Review: All Possible Worlds V1 #1, Spring 2007

First off I guess I should explain my review mentality. I won’t normally be giving plot synopsis or character portraits. Feel safe that whatever I review on Blogtide Rising will never include spoilers. I personally don’t read most book reviews because in most cases I feel that the story is spoiled for me by the reviewer. (I feel the same way about most movie promo spots, and avoid them as well. Sometimes I’ll read reviews after I have read the story. It has been fun to do this with Tangent Online, a site that reviews short fiction.)

All Possible Worlds V1, #1, Spring 2007

My overall impression is very favorable. I enjoy character driven stories as much as plot driven ones, and there are a handful of character stories in this premier issue. I enjoyed nearly every story presented.

“Save a Dance for the Plowman” by Justin Stanchfield

Strong on character, but does not really go anywhere. I enjoyed it nonetheless because I have a soft spot for disenfranchised character stories. The strong descriptions left me able to close my eyes and imagine the world outside the snowplow’s windshield.

“Sleep Magic” by Daniel Ausema

Almost flash fiction. This tightly written super short left me wanting to take a nap and wake up with a more rational world around me.

“Nithhad: The Lonely Valley” by John N. Baker

To me this story felt stretched–too long for the plot, and at the same time thin–needing more background and progression of the logic of the plot. It fell flat for me. Especially at one point where the hero performs an action that has not been supported by any of the story that precedes it. It was like those bad murder mystery TV stories where the key to the crime is withheld until the detective is fingering the culprit. I felt cheated. And worse, upon reflection the action was unnecessary. In my opinion the story would have been stronger had the unsupported action been left out entirely.

“High Concept” by John B. Rosenman

Another character story. This one is a tad predictable, but it was an enjoyable read.

“A Snowball’s Chance” by Kurt Kirchmeier

I had fun with this one. I suspect that any reader that was once a precocious child would also have fun with it. I was nearly finished with the story before I realized that it is the cover story. So, yes, we find out why the giant lizard is running away from a gigantic snowflake.

“Iron Man” by Greg Jenkins

Very predictable, this one. But you know what? I didn’t mind at all. I felt like cheering at the end.

“Penny Royalty for the Pound Mob” by Gene Stewart

I think this story could have been a little tighter. The story is from a single character, one track mind, point of view. It works because I know people like this.

“Prizes” by Edward Muller

I correctly guessed the ending before halfway. Still, the writing was good including some moments of well written humor. I was hoping that there would be a punch line at the end.

“The Apocryphist” by Bruce Golden

This is probably the strongest story of the lot. I got immersed in the story’s world and in the main character. I would like to see more of this world and its people. Well written.

“Whitening” by Michael A. Pignatella

I am not a big fan of escape fantasy tales. Maybe I am too involved with confronting and fixing my own character faults to just let go and enjoy this kind of story. Or maybe this isn’t a fantasy that I would want for myself. Regardless, the story was well written with the tone set with well placed and meaningful flashbacks.

Overall I really enjoyed this first issue. There are a few production issues I’d mention. I loved the hard card-stock cover. The interior illustrations were good, but perhaps more numerous than fits my taste. The artist bios were a very nice touch. I felt that much of the white space could have been eliminated. The layout had more the feel of a web page or (gasp) blog than that of a book. Could another story have been inserted if the paragraphs butted up against the previous one, and the end story white space recovered? I think I am being too picky.

Perhaps the strongest testament I can give is that I am glad I went out on a limb and purchased a subscription. I am looking forward to future issues.

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4 Responses

  1. Pretty decent review … I haven’t read the entire mag yet. I tend to read three or four short stories between heaping helpings of novels or fat non-fiction stuff. I’ll probably look at more of these after I finish Talbot Mundy’s “Tros.”

    — Steve

  2. By the way, I like the theme and layout here on Blogtide Rising. Clean and simple, and it looks good on Mozilla and on Safari browsers.

    — Steve

  3. Obviously, I like the theme. I might tweak it a bit if I can ever figure out how to move the blog to my personal web space.

    As for the reviews I am doing here… I have never really taken the time to figure out exactly why I like one story and dislike another. That is what I am doing, and if it is helpful to other people, well ok!
    If you don’t do a review of ‘All Possible Worlds’ on Swords Against Boredom, feel free to add one here!

  4. I doubt I’ll do a full review. I have a couple of pieces coming up in future issues of All Possible Worlds, and there is something about writing a review of a publication I’m connected to that doesn’t sit well with my journalistic side. I do keep track of what I read on the blog, though, and include a comment here and there.

    By the way, I sent editor Jason Champion a link to your review. He’ll probably add it to the APW web site at some point.

    — Steve

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