Magazine Spotlight – James Gunn’s Ad Astra


James Gunn wrote “The Listeners,” a novel which bears a lot of resemblance to Sagan’s “Contact.”  He is one of the OG sf writers, is professor at Kansas State University, Lawrence (Got Chalk Jayhawks!), and was named Grand Master of Science Fiction by SFWA a couple of years back.  He has a series of books outlining the history of science fiction, “The Road To Science Fiction,” which qualifies as required research for our field.  And he has a how-to-write book, “The Science of Science Fiction Writing,” which served me well in my more-formative years as a writer.


And now he is debuting this gorgeous magazine.


The premier issue is themed “Communications & Information.”   The idea: poetry, short fiction, and scholarly articles (but not dry reading, oh no) about communicating with aliens.  Even if those aliens are us (those mostly, the aliens addressed here are not.)


I’ve attended several Gunn workshops in Lawrence, plus the attendant Campbell Conferences (if you don’t know what those are, you should find out.)  So, I know Professor Gunn, I know Chris McKitterick, and I know the authors of some of the articles and short fiction and poetry.  I’m terrible at reviews, I am always too gushy and enthusiastic, and if I told you my opinion of the material presented here, you’d agree: too gushy by far.  But these are good solid stories (look for a fun ride with Adrian Simmons’ story, and W.C. Roberts’ poetry shows up in all the best places) and good, well-researched articles (Jean Asselin’s article about Human Evolution As A Framework for the Themes of Science Fiction is a gas, and Sheila Finch throws in an article about mythology.)


This is a good venue for those of us writing fiction, but also intriguing, engrossing reading.

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