Pravic: A New Grammar for Science Fiction, Issue 1, Fall 2012

At a time when the publishing world is acknowledging that its face is changing, and industry notables such as Donald Maass are encouraging writers to embrace that change and accept the challenge of using high impact techniques to “capture the minds, hearts, and imaginations of” today’s readers and markets, Pravic is timely.

The inaugural issue of Pravic magazine introduces us to content intent on engaging us at an emotional, not intellectual, level. It is going for the visceral response. Pravic takes its title from the invented language created by Ursula K. Le Guin for the Odonian Settlers in her novel, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia.

To ensure that readers understand the paradigm of words that are, “free from the old clichés and trappings that have kept SF so damned repressed–and repressive,” Pravic begins its thought experiment by giving us eight commandments for new science fiction. These form a gestalt for viewing science fiction as a tool for self-awareness through examination of the multiverse.

Its first story, “The Astronaut,” a flash fiction fable by Ben Lodry is about the transformations that an astronaut undergoes after he has been poisoned by a bat bite.

In “Keep the Books” by Nathaniel K. Miller, Sophia and Ward, survivors of a world-ending apocalypse, discover a house with the power to help them create a new, albeit broken, future.

David Gill’s “The Singer” is the longest story here. In the wake of his wife Jane’s death, it concerns Harold’s relationship with his son, Teddy, who has a disassociative condition which Harold tries to treat with futuristic technology.

Short interviews with each of the authors follow their respective stories.

“Parariffs in which the editors and guests discuss Star Trek: The Next Generation as a military dystopia” ends the volume. The upshot is that for all the “Star Trek Future” purports a new and enlightened world order, it is debatable whether that future is utopian or dystopian.

That two of the three stories in this issue are by magazine founders makes Pravic look more like a mouthpiece for their ideas than a true gedanken. Future issues may prove that the magazine is not a thought experiment, but an alternate presentation of speculative fiction that boldly goes beyond tropes to explore new speculative territory.

A version of this review appears on the SF Site website.

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