Review: All Possible Worlds V1 #2, Fall 2007

All Possible Worlds V1, #2, Fall 2007

This issue, only the second offering of All Possible Worlds, brings us a collection of strong Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. More about the magazine at the end of this review, but for now, on to the stories.

“Game Over” by Edward Morris

I would hazard to guess that nearly everyone knows of someone with an addiction. Many of us know people or children that we feel may have an unhealthy addiction to video games. Couple this with the real science that there has been progress in developing a computer/human brain interface, and the premise for this story becomes startlingly valid. That is one of the things I look for in Science Fiction. Could it be real at some point- now or in the future? This story captures the desperate epiphany of a main character that has hit rock bottom. I found the denouement a little weak and cluttered, but that did not detract from an otherwise good story.

“The Drahatzi Are Coming!” by David Seigler

Most of the time Thurberesque “Walter Mitty” characters turn me off. Norman Whittle had just the right amount of realness to excuse his flights of fantasy. Mr. Seigler maintained enough humor to keep the story flowing even when events spin off in weird directions. This story has the same surreal feel as the motion picture “Dark Star“. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“Graduation” by JG Faherty

Is it the fault of the author if I can guess the plot and climax of a story after only a few paragraphs? Sometimes I feel as if I am being too hard on the authors I review, yet, I feel that if I can see the ending of a story then perhaps it is just a little overly predictable. The writing, however, was solid and I did find myself enjoying the descriptions of the places and monsters. I was bored because there was no questioning that the main character was going to slog on though the test and on to graduation. This sounds harsher than it should be, because I do feel that with some small tweaks this story could have been much more enthralling.

“The Last Ship” by Rachelle Loyear-Williams

Well done. I mean it. Post apocalyptic themed stories are a favorite of mine, as are journey tales. This is a believable tale of the journey of the main character to catch a ride on the last ship after the majority of earth’s population has already fled to colony worlds. This is a clever story full of despair and anger about bad choices and yet manages to cling to the hope of a better tomorrow. One of my favorite stories in this issue.

“Prized Possession” by Michelle Scott

This story did not leap off the page at me, but I was intrigued. The characterization of Fyetcha gave realism to the story. The climax was predictable but the way in which we get to it was fresh and interesting. I was happy to see the author avoiding clichés that are so common in this type of story.

“Day Off” by Geraint D’Arcy

Peeling back the layers to get at the heart of this story was fun. I was kept guessing at where the story was going up until the end. It was well crafted with strong characterization and vivid descriptions. The depression of the main character is subtle; not the wallowing in self pity that typically is used to convey the emotion. I was captivated.

“Some Other Day” by Mary Robinette Kowal

The use of flashbacks to inform and set the mood of this story was extremely well done. Both main characters were down to earth and multidimensional. The underlying theme of mankind failing at playing god with mother nature provides a strong realistic foundation for the story. This is my favorite story of this issue. I just love science fiction when it treats science honestly and with heart. This story is as good as some of the Hugo nominated stories of recent years.

“Two Kings in Zalzalla” by Steve Goble

In the interests of disclosure: Steve and I have been good friends since high school. Not that that will impact my review at all. Really.

Power struggles, intrigue, conflicting perceptions of political reality and ultimately a deep understanding of each other define these two kings in Zalzalla. Perrin, the main player, stays true to his character to the bitter end. That fact alone makes this tale stand out from others of this type. This was a wonderful story.

“Beef” by Kevin Shamel

I have to admit that this one totally surprised me. Unfortunately I can’t disclose exactly why without spoiling the story. What surprised me wasn’t necessarily a good thing either. The seriousness of the early part of the tale was rocked by the near campiness of the ending. It just didn’t sit well with me. But that is just a small thing compared to what I liked about the story. The descriptions were vivid. The main character and his situation were strongly written and very believable. Overall a good story.

Issue #2 of “All Possible Worlds” was a fun read. I strongly suggest to those who have not purchased it, or issue #1, to go do so. They are worth the price.

Sadly, the publisher has announced that they are suspending publication after only two issues. I think that is a shame because both issues were strong, and I felt the magazine could have enjoyed a long future.

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5 Responses

  1. Thank you for taking the time to review All Possible Worlds #2, and thanks for the kind words on my story. I really appreciate them. The announcement that there would be no issues after the second certainly put a damper on what was otherwise a promising venture. As far as I know, you are the only person to review the issue.

    It is really a shame to see All Possible Worlds go. Jason Champion blogged about its demise and basically said it was obvious that it would be awhile before the magazine stopped losing money (if ever) and it was better to cut his losses sooner rather than later.

    Unfortunately, in the fiction magazine business, you have to be prepared to lose money for a few issues. I asked him before the first issue came out if he had any distributors lined up. He said no, that he wanted to get the first issue out so that he would have a tangible product to show potential distributors. If you’ve seen the circulation numbers on Science Fiction magazines, you know that he wasn’t going to sell terribly many no matter what route he took. However, Diamond Comic Distributors would have likely distributed his book and moved a few copies. While the logic of “cut my losses sooner rather than later” seems sound enough, I’m not sure two issues is sufficient to determine just what those losses were going to be. Now we’ll never know if there was an audience to be found for it.

  2. It is a shame it ended so quickly. I am afraid that by announcing the cancellation on the eve of distributing issue #2 that sales for it are going to be limited even further.

    Have you been published anywhere else?

  3. No, this was my first published piece, which was why I was so disappointed that the magazine flamed out so quickly. From a purely business standpoint, I would’ve at the very least waited to announce the magazine’s cancellation until I given the 2nd issue more time to sell.

    According to his blog, he had already bought enough material for the 3rd issue, so I really don’t quite understand why he didn’t just put a moratorium on submissions and try to recoup some expenses with the material that was already printed and paid for.
    Honestly, I think he was just overwhelmed with the flood of submissions that came his way. He might have overreached a little or, at the very least, underestimated the expense and work involved in putting together something like this.

    But it’s a shame. I really liked the stories that they were using. I wrote Kurt Kirchmeier a note telling him how much I enjoyed his story in the first issue. I thought that virtually all of the stories were really solid and a few were really exemplary. I agree with you about Mary Robinette Kowal’s story. It was great stuff.

  4. I was within a week or two of sending a story to Jason. I felt that “All Possible Worlds” would be a good fit for this bizarre little world I have cooked up. I have decided to sit on it for a few more weeks, quite possibly revise it a bit, and then figure out who to send it to.
    I see many small press editors that are only open for submissions at specific times during the year. I think this would help to keep the continual slush pile at a minimum. I knew he had purchased some stories for the 3rd issue, but I didn’t realize that he had filled it.
    It is a shame. Both issues were better than three or four of this year’s issues of Asimov’s SF.

    I have been linking to authors that respond here or link to me. Let me know if you have a web page or blog that I can link to.

  5. Deven: Thanks for your thoughts on “Zalzalla.”

    David: I enjoyed the “Drahatzi,” and I like Norman Whittle. Thanks for the fun read.

    — Steve

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