Literary Reviews, Page 52

“Zaftig The Magnificent,” by Hank Quense

Afterburn SF might be characterized as “a tale of two zines” or, more precisely, a tale of two times. When I first read a story from Afterburn, it was a fantasy piece from the January, 2007 edition of the publication; which appears to have been the first edition. Aside from the piece containing more typographical errors than I have ever encountered in any paying publication, as well as errors made in haste, including word omissions and substitutions; atrocious punctuation and terrible dialogue, the story was perfection personified.

Having read many very good stories in the course of my readings and reviews that have apparently gone begging for a paying publisher, the fact that anyone would actually pay—even a nominal sum—for such a sloppy and amateurish effort is most irritating to contemplate. Such exhibited dilettantism greatly sets back the cause of gaining respect for internet publications, the promotion of which is exactly why I write my reviews (in most cases).

After this initial misadventure in reading, I had been prepared to move on to another zine to look for a piece worth reviewing. However, I was curious why a writer of John Kratman’s talent (a story by whom I recently reviewed here) would choose to publish in such a shoddy publication. Therefore, I decided to investigate further. Upon doing so, I discovered that in April of 2007, Afterburn was acquired by a new publisher and executive editor (Nat Thompson) who shortly afterwards named Karen Newman editor of the zine. Upon reading offerings published under the auspices of the new staff, I was pleased to see a great improvement in the quality of Afterburn’s fiction selections.

No matter what else might be said of Afterburn SF, it certainly merits the title of the most improved paying online publication for 2007. Indeed, it could hardly have been otherwise. I would advise Mr. Thompson and Ms. Newman to long and conspicuously hang the “Under New Management” sign and to review stories in the zine’s archives that preceded their tenures in office; jettisoning any pieces that might later prove an embarrassment to them as they continue to strive to improve their publication’s quality and to reach professional status.

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