Alien Sushi

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Title: Alien Sushi
Publisher: Cosmic Travelers
Editor(s): Rosemary Shad, someone named Sheila, some ads say it is a an "edit-free zine"
Date(s): all in 1989, with a special edition in 1990
Medium: print
Fandom: War of the Worlds
Language: English
External Links:
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Alien Sushi is a gen War of the Worlds fanzine. It has: "A Fanzine of Unearthly Dimensions" on the cover.

An ad for issue three emphasizes that these are "edit-free zines."

There are two Special Editions: Pre-Alien Sushi and Bore of the Worlds.

The Zine, and the T-Shirt

Fans could purchase "Alien Sushi" t-shirts via an ad in The Blackwood Project #2.

a 1989 ad for the t-shirt
flyer printed in The Celestial Toybox #6
flyer printed in The Blackwood Project #2 -- "We're looking for a few good humans (but no aliens!) to contribute or scrutinize material for this fanzine... If you're a scrutinizer, send $5 for your copy of Alien Sushi."

Submission Guidelines

From the third issue:

Sheila and I have given a great deal of thought to this matter and after a lot of discussion we have decided that stringent guidelines only hinder the creative mind so, as long as your characterization is in the right ball park and the story is entertaining, we will print it. If you want to write adult material, that's fine too but please, let's keep it tasteful. Typed or handwritten submissions will be accepted it really doesn't matter. (However, please, if you send us handwritten material, make sure it's legible.)

Though we don't want to hinder anyone's creativity, there is one absolute no-no. We will not print K&S [1] style material!!

As for art, any submissions should be drawn in black ink. It makes for much better reproduction than pencil. Our stand on editing is that we confine our corrections to spelling and extremely serious grammatical errors. We are not English majors and do not profess to know any more about grammar than the average person. We will not presume to edit how you, the writer, perceives the character. (Each of us sees our favorite character in our own light.)

Any person contributing to ALIEN SUSHI will receive a free copy of the issue in which their work appears. So, let's see those creative minds get to work!!

There is no deadline for submissions. If your story doesn't reach us in time for publication of the next issue of ALIEN SUSHI, it'll be included in the following issue. (We are so easy to get along with!! It boggles the mind, doesn't it??)

Pens! Paper! Action!!

Issue 1

Alien Sushi 1 published in 1989 and is 80 pages long.

cover of issue #1
  • To Protect The Protector by Sheila Painter (1)
  • The Lazarus Factor by Rosemeary Shad (41)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

Alien Sushi bills itself as a "fanzine of unearthly dimensions." It is certainly a fanzine of confusing dimensions, as there is no table of contents and each story is internally numbered, i.e., each story begins on page 1, wherever it is in the zine it appears. No credit is given to the creator of the cover 'slice chart,' the imaginative logo used on both issues, nor to the keyboard commando who set up the excellent type faces. I don't think it was necessary to use such a large type size or such wide margins, but in a zine this small that's a minor consideration.

Alien Sushi lists no editor; it's hard to tell if there was one. My impression of this zine is that it is written by two beginners who would benefit enormously from at least a technical edit. While the story ideas are good, the writing is very weak. Conventions of punctuation are frequently ignored (a period used at the end of a question, commas after four ellipses (....), ellipses used in place of a dash (--), etc. (I do not mean to sound obscure. Standard usage for ellipses is three periods when a sentence is broken this...and four to indicate the end of a sentence.... They are used instead of commas, not with them.)

The first story. To Protect the Protector," by Sheila Painter, is difficult to read. Adverbs are overused in dialogue, and the dialogue itself is frequently repetitious — characters keep talking long after they make their point. This is true of real-life conversation but, but slows fiction down. The point of view is written as though for a script; it changes so often -- even in mid-paragraph -- that I sometimes had trouble determining who was thinking or acting. Some sentences ran on and on, while others followed one another in short staccato bursts. This technique can be effective to set mood, but the use of sentence structure had no discernible relation to the mood of the scene. Characterization varies. Harrison is written fairly well, as is Norton, but Suzanne whines. (Really. On page 11.) In addition, Ironhorse behaves as though he has a burr under his saddle, making the entire situation unnecessarily complicated by acting mysterious when he could at least have come up with a plausible (if not completely true) explanation for his behavior. I also cannot see Ironhorse as someone who would take out his frustrations in a barroom brawl; it was quite clear in both the novel and the series that the man does not drink.

