Welcome Shaun Farrell, Farewell Andre Norton, Our Eighth Year, Etc.
Publisher's Note: The personal views of the publisher, expressed here, do not necessarily mirror those of other contributors to this magazine. This is strictly my personal rant.
First, a Question Why is this month's cover imagea picture of a vast, far-future space factory spitting out a huge manmade moon over an earth-like planet somewhere far away in the galaxyaccompanied by a startling and loud midi rendition of the Star Spangled Banner? This juxtaposition may refresh long-ago memories when triumphs in space exploration projected a vigorous and science-oriented democracy. Rather than comment on the politics and human condition in our age, we'll let the image and its musical score speak for themselves.
10th Year Reflections: Our AnniversaryOn April 15, 2005, Far Sector SFFH celebrates the beginning of its 8th year online. That's right! We've been publishing quality fiction since April 15, 1998. Actually, my co-founder Brian Callahan and I first went on-line two years before that, in April or May 1996, with The Haunted Village (sf/f/h) and Neon Blue Fiction (suspense), so this is really the beginning of my 10th year on-line. Besides being a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, has it been worth it? I have created for myself the freedom and ability to publish my work, and the exposure has resulted in my getting at least two books published by iBooks/Simon&Schuster. Dreams do come true. The exposure has also gotten Al Sirois hired by Scifi.com, which brings me to The Next Big Thing.
Big ShoesTiming is everythingbut luck is usually something else. My dear friend A. L. Sirois, who remains a consultant to this magazine, has been with us from the very start (April 15, 1998, when we became the world's oldest Web-only professional magazine of sf/f/h without print antecedents). Last year was a successful year for the three of us. John K. Muir, our media critic, published several new books in his specialty, in which he is highly regarded. I placed two books with iBooks/Simon & Schuster. Al Sirois was called to Scifi.com as their Music Criticknowing Al as long and well as I do, I can tell you he is uniquely qualified for the new job because Al is just great at anything he doesmusician, author, artist, critic, you name it. So who could fill such shoes?
Our New Critic At Large Call it an act of fate or whatevera bright and enthusiastic new light rises here, named Shaun Farrell. You'll hear a lot more from and about Shaun as he spreads his wings and offers his unique new voice here. Shaun has accepted the same mandate Al so happily discharged: write about anything you like. Primarily, his role will be as Critic at Large. Shaun, 26, will also serve as a reporter and columnist, and we look forward to his exciting ideas. Like all of the Far Sector SFFH people, Shaun's talents and interests are broadly based. He is not only a writer and thinker, but also an aspiring actor. Welcome to the fold, Shaun!
Back on Track I admit it, we've been preoccupied, which is why the site got less attention through 2004 and early 2005 than it deserved. That's going to change now as we return to our monthly format.
Andre Norton Last month marks the passing of a great human being, the only female (thus far) Grand Master, Andre Norton. My own interaction with her began as a boy of about 11, when I fell insanely in love with her Time Trader books, particularly for some reason Galactic Derelict (see cover at right).
The latter book in particular, with its memorable and riveting cover, cast a spell over me. I already knew at age 6 that I would be a writer, and I had written my first slim volume (never published) by age 11, so I wrote to my great heroine, Andre Norton, for advice. Sure enough, within a few weeks, I received a wonderful little letter (since lost) which I can almost remember verbatim 45 years later. She thanked me for being a fan, wished me well in my writing, told me to stick with it, and advised me to use some of Earth's strange plant and animal species to create the most memorable aliens possible. (Ray Bradbury was similarly kind to me about two years later, advising me to write a short story a week). Other unforgettable Andre Norton titles I read included: Solar Queen, Starman's Son a.k.a. Daybreak 2250 A.D., and Shadow Hawk. The first two titles mentioned are SF, while the last is historical fiction. Andre Norton was also a master of fantasy. She was prolific, she was brilliant, and she had a human touch that enabled her to tell gripping stories about earthlings thrust into alien worlds.
I drifted away from juvenile reading into adult reading quite early (around 13) and left the wonderful worlds of Andre Norton behind in a universe of memory. I learned that one can never totally rekindle the extreme sense of wonder of a childhood spent reading SF, but there are adult venues with their own wonderful strangenessfor example, the work of Cordwainer Smith or Thomas Pynchon. One day in 1996, at The Haunted Village (which will be back on line soon), I received an email from a college student from Poland, who was living and working with Andre Norton as an interne at her High Hallack resource library. That led to a brief exchange of emails between myself and Andre Norton, after Brian, Al, and I had posted links...come to think of it, maybe it was 1998 and it was Deep Outside SFFH...anyway, her interne mentioned to me that she was feeling a bit sad, thinking her work was being forgotten. We had just started up our POD publishing arm of Clocktower Books, and I offered to republish her books. At that moment, it seemed, she received word that several publishers were going to reissue her works, so our offer didn't need to be maintained. Andre Norton was very kind, accepting several of my POD works with a comment to the effect that "differently published" works of merit also belong in the collection of SF works. What a refreshingly forward looking outlook from a woman nearing 90, when many established, far younger authors hated and feared all things digital. She was truly a Futurian in the classic SF sense, when many far younger skiffians were boorish Backwardians. The Internet itself is the stuff of science fiction. Almost more than anything I have savored since the days when I was nuts about Galactic Derelict, the Web has brought back to me a genuine Sense of Wonder. Miss Norton, remaining ever young at heart and kind of soul, was a part of this brave new world also. What else could one expect of such a great person?
Editor's Note: We welcome books and announcements. Please give us at last 3 months lead time so we can present your announcement in a timely fashion. We take no responsibility for the content, format, contributors' editorial opinions, or other characteristics of this information which we publish in community interest.
Pennwriters, Inc. 2005 Conference will be held May 13-15 at the Wyndham Pittsburgh Airport Hotel. Click for details.
ComiCon International 2005 will be held July 14-17 in San Diego, California. Click for details.
Peculiar Liaisons in War, Espionage, and Terrorism of the Twentieth Century by John S. Craig (Algora Publishing, New York, ISBN 0-87586-331-0, 242 pp. with foot notes and end notes). John S. Craig is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado in Denver. He teaches English, Business, and related subjects. Here, Craig has crafted a remarkable compendium of fascinating persons and incidents. The unusual nature of this book is projected in its cover image, which allegedly portrays a two-headed man (from the CORBIS archive). Craig touches all the traditional bases from Mata Hari to Gavrilo Princip, from T.E. Lawrence to Lee Harvey Oswald, in a lively yet believable style. It's written in a series of little articles with very grabby headings like "The Dirge of the Black Orchestra" and "The Dark Secrets of Nazi Intelligence." It's more of a compendium or digest, and doesn't pretend to offer any new revelations, but wants to show a tangled skein of connecting threads running among famous as well as infamous individuals throughout the 20th and into the 21st Centuries. One of the best high-brow bathroom books you'll buy in years. You will want to drag your computer in there too, since Craig will have you doing searches on all the marvelous little goodies he has arrayed for you like a grocer arranging apples in a crate for your sidewalk in(tro)spection. Amazon Link