Sunday, November 23, 2008

GUD #3 (Autumn 2008)

GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) Magazine. Issue 3, Autumn 2008. Pp. 204. $10.00.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

This professionally presented paperback volume is the fourth issue of GUD Magazine (the first issue was numbered zero). Greatest Uncommon Denominator is a magazine that prides itself on being eclectic, slipstream, surreal, undefinable, weird, and fantastic (in their own words, they publish "literary and genre fiction, poetry, art, and articles"). This issue, which is the size of a short paperback novel, is nothing if not eclectic. The theme is nominally "mechanical flight", but the stories and other contents range from the tragic alternative history, the challengingly speculative, and the chillingly cruel to cheap comedy and surreal collage; and from the brilliantly original to the unutterably silly or the frankly unreadable. It is great that this magazine exists and that its editors have the courage to take risks with unusual material: no reader will like everything in this issue, but there is more than enough good in here to justify the material that I was not fond of.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Scientist, 'Science Fiction Special'

New Scientist, 15 November 2008. Special issue: 'The Future of Sci-fi'. Pp. 46-52. £3.15/$5.95.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

The November 15th issue of this weekly popular science magazine contains a special feature on the future of science fiction ('Is science fiction dying?'), including comments from six high-profile authors, a handful of book reviews and the results of a readers poll. All in all, this is fairly light fare from what is normally a serious and intelligent magazine: in particular the question of whether wonderful modern science has rendered science fiction obsolete, the almost exclusive focus of this article, is not the most interesting question one could ask about the genre (one might argue it's a non-question).