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Book Notes: New Genre, Issue 5

Another book-format magazine, New Genre is a slipstream periodical, mainly science fiction and horror.

Edited by Adam Golaski and Jeff Paris.
New Genre Enterprises, Inc., Spring 2007
Started: Wednesday, January 9th
Finished: Thursday, January 10th

I met Adam Golaski at Boskone 44 last February and had several friendly and enlightening conversations with him about horror and the small press business; as a result, I picked up an issue of New Genre at his booth and read it and enjoyed it thoroughly. At Boskone ReaderCon, I knew he was supposed to be there, but when I went looking for him, I discovered that he had been called away from the conference because his wife was in labor! I picked up two more issues of the journal there (numbers 4 and 5) and they've been in my to-read pile since. Right now I'm convalescing after surgery on my sinuses (I'll post about that later), so I'm getting quite a bit of reading done.

New Genre is a solid, well-edited publication, and already a large number of stories it's published have won awards or been collected or mentioned in "Best Of" anthologies, so it appears that Golaski and Paris really know what they're doing. Overall, issue 5's stories weren't nearly as compelling as the ones in issue 2 (which was the first issue I bought and read), but Anil Menon's "Dialethia" really grabbed me--set in the 1930s and 40s, it deals with mathematics and truth and storytelling, and even includes Kurt Gödel as a character. I just finished reading Douglas Hofstadter's Pulitzer-winning opus Gödel, Escher, Bach a week or so ago (having started it last Spring) so all these concepts are still tumbling around in my head and the story really struck a chord with me.

Unfortunately, the other four stories in the issue left me fairly cold. They were, for the most part, interesting to read, and well-written, but none of them really felt like they came to a satisfying conclusion. I know that the idea of "a satisfying conclusion" is different for everyone, and not even entirely necessary to make a good story, and that some would argue that leaving things somewhat wide open can be more fascinating and thought-provoking, but I feel that it has to be done very carefully, and I don't think that these stories really pulled it off. In my own writing, finding a good way to wrap a story up is one of the hardest parts. Numerous times I've put down a few thousand words only to discover that I can't for the life of me figure out what it all leads to, which is discouraging to say the least, so I know how much of a challenge it can be.

"The Strange Summer of Duke Bogardis" by Joseph A. Ezzo ended in such a way that I felt like I had just read the beginning of what might be an interesting novel, but the rest was nowhere to be found. "Honeymoon" by Jaime Corbacho was unique and mesmerizing, but fizzled at the end with seemingly none of the various inter-character tensions resolved or even changed. "Splitfoot" by Paul Walther seemed to set up an interesting scenario that played out in a predictable fashion with no resolution, and "The Third War of Information" by John Rubens felt only barely comprehensible--a large mishmash of ideas and history thrown together but explored only very shallowly.

Overall, New Genre issue 5 felt very weak compared to issue 2, and while I feel strongly that it's a good, solid journal, this isn't the issue to buy. I've still got issue 4 waiting for me, so I'll let you know what I think about that one. Two of its stories were selected for "best of" horror anthologies, so my hopes are high.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2008 07:43 am (UTC)

Thank you so much for posting your thoughts on New Genre--it means a lot to me to know that anyone's reading the journal at all. Glad you liked #2 so much--sorry #5 didn't live up to your high hopes. I hope #4 makes up for it. At next readercon (you wrote Boskone),I intend to have issue #6--as of yet very incomplete, and edited 100% by me.

I picked Jaime's story, and am especially proud of it. I'd just finished rereading all of Charles Grant's Shadows series (I wrote an article about the series for Supernatural Tales), and I felt that Jaime's story was the epitome of "quiet horror" that Grant championed. Perhaps too quiet for some.

Anyhow, I'll be looking forward to hearing what you have to say about #4. I'll be at Boskone again this year. If you're there, come by my table and I'll give you #1 & #3 to complete your set--so long as you promise to review them.

Adam Golaski
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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