NESFA Members' Reviews


Pulphouse, 1995, 64pp, US$4.95

A magazine review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1995 Evelyn C. Leeper

I find myself inexorably drawn to reviewing magazines, in spite of trying to avoid it. In part, this may be because I find myself reading magazines that are not the ones most science fiction readers read.

My latest is PULPHOUSE, a magazine apparently so arcane that even the clerk at the Science Fiction Shop in New York hadn't heard of it and couldn't find it. PULPHOUSE started out as the first "hardcover magazine" and while that format didn't stay around very long, PULPHOUSE is still being published in an 8-1/2" by 11" format. The latest issue, number 18, is an "all-Jesus" issue, which makes it pretty close to an anthology in spirit.

[Given the topic, I suppose I should say that I am writing from a Reconstructionist Jewish perspective as interpreted by me. If it matters.]

There are eleven stories here, of varying quality.

The best story, in my opinion, is Matt Fried's "Forget Canaan." This is told from the point of view of Moses: a reincarnated Moses, a Moses reincarnated in Nazi Europe. Naturally Jesus figures into this (after all, this is an all-Jesus issue), but Fried takes a different tack than one might expect, and raises some interesting questions about the assumptions which are the underpinnings of our religions.

"The Jesus Construct" by Sonia Orin Lyris is perhaps the most science fictional, with a Jesus in cyberspace who may be a collective illusion of the users ... and then again, maybe not. Lyris handles the ideas well--and after all, what Jesus stories have going for them are the ideas.

"The First Stone" by W. M. Shockley appealed to me, but looked at objectively, reads more like a wish-fulfillment story, in which the plot is written solely to promote the idea that the author's agenda is "correct." Heinlein used to do this, of course, but on the whole it doesn't make for a good story.

"The Fourth Nail" by Pam Noles takes an idea from another genre and applies it here in a somewhat unusual fashion--interesting, but not entirely convincing.

"The Butterfly King" by Denise Tyler may seem at first related to another well-known Jesus story, but on closer consideration this turns out not to be entirely accurate. The characters are well thought out, and if the set-up is a bit too convenient and familiar, Tyler does carry it through without problem.

Brian Garwood's "Charnel House" is one of those "let's put an old character in a modern setting" sort of story: Jesus in a lower-class neighborhood in Detroit. It works if you like that sort of thing, I suppose. John H. Brazier's "My Last God Show" is about showing gods and demons like pet dogs; if Brazier is not himself dyslexic, I assume he was inspired by someone who was. Gregory Frost's "Touring Jesusworld" is another story where the setting is all, and the ending falls a bit flat.

Cynthia Zender's "Son of God" and Dale Bailey's "Epiphany" are the shortest (under a thousand words each), and as with most very short stories depend on their "punch" endings for its strength. Unfortunately, the ending for Zender's was too predictable, and the story fell a bit flat. But Bailey's story takes a more conservative approach and is a modest success. Tony Daniel's "Press Return" is a little longer, but didn't seem to have much point.

As I noted, even the specialty shops may have problems providing you with this magazine. Luckily, you can put a check for US$4.95 in an envelope to Pulphouse Publishing, P. O. Box 1227, Eugene OR 97440. (I have no idea if they take credit cards, or what it would cost outside the United States. You can call +1-503-935-6322 and ask if you're interested.)

%T      Pulphouse
%C      Eugene, Oregon
%D      1995
%I      Pulphouse
%O      8-1/2" x 11", US$4.95
%P      64pp
%V      18

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