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Showing posts by: John Klima click to see John Klima's profile
Feb 2 2011 4:08pm

Batman and The Cape vs. My Childhood Memories

The Cape TV seriesRecently, I had to admit to myself that I’ve become quite the film and TV snob. Whereas at one time in my life there was nothing I wanted more than a new Jean Claude Van Damme/Steven Seagal/superhero movie, these days I want something with a hefty, even difficult, plot, intelligent dialogue, and striking visuals. I find myself watching a lot of foreign film and what I’ll call non-fiction television such as cooking shows and documentaries.

If my twelve-year-old self could look forward into time, he would be very disappointed with me. I had this epiphany when a friend was trying to get me to watch a superhero movie and dismissed him, not with a wave, but with a litany of reason as to why the superhero genre in general and the film in question specifically weren’t worth my time.

But is that fair? Am I missing out on things that I would like?

[Read on about giving my pre-teen self the television remote]

Dec 21 2010 11:28am

2010 for Me Was Full of Swords and Sorcery

Swords and Dark Magic edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou AndersMaybe for a lot of you this year was all steampunk all the time. But for me, everywhere I looked there I saw sword-and-sorcery, sort of a mini renaissance of the genre. Now, maybe this was a weird confluence of circumstance on my part. I did meet three people this year who I feel are players in this renaissance.

First, I met John O’Neil, editor of the fantastic Black Gate magazine, who published a gigantic, 384-page issue this year. Black Gate has been one of the few consistent places over the past several years to find good, quality fantasy short fiction. And even rarer, a place to find straightforward sword-and-sorcery action. It was a real pleasure meeting John and getting a chance to talk to him about fantasy and magazines earlier this year.

[After the break there’s more swords and sorcery]

Nov 10 2010 11:31am

Realms of Fantasy Déjà vu

Realms of FantasyJust last month I reported that Warren Lapine was ceasing publication of Realms of Fantasy after having acquired the magazine in March of 2009.

Late yesterday came the news that Kim Richards Gilchrist of Damnation Books had bought the magazine and would begin publishing it essentially immediately. The December 2010 issue (which had already been finished under Lapine) would go out to subscibers and the February 2011 would be the first published under Damnation Books, thereby continuing the magazine without a break.

[More info after the jump]

Oct 25 2010 1:24pm

Noise by Darin Bradley

Noise by Darin BradleyI recently read Noise by Darin Bradley and was completely blown away by it. I got so sucked into the narrative that at times a part of my mind was screaming at me to stop ignoring the book and start acting on what it was telling me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Noise is the story of Hiram and Levi, who are training for the downfall of society. They are guided by the anarchic Salvage movement that is spreading its messages on the now unused radio airwaves. They have written a survival book—called The Book—that is equal parts Boy Scout handbook and Anarchist Cookbook. The story is told through Hiram and Levi’s actions and also through the text of The Book.

Publishers Weekly called the book an “exceptionally polished debut” and I have to agree. Full disclosure, I’ve published short fiction by Bradley, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I like the way he writes. But this is different from his short fiction. This book has power. As I said earlier, there were times reading Noise where I wanted to gather up my family and get out. Often I struggle to stay within a book when reading and can get distracted easily. That didn’t happen with Noise.

[A short interview with Bradley past the jump]

Oct 18 2010 2:37pm

RIP Realms of Fantasy...Again

Realms of FantasyI wish I could say that I was surprised, but sadly I was not. Earlier today, notes from publisher Warren Lapine and editors Shawna McCarthy and Douglas Cohen announced the end of Realms of Fantasy magazine. Lapine bought the magazine little more than a year ago with hopes of reviving it. Things did not work out as he had hoped.

There are likely many contributing factors this, not least of which, as Lapine himself notes, is the poor economy. I don’t know if they had embraced electronic publishing earlier on in their process and made a concerted effort to push into that realm, no pun intended, that things would have worked out better.

Given that Amazon recently announced their intention to sell Kindle Singles, I think the electronic medium is the way to go for short fiction. Much like how the MP3 has changed music (almost a retro slide into the single-buying days of music in the 1950s and 1960s), single-shot short stories might be just what readers are looking for. In my experience, the short story works wonderfully on an e-reader.

Will people be able to buy just a few articles or stories from a magazine? Will magazines even publish traditional “issues” in the future, or will they just release content as it’s ready and let their readers decide what they want to read? I have some thoughts and opinions on the subject, but I don’t know any more than the next person what might happen.

I always enjoyed reading Realms of Fantasy, and I will miss them. Unfortunately, I think it’s unlikely that someone will step in and save them again.


John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede, a print magazine. He watches the developments of electronic publishing and short fiction with a keen interest.

Oct 4 2010 3:19pm

He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson

In 2009, Gauntlet Press published He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson. More recently, Tor released a trade paperback version of the book.

