NEW GENRE #4

Reviewed by Greg Schwartz

Having never read New Genre before, I wasn't sure what to expect when I got issue #4 in the mail. It's a slick digest-sized mag, perfect bound with a disturbingly simple cover. When I first saw the cover art, it made me want a popsicle. Then I realized it was rows of teeth. I wasn't hungry any more.

It's a heavy issue, weighing in at 145 pages, but what separates it from a lot of other speculative magazines is that it only contains four stories. Each author gets plenty of space to tell their tale. If you like longer stories, that's a plus. The font is large enough to read comfortably and the magazine is laid out very well, with nothing crammed together and plenty of room on the page.

The issue leads off with a pair of essays, one by each editor. Adam Golaski writes a response to Douglas Winter's essay, The Pathos of Genre. This essay was adapted from a speech Mr. Winter gave at the 1998 Stoker Awards Banquet, and it can be found online here. Mr. Golaski's essay refutes many of the points made in The Pathos of Genre, and he does a good job of supporting his arguments. All in all, an interesting, informative essay, with a good concluding paragraph.

The second essay is by Jeff Paris. It expands a little on the first essay, but applies the ideas more toward science fiction than horror. Both essays discuss speculative fiction and the concept of genre, and I think they provide a good introduction to the four stories that follow, all of which are hard to nail down to a specific genre.

The first story, Bink is Luv, is a futuristic computer-dialogue tale about a lost girl, her father, and her childhood idol. The entire story is told as an online chatroom conversation, which I would imagine is hard to write, but Jan Wildt pulls it off very cleanly. The dialogue is a little awkward to follow at first, until you get used to the chatroom feel and lack of punctuation, but it is well-paced and fun to read. The story raises some interesting social questions and lets the reader decide the answer.

Paul A. Gilster contributes the second story, Three Views from Deir el-Medina. It is also a futuristic tale, though this one could be set maybe 10 or 20 years from the present day. The story is rich with detail and strong dialogue, easy to read and follow. The main character, an engineer designing an unmanned space probe, is likeable and interesting, and I enjoyed this story right up until the end. I felt let down by the ending, mainly because it didn't provide any closure. (Or if it did, I just didn't get it. Which is quite possible.) The story felt more like the first chapter of a novel than a stand-alone story.

Next up is Christopher Harman's The Last to Be Found. I thoroughly enjoyed this one -- a ghost hunter invited to a possible haunted house for a nice dinner and recounting of a tale. It reminded me of a cross between a Sherlock Holmes story and The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs. Very good storytelling and description, and while the supporting characters might have been a bit stereotypical, it only made them more familiar and comfortable as part of the story. This one starts off slow and steady and builds to a strong, exciting finish.

The last story in this issue is Thrown by Don Tumasonis. It is a tale of a husband and wife exploring a Mediterranean island, a ritual they partake in every year. The story is very well-written, flowing along consistently on more than one level at a time. Mr. Tumasonis uses strong description, and has a good handle on symbolism, both of which contribute to making this story an enjoyable read.

New Genre is definitely a magazine I would recommend. I'm glad for the chance to review it, because otherwise I probably would have missed out on this one. The editors do not seemed constrained by genre boundaries -- based on the current issue, they merely take into account a story's quality. I can't complain about that.

New Genre edited by Adam Golaski and Jeff Paris. Digest size, 145 pp, $8.50/issue in USA, add $2 for international orders. See website for a list of bookstores carrying the magazine.

Website: - www.new-genre.com


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