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John Klima

Batman and The Cape vs. My Childhood Memories

Recently, 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]

Series: Bat-Week

2010 for Me Was Full of Swords and Sorcery

Maybe 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]

Realms of Fantasy Déjà vu

Just 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]

Noise by Darin Bradley

I 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]

RIP Realms of Fantasy…Again

I 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.

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]

Series: Richard Matheson—Storyteller

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]

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]

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]

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.

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]

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]

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!]

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]

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]

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