Matheson’s impact on writers is immeasurable. From his incredible novels which include I Am Legend, Hell House, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and Somewhere in Time, to his amazing short fiction like “Duel” (made into a motion picture by Steven Spielberg), “Button Button” (made recently into the movie “The Box”), “Born of Man and Woman,” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” Matheson inspired nearly everyone from Stephen King and Anne Rice to Chris Carter and the writers of The Simpsons, who created their own take on many Matheson short pieces.

He Is Legend does not contain any work by Matheson*, rather it contains fiction by other authors inspired by Richard Matheson.

[Read more]

Oct 1 2010 2:35pm

Clash of the Geeks

Sometimes you buy books because of your past experiences with an author. Sometimes you get recommendations from friends about an awesome story and that leads to you picking up the book. For some people, the book is signed or numbered or leather-bound or some other aspect that makes it collectible and that makes them buy the book.

And sometimes there’s a kick-ass cover that you can’t resist.

Okay, I know that many of you are slightly horrified by the image above. There are so many things going on in that image that it can be hard to focus on any one thing.* But there is an awesomeness in its awfulness that can’t be denied.

* Me? I’m trying to ignore the fact that Wil Wheaton is wearing blue hot pants. There. Try to stop staring. I dare you.

[Jump with me to see why I insist you keep looking at it]

Sep 30 2010 10:04am

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #25

Many years ago at a science fiction convention, I met a young man named Gavin Grant. Among the many things that he did, was a zine he edited called Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (LCRW). It was an odd thing—nearly square in shape—and filled with strange stories and poetry. The first time I saw an issue it had a playing card glued to the front of it. What a strange and wonderful thing.

Not long after this fateful meeting, I decided to create my own fold-and-staple zine after the style of LCRW. Any enjoyment I get out of making Electric Velocipede to this day comes directly from the excitement I felt when I first saw and held a copy of LCRW in my hands.

LCRW was coming out two-three times a year (mostly two) and I was consistently pleased and surprised by its contents. Not quite science fiction, not quite fantasy, mostly speculative and slipstream stuff, well, it’s pretty much the kind of thing I like to read best.

The publication schedule has slowed down even more over the past few years as Grant has focused his energies on running his publishing company, Small Beer Press. And a little more than a year ago he and wife, writer Kelly Link, had a baby girl, and they’ve rightfully so pushed aside some of their publishing work to have time for her.

Earlier this year, LCRW very quietly published issue # 25. Now, for professional magazines, 25 issues is not necessarily something to crow about. You could hit twenty-five issues in two years or less. But for a small publication that was hand-grown by its editor/publisher? Well, 25 issues is practically unheard of.

[after the jump are thoughts specific to the content of the issue]

Sep 20 2010 12:03pm

What is The Mongoliad?

September 2010 saw the official release of The Mongoliad, a new project from authors Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and friends. The writers formed a corporation and began looking at new and different ways to create a unique experience for their readers.

I was able to sit down the other day with Chief Creative Officer Mark Teppo and ask him some questions about the project.

John Klima: What is The Mongoliad?

Mark Teppo: The Mongoliad is a serialized adventure novel set in 1241, and it concerns the imminent invasion of Europe by the Mongol Horde. The commonly accepted history is that the Mongol army showed up, decimated a pair of European armies that managed to get into the field, and was then poised to sweep through the rest of Europe. Instead, they were called home by the death of Ögedei Khan and never came back.

Our story starts with the premise that the recall of the Mongol army seems terribly convenient for Europe, and from there we’ve started to fiddle a bit with the corners of history that aren’t well documented.

[Rest of the interview after the jump]

Jul 30 2010 6:21pm

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle

Patrick Rothfuss and Nate Taylor’s wicked take on the children’s picture book The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle (from Subterranean Press) is about a princess, her teddy bear Mr. Whiffle, and the thing under the bed. Don’t worry, I haven’t told you anything you couldn’t figure out from the cover.

This is not a children’s book. I’ve had to distract my four-year-old daughter from this book several times as it looks like it should be a children’s book. Rest assured, it is not. Unless you think Edward Gorey writes children’s stories, then maybe it would be a children’s book for you.

All the same, I found the story delightful and darkly humorous. The drawings are well-done and expressive. There’s a lot of detail in the background of each page to enhance the story. And hey, while you’re waiting for The Wise Man’s Fear, pick a copy of this up to tide you over. Subterranean Press says that sales are brisk for this title and I hope that it becomes one of the rare titles that they decide to send to additional printings.

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award winning Electric Velocipede.

Jul 29 2010 11:19am

2010 Hugo Awards Best Novelette Nominees

The Hugo novelette category is one of my favorites. It consistently features, in my opinion, the best fiction on the ballot. This year, the novellas might have a slight edge in consistent strength across all the nominees, but I feel the strongest stories from all the 2010 short fiction Hugo nominees come from the novelettes.

