May 25, 2020

Review: The Best in Sci-Fi Poetry with Star*line & Dwarf Stars!

2011-12 offerings from the SFPA!

This week, I wanted to give a quick shout out to two periodicals that you may not be reading, but should be.  We’re talking, of course, about the sub-sub genre of science fiction poetry the standard of which is purveyed by the Science Fiction Poetry Association via their Star*line and Dwarf Stars periodicals. Fans of this space will recall our tales of the exploits of these gallant periodicals as they espouse the virtues of all that is science fiction (or do you say speculative?) poetry with poems, reviews, Sci-fi haikus (known as Scifaiku) and more. This is where it’s at, the underground-of-the-underground, a cyber-catacomb deep beneath the pedestrian science fiction mainstream where Steampunk-dressed beatniks meet. Voting has recently closed for this year’s Rhysling Awards, and last year’s winners were announced at the 2011 Readercon on July 16th; we’ll give a shout out when the dates for the 2012 awards go up.

And last year, all that is science fiction poetry made an appearance at the 2011 Necronomicon in St. Petersburg, Florida, an exciting convention that we were privileged to attend.  Even avid science fiction readers may have only been exposed to sci-fi poetry briefly in snippets over the years; Star*line and Dwarf Stars gives you a full taste in one place. This definitely fulfills Goethe’s recommended daily allowance to “hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture…”

Of course, the sister genres of fantasy and horror are woven into the field as well as it is with standard Sci-Fi. Anything from rockets to ray guns to vampires and zombies goes. Try it. Try writing an “ode to a flesh eating zombie parasite from Venus” sometime. Much like flash fiction, science fiction poetry distills the idea down to the point, a punch line with a swift jabbing delivery without the standard benefit of exposition or character development. There’s nothing else like the rush, except for maybe the Drabbles and Twabbles of Norm Sherman’s the Drabblecast.

The works Ann Schader, Wendy Rathbone, Elizabeth Barrette and hundreds more speculative poets and poetesses are represented in these hallowed bi-monthly pages of Star*line & Dwarf Stars. Our secret 2011-12 fave? Pattern Recognition by J.E. Stanley, a clever play on CAPTCHA that serves as a warning against trusting our mis-spelling overlords.

Honorable mention also goes out 2002: Galileo Dies, an ode to the doomed spacecraft by Mary Turzillo, and Europa’s Stoic Dance, a tribute to the icy moon by Kurt MacPhearson. There are so many good nuggets of Sci-Fi prose, to many to list here, so I’ll let the magazine do the talking…

Want a taste? Check out the Amazon storefront of the SFPA. Be sure to also listen to the 2011 Halloween audio readings of selected works… remember, a good dealer always offers the first one for free!

Next Week: Our frequent-flyer/guest reviewer Sabrina will be back with a look at Fair Coin, a Pyr Books original!

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