If you’ve hung around this blog for long, you will probably recognize the name of the anthology magazine Fiction River. It’s been a while since I reviewed one of the issues. (No, I won’t look up how long; it will just depress me.) I’ve dipped into them (I have a subscription), but I’ve not managed to finish any. That statement shouldn’t be taken as a reflection on the quality on the contents but on my available time.
Anyway, I couldn’t resist reading the current issue given the theme. (All issues of Fiction River have a theme.) Editor Mark Leslie has put together a top-notch anthology.
The stories contained herein aren’t all stories of a fantastic nature. Some are, and those tended to be the ones I liked the most. Every story deals with fear in its many forms. Some didn’t work for me, because the things the author dealt with don’t scare. Spiders for example. I’m not scared of them. Snakes, on the other hand. That’s not to say the stories weren’t well written and even effective. Just that those particular fears are not ones I share with the authors.
So, way back in the 90s there was this interesting thing called Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine. It was soon followed by Pulphouse Fiction Magazine. At the time I was a starving graduate student who wanted to be a writer. That last part is still true.
The hardback was a little out of my budget at the time, although I’ve got an almost complete set now, with a couple of duplicates.
I did manage to find the cash for a subscription to Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, all the way to the end. (I think I have a complete run.) I read each issue eagerly, not just for the fiction but the columns on writing. I’d met the editorial team of Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch at a science fiction convention in Dallas early in Pulphouse’s run. I paid attention to what they said about writing.
Pulphouse folded in 1996. Time marched on, and the publishing landscape changed. Rusch and Smith dipped their toes back into publishing with Fiction River, a publication regular readers of this blog know I‘m a fan of. (I’m also way behind on in my reading, but we won’t go there.)
Fiction River has been a success, as has Smith’s Monthly. Now Pulphouse is being revived, with Dean Wesley Smith as the editor and Kristine Kathryn Rusch serving as Executive Editor. They’ve launched a Kickstarter. I’ve pledged and subscribed. (My only complaint is there isn’t an option for a combined electronic and print subscription. I went with print.) Pulphouse isn’t going to be limited to a particular genre. That is something I like.
So if you like short fiction and want to see more of it, especially a variety, consider pledging.
It’s good to read outside your comfort zone from time to time. I’m not really the target audience for this anthology. But I found it a nice, enjoyable collection of ghost stories that are a perfect fit for the season. I meant to have this posted a little earlier, but things have been hectic enough that I didn’t finish the book until last night.
The stories here cross a variety of genres, but at heart they’re all romances. Now there are certain conventions of the romance genre that can’t be violated if the story is to be considered of that genre. Editor Grayson (the romance author persona of Kristine Kathryn Rusch) explains this in her introduction.
The main thing is that the two lovers have to end up with each other. While I like an upbeat ending, I prefer a little more suspense in the outcome of the relationship. I guess you could say I’m not that much of happily ever after kind of guy. I find unrequited love more interesting thematically.
Of course, knowing things won’t work out every time is just as unsatisfying.
Anyway, you aren’t here to read about me. You want to know about the stories. They’re all worth reading. They span a variety of time periods and encompass a number of other genres. All of them involve ghosts in some form, although the ghost isn’t as central to the story in some of the tales as in others. Continue reading →