ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: Helix, 2008

Summary: Helix, 2008

Helix published its last four issues this year, as planned after the editors, William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans, and the remainder of the staff, came to the conclusion that the financial model wasn't quite working well enough to remunerate the authors as they'd have liked, and also decided it "wasn't fun anymore". This is a shame, though entirely understandable. The site was publishing some excellent fiction. Clearly it was one of the best online sources of SF.

There was also a controversy regarding a comment William Sanders made to a an author in a rejection letter. After some thought, I've decided not to comment on that here -- it happened after the site's closing was scheduled, so it didn't impact its future, and it has been rehashed to death on the web.

Four issues appeared in 2008. 5 novelettes, 22 short stories. About 163,000 words total.

My favorite novelette was Ann Leckie's "The God of Au". Leckie has done several very strong stories recently examining the general theme that it is dangerous to deal with gods. In this one, a group of refugees comes to a remote island and agree to the demands of the local god; with a variety of consequences. I also liked Samantha Henderson's "The Mermaid's Tea Party", a very unromantic look at nasty mermaids and a girl shipwrecked among them.

The best short story was Charlie Anders's "Suicide Drive", which takes a refreshingly different look at the notion of an expedition to other stars -- the expedition bankrupted Earth, and the story deals with the son of the man who as dictator insisted on the project. Other strong short stories include Ruth Nestvold's "An Act of Conviction" (a sex-changing assassin and a particular, potentially wrenching, assignment); Vylar Kaftan's "Breaking the Vessel" (an attendant on a god, and the attendant's reaction to the god's claim not to be divine); the late James Killus's "Plot Device" (a computer program which promises to solve life problems, with the expected not entirely good results); Lawrence Watt-Evans's thoughtful "Jim Tuckerman's Angel" (an ordinary man looking for an angel, and meeting not quite the one he might have expected), and Tina Connolly's "The Bitrunners" (children committing small-time crimes on the Moon, and the larger ambitions of one of them). There were also a number of funny stories that worked quite well: "Night of the Living POTUS" by Adam-Troy Castro, "Lusts of the Cat Queen" by Melissa Fletcher, "Salvager's Gold" by Selina Rosen; "Drooling Wizards" by Laura Underwood. And too I should mention a first story by a good friend: Steven Silver's "Les Lettres de Paston", an alternate history about realpolitikal dealings between the English and various French factions in the time of King Stephen III -- alas, Steven knows history much better than I do, and I suspect one might need to know that period (early 15th Century, I think -- obviously there was no Stephen III in our time ...) better than I to fully appreciate the piece.

Statistics: 15 of 27 stories were by women (including all of the stories in the Summer issue). That's just about 55.5%. Also, by my count 14 of the 27 stories are SF, about 52%.

Tags: 2008, magazines, yearly summaries
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