Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fantasy & Science Fiction in Periodical Databases


This is one of those little librarian finds.

The Magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction is online, short stories, reviews and all, in the Masterfile Premier index and General Reference Center Gold.

That's crazy to me. Crazy in a good kind of way, like dying and finding out that there's a heaven and they serve meatloaf and have back issues of Hellblazer kind of way.

So, how do you get to them? Go to your library's website. In Michigan, you can also go to Mel.org, and you will need a Michigan library card or driver's license to sign in.

If your library has some kind of magazine or database search, or federated searching, go looking for Masterfile or General Reference Center Gold. Those are the two databases that I know have access to Fantasy & Science Fiction, but you're looking for a general interest magazine database of anykind.

If it's Masterfile , click on the title of the database. Under Masterfile Premier, there should be a link that says Title List. Click that, and in the search bar titled Browse Publications, type Fantasy & Science Fiction. Click the browse button. Click the title of the magazine. See the column of dates on the right? Click any one, and it will give you a list of that year's issues. Click the issue to get a list of articles and stories. Click the pdf link under a article or story to download a pdf file of the article. They index 1994 to the present, full text.

If its General Reference Center Gold (via Mel.org in Michigan), then get into the database. On the basic search screen type Brin into the Find search bar, and Fantasy & Science Fiction into the Publication search bar. Click the search button. Under the title of an article, it should say About this publication. Click that. Use the drop down menu of years, and the column of dates at the bottom of the page, to navigate between issues.

I almost hesistate to print this in fear that somebody will decide that those stories shouldn't be indexed anymore. I can see authors being uncomfortable that their stories are being syndicate in this way. But I think it's great for several reasons:

1) I get access to the stories.
2) It supports the magazine. Without the magazine, we wouldn't have submission venues for short stories at all.
3) It eventually supports the authors. Seriously, if you have a few more people browsing the back issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction, they'll get exposed to so many more good authors, and want to buy their books.

It's not just great for me, it's great for science fiction as a genre.

Unfortunately, I would never have thought of looking in a library's periodical database for the magazine. Usually, people go there for non-fiction. I totally found it by accident. So I'm doing my best to let people in the SF community know about it. A resources is only as good as its use. Now I have to wonder what other fiction magazines might be indexed in there.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Miskelaneous Reviews

Saw the third pirates movie over vacation (cough: two months ago), and liked it alot. It was long, but never really felt it. And it was chock full of cool.

Finished The Color of Magic, striking it off my complete disk world list and the top 20 geek books list.

Terry Pratchett's writing evolves over time, but it was kind of weird reading his first published novel. You can see the bones of all of his themes in it: things man was not meant to know, tyranny of determinism, joy (and terror) of chaos, adventuresome pragmatism versus pragmatic adventurism, the liberating march of technology and cultural change. All his very fun ideas and tweaking of fantastic fiction, layered over sort of incomplete plots and a rather thin, un-compelling set of characters. I'm glad I started reading him in the middle.

Read the latest volume of: Y, the Last Man. Boy, I love that book. I'm so glad comics is moving beyond spandex characters. I mean, I know I spent twenty some years really grooving and spandex antics. But really, I love other kinds of stories, too, and I'm glad really smart writers are getting to share them in comix. Y the Last Man is so hard nosed. I love how it teases you about the origin of the Gendercide with mysticism and pseudo science. I would be charmed if he answered the mystery with a plausible answer, but won't be heart broken if he doesn't.

Friday, July 20, 2007

As a sign of how purely catchy The Simpsons are, my daughter was wandering around the house singing "Spider pig, spider pig... does whatever a spider pig does."

She's never watched the Simpsons, doesn't really care about Spider Man, has never heard the Spider Man theme song...

She does like pigs.

She saw the scene in a trailer on TV. She has not a single cultural reference with which to triangulate the humor contained in that scene.

But now she's repeating the commercial and wants to see the movie.

I don't think I can allow this. I'm afraid she will notice how alike Homer and I are.


Thing two: Does the hubbub over the Harry Potter release date accomplish anything besides making Time Warner and J.K. Rowling look priggish?

I thought not.

Oh, wait: It artificially inflates the value of the press surrounding the books release.

How seriously can you take anyone who says crap like: "True Harry Potter fans won't patronize booksellers who sell the book early." Which entirely ignores human behavior by holding it up to some straw man morality that elevates revealing the ending of a pop novel to even little white lie status.

I think that the legal fees for challenging the "leaks" would probably pay for the print runs of fifteen unpublished fantasy writers, or send two or three talented Harry Potter fans to an ivy league college.

Don't get me wrong. I like the Harry Potter books. I am no Harold Bloom, nor Pope Benedict. I really want to find out if Snape is in fact not a villain somehow. But the fuss over release dates is unbearably self important.


A related notion: I was thinking on holding off reading the new Harry Potter. However, I realized I am very curious about one question: whether Snape is truly an evil character. He is such an unsympathetic character, I will be interested to see how his role in the story is resolved. In many ways, I think he makes Dumbledore a more interesting character. Dumbledore is a Mary Sue, not necessarily in the most pejorative wish fulfilment sense, but certainly in the sense that he simply never fails and has no discernable personality flaws. If Snape is evil, Dumbledore failed to detect that. If he is not evil, then it will be interesting to see how his actions are explained. And really, more interestingly, if his broken personality can be resolved.