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Thursday, August 26, 2004

 

(A) Alexiad, Alter Ego, Ansible, Argentus

Alexiad Vol. 3 No. 6, Vol. 4 No. 1 / Joe & Lisa Major, 1409 Christy Avenue, Louisville KY 40204-2040 / jtmajor-@iglou.com / $2 / There is more good writing in a single Alexiad than in a year of other zines. Mostly reviews, but there's also natter on everything fromnhorses (Lisa's forte) to colonoscopy (Joe's tail .... uh, tale). The December issue rolls a log for nominatiung Terry Pratchett for a Hugo for Going Postal, a splendid idea that alas, fell on deaf ears. When Joe deals with historical non-fiction (or fiction) he is in his element, and superb. Reviewing a book on the British Navy, and completing a three-part review of Melissa Scott's A Choice of Destinies, Joe displays an almost spooky knowledge of past times. He also touches on Ann Rule true crime tales, con artists, the like of Alan Shepard -- and, through Johnny Carruthers, classic candy bars! The letter column is far-ranging -- it mentions the underrated Star Wars/Magnificent 7 ripoff Battle Beyond the Stars -- and Milt Stevens brings up the fascinating question of how masked superheroes could testify in an American court. Think about it! Finally, Major gives us a few paragraphs of a projected Flashman, set in Indo-China; we've got a new Fraser coming up later this year, and please God the Civil War book sometime before our breathing days are over!

Alter Ego No. 40 / Roy Thomas, 32 Bluebird Trail, St. Matthews SC 29135, subs to 10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh NC 27614 / roydann@ntinet.com / $8@, $60 for 12 issues / Half of this remarkable and essential comics fanzine is devoted to the same sad business as the last issue -- memorializing Julius Schwartz, with tributes, reprinted comics covers, Julie caricatures -- all overflowing with the greatest fannish spirit of all time. The zine is both delightful and agonizing to read. God, I loved that man. There's a lot more, though. highlights are interviews with Russ Heath and the late Gil Kane, and there are even a couple of photos of me, taken 30 years apart. i haven't aged a minute! (No, I've aged 30 years!)

Ansible #208 / Dave Langford / 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 5AU, U.K. / U.S. Agent: Janice Murray, P.O. Box 75684, Seattle WA 98125-0684 / SAE or. / I haven't seen an issue since December of British fandom's indispensable gossipzine. The news -- mostly of the British scene -- is invaluable, but the features -- "How Others See Us", "Random Fandom", and above all, make Ansible irreplaceable.

Argentus No. 4 / Steven H Silver, 707 Sapling Lane, Deerfield IL 60015-3969 / shsilver@sfsite.com / http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/argentus.html / $5 or. / With this issue, Argentus becomes eligible for the Hugo. Uh-oh. I don’t know how a mess like Challenger can compete with such a superb production. To begin with, this issue sports a fine Brad Foster cover, one of those supremely detailed illos that must have taken Brad days to draw. For another thing, the content – well-wrought, varied, and intelligent – not a woofer in the lot. Rich Lynch describes a disturbing luncheon with Buzz Aldrin. Joe Major brags on Louisville activities away from the track in Derby Week. John F. Carr tells the terrible tale of H. Beam Piper, an enormously affecting piece. Silver himself leads us on a moving tour of the Kennedy Space Center. The signature Mock Section – which Steven says he might scrap – boasts interviews with fictional characters like Miles Vorkosigan and Larry Niven’s Svetz. This is hardly all – and it’s all good writing. If Argentus has a problem it’s with its layout – Steven has yet to display much of an eye for page design. But the text here is prime.

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