Family Guy Sunday night was funny. Sure some of the earlier episodes were better, and some were not as good, but overall the episode delivered and the last 10 minutes or so were the best. I liked the opening scene when Peter rattled off the laundry list of shows Fox has started and canceled since Family Guy was canned. I do take offense to Firefly and Greg the Bunny though - two shows that were just hampered by erratic scheduling and being too different. Hopefully this is an indication that Seth McFarlane hasn't lost his touch. American Dad was much better than the pilot episode, it didn't feel nearly as forced.
I've just about read through the latest issue of Black Gate magazine, Issue #7/Fall 2004 to be precise, and it is another solid issue. For me, Todd McAulty's story, Amnesty, is the stand-out. A solid, well-told story that doesn't give the reader much understanding of what is going on initially, as the characters reference the world we live in intermittently with the realm in which they are inhabiting. After a bit, (and this isn't a spoiler, really) it becomes clear these people are in Hell. McAulty does not reveal why these people are in Hell until the reader is able to make a judgement about these characters in the story. This was a great example of keeping the reader guessing, something McAulty does well throughout the story. His vision of Hell is a synthesis of what has been done before and his own vision. I really enjoyed his story There's a Hole in October in the Spring 2003 issue, too. I'm looking forward reading more stories by him. Wonder if he's got a novel in him, I'd like to see what he can do in a longer story.
As for the remaining content I read in issue #7, Judith Berman's Poison Well was an intriguing blend of fantasy and mystery, while Holly Phillips's Luck of the Gods was a nice, eerie story. I've also been following the Charles R. Tanner's classic Tumithak saga over the past couple of issues and the latest, Tumithak of the Towers of Fire is another nice, pulpy addition to the saga of a future Earth. In terms of setting, Tanner's imagined world is part HG Wells Time Machine future and Vancian Dying Earth. Supposedly Tanner's son is putting together a book containing the three known Tumithak stories plus an unpublished one. In the nonfiction Claude Lalumière provides a nice overview of Mike Mignola's Hellboy. Based on Lalumière's article and my enjoyment of Christopher Golden's Wildwood Road, I eventually hope to get my hands on Golden's Hellboy Novels.
Overall, John O'Neill puts together a great magazine whose only shortcoming is the large amount of time between issues. It is also tough to find in my area, none of the local comic shops stock it, and only once did I see an issue in any of the Borders or Barnes & Nobles in my area. Clarkesworld Books, has all the issues and I may be hitting them up for some of the older issues I missed.