Picofarad #1

September/October 2004

Traditional Editorial Bombast

At long last, here is the first edition of Picofarad, the publication you've been waiting your entire life for, the zine that will cure cancer, solve the riddle of world peace, and dominate fandom throughout time and space!

...Okay, that's about as much of that as I can manage right now. What we have here is a bimonthly fanzine which will be distributed in paper and on the Web at http://www.bidalaka.com/picofarad/. Inside each issue, you should find the following departments:

There'll also be trip reports for any convention I go to, cartoons, random essays, and pretty much anything else it takes to get the page count to come out right. This space will be mostly given over to mini-reviews and commentary on recent book and genre TV encounters, something like this:

The Last Man by Mary Shelley - The story of a massive plague overwhelming the world in the late 2000s. Nice and literary (the edition I got included 10 pages of footnotes to explain the obscure references), but frustrating for someone used to the modern style of sf, as Shelley's style is practically all telling and no showing, and very little detail is given about the disease itself or the future world that the characters inhabit. The author appears to expect the reader to be familiar with a common vision of the future of the time. Glimpses include: powered flight provided by balloons with flapping wings, England on the Cromwellian system of government, a highly mechanized economy offstage somewhere, and the complete eradication of smallpox (this book predates the germ theory of disease, but Jenner's vaccine was in widespread use at the time).

The World of the Dark Crystal - A detailed backstory of The Dark Crystal framed as a translation of the "Book of Aughra". Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed the movie.

All the Way to the Gallows by David Drake - Despite the promises of gallows humor, neither particularly funny nor particularly dark. Mostly it reads like the author trying to work through a traumatic experience at a forced diversity-reeducation camp. But when he just sits back and tells the story, it's fine, so it didn't dissuade me from going on to read...

Northworld, Northworld: Vengeance, and Northworld: Justice by David Drake - Retelling of various Norse legends in a semi- technological setting. A good read if you aren't tired of sf based on Norse legends yet.

Crest of the Stars season 1 - Solid midlist anime space opera which clearly has more to come.

Betterman seasons 1 and 2 - Not-so-solid anime with too much fuzzy technobabble (poor translation may be part of the problem there) and too many encounters that go like this-- Good Guy: I activate my mighty superpower! Bad Guy: Ha! You're no match for my new, deadlier superpower! Good Guy: Ha-ha! I've just developed an even newer, more powerful superpower!

So here it is. If you like it, then you now know where to find more, and if you don't, well, your contribution can only improve it, right? Send them to picofarad@bidalaka.com.


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