Genres

The very first review of my story has been posted at Tangent Online and the reviewer did have some nice things to say about my story. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Indian Television Soaps

I don't know how many readers of my blog are interested in Indian TV but I have to go into a cathartic rant about it anyway.

Ekta Kapoor is the #1 producer of soaps telecast on Indian television networks like Zee, Sony, Sahara, Star Plus, etc. Some of her long-running and highly popular serials are: Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhee, Kajjal, Kkusum, Kutumb, etc.

What's with all those K's? Ah! You noticed? K is her lucky letter. She is so much enamored with K that some of her serials begin with a totally unnecessary, un-phonetic (is there such a word?) double K.

Ekta Kapoor should be congratulated for doing a fantastic job of turning the minds of her viewers (mostly women) to mush.

If an alien ever tried to deduce about humanity from Ekta's soaps, this is what he, she or it would conclude:

1. Every one person in four will get total amnesia some time in life.

2. Every one man in five will go mad some time in life and his wife will bring him back to sanity.

3. Every one woman in three is a bitch.

4. Every one woman in three will have a total face change through plastic surgery. The change will be so complete that it will even change her height and voice.

5. Every woman thus changed is so stupid that she is not able to convince even her close family that she is who she is.

5. Every human (man, woman or child) is so stupid that he or she is not able to identify the woman with the altered face by checking through her past shared memories.

6. It is very difficult to sort out the relations: who is whose spouse and ex-spouse and friend and enemy - and why.

The list could go on but not without an upset stomach.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Maker Myth

My story, "The Maker Myth", has been featured on the website of SF Canada, here. Please check it out and comment.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Do Literati Turn up Their Noses at Genre Fiction?

The almost-eternal question flares anew in the blog of Mathew Cheney and continues in the well-expressed and balanced response of L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

It all started with Jason Sanford's essay in the New York Review of Science Fiction. Read more about this essay in Jason's blog.

All the above mentioned blogs - and the comments following them - provide good reading to anyone interested in the F&SF genres.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Interzone 211

Let me start my first blog entry at blogspot with a bit of good news - for me:

My story, "Elevator Episodes in Seven Genres", will appear in Interzone #211, scheduled to be out in a week or so.