The six novelettes all deal with identity and what makes something sentient. It’s interesting to see these disparate stories and find a thread that pulls them all together. There’s no reason for a commonality among the nominees to exist, but I’m always pleased when I find one.

As it’s been noted on the other wrap-ups of the short fiction nominees, there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read these stories yet and intend to read them at some point, you should probably skip reading this until you get the chance to read them.

[Read on for the details]

Jul 28 2010 3:53pm

2010 Hugo Awards - Best Novella Nominees

Reading the Hugo-nominated novellas every year always feels like a chore before I start. It’s the same way I feel about the novels. It’s not something I’ll get done quickly, and more likely than not, it will take longer than I’d like to get into the stories. However, I almost always find that to be not true. The novellas are engaging, swift-paced, and entertaining.

This year we have six novellas on the ballot, and it felt pretty strong to me. It was difficult to determing my voting ranking, and there wasn’t a lot separating the novellas from each other in my mind. Unlike the short stories, there doesn’t seem to be any artifical theme I can force upon the novellas.

As always, read on with caution. I don’t actively look to spoil stories, but I inadvertantly always do.

[Read on for detailed reviews of the nominees]

Jul 22 2010 11:29am

Hugo Awards 2010 Best Short Story

There are some interesting things to note about this year’s Hugo Award Best Short Story nominees. For one, the five nominees only come from three sources. That in itself probably isn’t too unusual. What’s unusual is that while two of the stories come from Asimov’s, a stalwart on the Hugo ballot, two come from an online magazine: Clarkesworld Magazine, and the final nominee comes from an anthology published by a small press Hadley Rille. Three of the five nominees are firsts for the respective publishers. By contrast, stories published in Asimov’s have won more than 40 Hugo awards.

Also interesting, at least to me, is that at least four of the stories deal with relationships, either as a major component of the story, or as something that helps resolve the plot. Only the Schoen story doesn’t quite fit into that mold. Again, that doesn’t really say anything about the stories; it’s just something I noticed.

[Without further ado, here are the stories. Beware spoilers!]

Jul 19 2010 3:35pm

Is Anybody Out There? edited by Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern

An anthology solely made of first contact stories? Now that sounds like something I want to dig my teeth into. I read so much speculative/slipstream/literary/fantastic fiction that every now and then I really start to hanker for some good old science fiction. Thankfully, Gevers and Halpern’s anthology fit the bill. Not every story worked for me, but that wasn’t really a surprise with such a focused theme.

I’m not always a fan of themed anthologies as I tend to lose my interest in them towards the end of the book. Case in point, as I drew near the end of this anthology, I had to space the stories out so that I could give them the attention they deserve.

[Read the full review after the jump]

Jun 21 2010 12:32pm

Lightspeed magazine #1
















June 2010 saw the launch of Lightspeed magazine, an online science fiction magazine. The fiction part of the magazine is edited by former Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction assistant editor John Joseph Adams and the science part is edited by Andrea Kail, who spent the last several decades working in television, including more than ten years working for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Sean Wallace from Prime Books is the publisher and has Lightspeed poised as the science fiction counterpart to Fantasy magazine.

Each month a new issue will be posted online. Each issue will be four fiction and four nonfiction pieces, a new pair of which are released each week. In the coming months there will be two original pieces of fiction and two reprints every month, but the first issue has all new fiction.

Be warned, spoilers may be ahead. I’ll be talking about stuff that hasn’t been published yet and I may go into detail on the stories. From this point on, read carefully.

[Cross the jump into potential spoilers and more detail]

Jun 18 2010 12:40pm

Clementine by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. After her wonderful Boneshaker, I was left wanting more. Thankfully, we have Clementine. This new book is set in the same world as Boneshaker, and readers of Boneshaker should remember Clementine, the former warcraft airship, conscripted by a former slave to aid in his piracy.

The book alternates between Croggon Beauregard Hainey, the escaped slave and current pirate, and Maria Isabella Boyd, former Confederate spy and current employee of the Pinkerton Detective Agency employed by the Union. Boyd has been sent to make sure that the Clementine makes its way to Kansas City. Hainey wants the Clementine back and will stop at nothing to get it.