The story does have an intriguing idea that I won't give away, but the notion that General Wilson would keep crucial information from the Blackwood Project is implausible. (Phoenix Mountain was another story -- that was not . strictly Army.) And, much as I like to see strong women characters, I found it difficult to accept Mina as either a likely candidate for her job or as Ironhorse's fiancee; we were told --often -- how much she meant to him, but I saw nothing about her that convinced me of that. Anyone who could throw a remark at Ironhorse about his "stupid Indian pride" sounds insensitive and not too bright. This relationship needed show, not tell. There are some good moments in "Protector," such as the scene where Ironhorse, escaping from a hospital, hijacks a secretary on her way home. The woman's reactions were completely believable. There are bits of action and dialogue that hint at what Painter was trying to do, but the actual execution is weak; the story still needed at least one thorough rewrite.

In "The Lazarus Factor," Rosemary Shad is only slightly kinder to the English language. The point of view is as haphazard as in "Protector" and there are many mistaken words — "council" for "counsel," "laying" for "lying," etc. Unfortunately, spellcheck can't catch this sort of thing. "Lazarus" is written in the same universe as "Protector," but with a different female "guest star." This woman, Lt. Raven Sinclair, would have impressed me more if she'd delivered so much of her dialogue at the top of her lungs --inner strength and outer volume are not quite the same thing. I would also have hoped a Naval officer would have better manners.

Characterization of the regulars is extremely uneven; Harrison is handled reasonably well, while Suzanne is ignored. Surprisingly, Norton is a delight — Rosemary Shad really captured his style -- but Ironhorse is again written as ill-tempered and vindictive. I cannot reconcile the character as presented here with the one in the aired WOW, but at least this story allows him to resolve the conflicts raised in "Protector."

The plot of this story is interesting and original, and the final scene catches Ironhorse and Harrison's friendly rivalry well. (I also think Philip Akin would have enjoyed playing the final scene.) Again, an edit and rewrite could have made a tremendous difference. [2]

Issue 2

Alien Sushi 2 was published in 1989 and is 71 pages long.

cover of issue #2
  • Behold the Hand of Him That Betrayath by Rosemary Shad (34 pages) (Ironhorse a traitor?)
  • Thy Sleep Shall Be Sweet by Sheila Painter (32 pages) (The very worse imaginable has happened.)
  • Pit of the Leviathan by Susan Leff (5 pages) (Trapped in a cave-in, the team must free themselves before the aliens find them.)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

The title pages illos in this issue, a combination of screened photos with black silhouettes, are stark and effective, particularly the Iron-horse illo at the beginning of the first story.

Despite its long title, "Behold the Hand of Him That Betrayeth" leaps right into the action, with Ironhorse arrested for treason by the end of page 2. The civilian members of the Blackwood team are understandably skeptical of the treason charges, and require a great deal of convincing. I particularly liked Harrison's intuitive awareness that there was more going on that met the eye, even though he never quite pinned it down. The one weak point is that the characters in on the play-within-a-play (I am not giving away plot — does anyone in this fandom really believe Ironhorse could be a traitor?) are handled as though they are unaware of what's really going on. That doesn't work; someone who knows there's a spring in a jack-in-the-box can't be surprised when the puppet pops out. As in Sushi I. Shad's plot is interesting and well thought-out. It's a pity Mancuso didn't have this storyline when he decided Ironhorse was "written into a corner;" this could have made a good script. Rosemary gives some life to several minor characters, members of Omega Squad, though at the expense of Suzanne and Norton.

