Pulphouse #16

Jonathan Bond’s editorial — A little purple, but interesting. Much better than the “we are the Young Turks” editorial from the last issue. The purpleness is just a person trying too hard. Relax, Bond. Let the stories speak for themselves– use the editorial for another subject of interest to the readership, like small press economics, or the price of housing in Eugene.

  • Billie Sue Mosiman, “No Restrictions” — Not a story for the language squeamish. This contains a lot of pointed material, although it seems that there is a whole bunch more serial killers out there in fiction than there are in the real world. I wonder if the 80s/90s period of mystery/horror literature will be called the time of the serial killer? The prison stuff here rings authentic, and is interesting. It’s a little over-written, especially the stream-of-conciousness bits where he loses himself in the killing frenzy, but that’s thankfully only 10% of the total.
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans, “Monster Kidnaps Girl at Mad Scientist’s Command” — Sure, he wrote it for the title. It’s a gimmick story in that way. But the characters themselves are pretty likeable, and the story is readable. He probably could have sold it to Asimov’s if the sexual references could have been toned down to middle-class America. I liked it, and I’m a tough audience for Watt-Evans.
  • Carrie Richerson, “Phases” — Gross. Meant to be gross and disturbing. Sufficiently short enough not to be annoying, but I think I wanted more. The be-all here seems to be breaking the taboo on mentioning menstruation.
  • Sonia Lynn Oris, “Motherhood” — I don’t know what it means, but it was interesting. There’s a level here of subtlety that may be present, or I may just be looking for more than what was written. The writing flows, and the characters are unique, but what’s it all about? Do you really want your readers to be this far in the dark?
  • Barry Malzberg, “From the Heart’s Basement” — Barry must have overdosed on John Clute before sitting down to write this essay because it’s a remarkable imitation. Too alike. I didn’t like spending the effort to translate it into English, so I skimmed it.
  • Lucy Taylor, “Close to the Bone” — Continuing the issue’s theme of graphic grossness, we get another redneck horror story. You know, I don’t really have anything against the subgenre, but it never seems to break the surface. Must I mention Lansdale’s “Night They Missed the Horror Show” again? More horror authors (Lansdale included) need to go back to this story and realize that this is the goal. No one seems to be aiming that high anymore.
  • Charles de Lint, “The Eclectic Muse” — Nice review of Sheri Tepper’s Beauty, especially worthwhile for the list of fairy-tale retellings in novel form that he starts it off with. Can’t judge whether or not I agree with the review since I haven’t read the book.
  • Ray Vukevich, “There is Danger” — There is confusion. Interesting set-up here–is Selena a goddess, an alien, what?–but the conclusion settles nothing in that regard, and the protagonist isn’t clearly enough drawn for us to get a feeling for any change that he went through. Thankfully short for such an unsatisfying conclusion.
  • Mike Resnick, “The Mummy” — Another Lucifer Jones story, continuing in its tradition of light-hearted, well-done humorous adventure. Cotton candy for the mind–not very filling, but it won’t hurt you either.
  • Steven Utley, “Little Whalers” — A one-joke story, adeptly accomplished. It’s a short short, so it wasn’t painful to get to the joke, either.

[Finished 7 January 1994]

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