[more details after the jump]

Jun 10 2010 9:47am

Realms of Fantasy Subscription Numbers Dropping

Recently I got subscription renewal mailing from Realms of Fantasy. Included with the offer was a letter from publisher Warren Lapine exhorting me to renew my subscription or the magazine will have to cease publication. In respect to full disclosure, I have been a subscriber in the past, but I believe my current subscription is comped (i.e., complimentary).*

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what he’s saying. Lapine does mention that newsstand sales are up and that ad sales are up. But, the subscription renewals haven’t kept up and Lapine contends that the subscriptions are necessary for the magazine to survive. (you can read the letter in its entirety through Nick Mamatas’ livejournal)

[Read on for more thoughts about Realms of Fantasy‘s subscription problems]

May 29 2010 11:12am

Memories of You: Pacman Edition

Over the past weekend, Pacman had its 30th anniversary. To celebrate this, Google changed its logo into a working Pacman game. I can only speak for myself, but a few spins around the maze were enough to put me right back into my sweaty, pre-teen arcade years when Pacman frustrated the hell out of me. I can remember the growing paranoia and fear while I tried to outrun the ghosts. Other people played the game so effortlessly while I struggled. It was almost too much for my young self to handle.

But the Google page got me thinking. I knew that sitting in my house, in an old portable cooler box, was my Atari 2600 console and a few dozen games, one of which is Pacman. If you aren’t familiar with the Atari 2600 Pacman, it wasn’t anything like the arcade game. I know I wasn’t the only disappointed kid to fire up their game and wonder “wha...?” The main concept was there: eat pellets before the ghosts get you (for you young kids out there, video games used to lack a story, you just racked up points), but nothing else was the same. Not the sounds, not the graphics, not even the way the game played.

[read on to see if I was able to get the machine to work]

May 17 2010 12:49pm

Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies

One of my favorite online short fiction magazines, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, recently published a best of anthology from its first year’s worth of issues. The anthology collects fourteen stories from writers like Holly Phillips, Richard Parks, Marie Brennan, Aliette de Bodard, and many more. In all, you’ll get almost 400 pages of good old literary adventure fantasy.

The anthology is available in many formats, including HTML, Mobi, Epub, PDF, and Palmdoc. Basically, editor Scott H. Andrews has provided the anthology in a format for every currently available reader, from the Kindle to the iPad and beyond.

Part of me wishes there was a link to a Lulu edition or even a Magcloud publication of the anthology. Of course, I realize how silly (stupid?) that idea is, since the magazine is currently only available online. If Andrews wanted to publish a print version, he would have started the magazine that way. I suspect a more accurate way to phrase that, since Andrews has created a successful*, popular online magazine, is: why do something different with your best of anthology? To borrow the worn-out maxim, why fix something that isn’t broken?

Corollary to that, why put together a for-sale anthology of content that’s available for free online? Well, for one, it’s an easy and succinct way for readers to find the best stuff from the magazine. For another, people who don’t like to read online, but do have an electronic reader they like, now have a way to read the magazine. And finally, it’s just $2.99, how can you go wrong?

Having read the magazine on and off for the past few years, I was very excited to see a best of anthology. The price was great and the author list strong. If you like well-written fantasy fiction, this is a great addition to your library.

* Success in the sense that the magazine often gets recommended by reviewers, has made itself into a SFWA pro market, has an aggressive publication schedule, hasn’t missed an issue, and generally features entertaining to excellent writing.

John Klima edits the Hugo-Award winning Electric Velocipede.

Apr 30 2010 3:10pm

Asimov’s Science Fiction Accepting Electronic Submissions

Today, in an exclusive interview over at SF Signal, Sheila Williams talks about her reasons for moving Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine to an online submission system. This is the same system (designed by Neil Clarke) used by Clarkesworld Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and Electric Velocipede. Williams main thought behind using the online system is:

[T]o be more organized and to process work more quickly. I’m happy that authors will now get a response indicating that their story has been received. I’m very glad that I will now have an easily accessible record of when stories were submitted and when and what the response was. I don’t know if this organization will actually decrease our response time because I expect that the number of submissions will go up, but I expect it to simplify some aspects of my work.

This is the first of the big three science fiction magazines (the other two being The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction & Fact) to accept electronic submissions. I’ll be interested to see what impact it has on the magazine’s table of contents as I suspect Williams will see a lot more submissions from non-US writers and from newer writers. As Williams notes, the volume of submissions will go up, but I know that having everything in a self-contained system sped up our response time despite an increase in volume.

Neil Clarke initially designed the system for use with Clarkesworld Magazine, and it’s taken off from there. In his own words:

I never expected it to take on a life of its own. If you told me that it would eventually be used by Asimov’s, I would have laughed at you.

I know that I had concerns about Asimov’s when Gardner Dozois left, but Williams has more than ably taken the reins. It helps that she’s been at the magazine for almost thirty years. Earlier this month, Sean Wallace from Prime Books pointed that in the past five years, stories from Asimov’s have received 27 nominations for Hugo Awards with a total of nine wins (out of 15 maximum). Impressive to say the least. This year, Williams is on the ballot for Best Editor, Short Form, and like Wallace, I certainly think she’s worth your vote.

John Klima is the editor of the Hugo Award winning Electric Velocipede.