Raven Sinclair returns from "Lazarus Factor" in this story, a little less strident but still inclined to shout first and ask questions later. Raven is the sort of character that one immediately likes or dislikes, and I'm afraid I didn't find much reason to like her. A female Ironhorse would have to be extremely well-written to justify her existence; I'd prefer to see Rosemary do more with the main characters. Raven does have potential, though, and Shad keeps her attraction between her and Ironhorse very low-key -- which is realistic, he's not the sort of character to fall madly in bed with someone the way Harrison might. If this relationship is going to be developed further, it will need some very careful handling. As in "Lazarus," the quality of the writing keeps the story short of its potential. Point of view still hops around, dialogue trips over adverbs, but there is a noticeable improvement over this author's work in Issue I. The ellipse key, alas, seems to have a permanent tic.

Sheila Painter's Thy Sleep Shall Be Sweet" also starts with a bang, but problems with grammar and punctuation slow things down considerably, as do long stretches of expository dialogue that are all "tell" and no "show." The overuse of energetic verbs (in a single page, Harrison questions, insinuates, states (twice), prods, and presses) gets a bit thick; I kept hoping for a simple "said." The plot of "Sleep" is a Frank Jr. special: someone in the Cottage is no longer human, and is killing those who are. There are some good bits of characterization, such as Norton grieving in private when one of the others is killed, but the story would have been tighter and more suspense-ful if some of the rambling dialogue had been pruned. Here again, people kept repeating the same arguments over and over.

Story #3, "Pit of the Leviathon," a very brief piece (4 pages), traps Ironhorse and Suzanne in an abandoned well after an earthquake. I think that Susan Leff is either a very new writer or the story was translated from a foreign language; the sentence construction is quite peculiar and I think there were some proofreading slips. The beginnings of character development might have been interesting if the story had been longer, but Susan needed an editor to draw the story out of her; the action cuts off what seemed to be the direction of the plot.

The final section of Sushi is a sort of bulletin board, announcements of zines, conventions, etc. Good idea. Overall, I would have to rate both issues (#1 and #2) of Alien Sushi as excellent in production, good in basic ideas, but weak in quality of writing. The price, however, is more than fair ($5 each at review time, although I have been informed printing increases now make the zines $8 a piece) and the authors should improve with practice... [3]

Issue 3

Alien Sushi 3 was published in 1989 and contains 152 pages. Each fic has its own pagination. The artists are not credited, appear to be by Lana Merkel, Cynthia Guido, Sheila, and Roselyn Archambault.

cover of issue #3
  • The Habitation of Devils by Evanda Q.V. Zurenas (A meeting at the Central American committee set up to handle aliens turns into something much more serious. A Raven story.) (52 pages)
  • Night of Terror by Susan Leff (Simple car trouble could spell disaster for Suzanne.) (7 pages)
  • Delusion by Alice Aldridge (an "Angel of Death" continuation) (20 pages)
  • The Third Beast by Lana Merkel (Ironhorse and Debi survive a plane crash, but so do some aliens.) (27 pages)
  • The Forest of Discovery by Gene Fisher (Harrison's shot by aliens at an abandoned industrial site, and it's up to Ironhorse to make sure his friend survives the night until help arrives.) (6 pages)
  • flyers (12 pages)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

These issues [refering to both #3 and #4] of Sushi still have the same blithe disregard for spelling and punctuation that made the first two difficult going, and the editors have apparently still not mastered the technique of consecutive page numbering. The reader seeking one particular story still has to slog through the entire contents in order to find the stories worth rereading.

The good news is that Sushi III has two stories well worth rereading: "Delusion," by Alice Aldridge, and Lana Merkel's The Third Beast." "Delusion" is a post-Katara deprogramming story. I may have liked it so much because it runs on similar lines to my own "Damage Control," but Alice has taken the idea in a slightly different direction. One scene is a bit weak: in using word-association to determine how the alien contact twisted Ironhorse's attitudes, some of the actual responses would have been more powerful. On the other hand, her caution is understandable; given the sexual implications, some of the responses might have been a bit strong for younger readers.

"The Third Beast," the Ironhorse-Debi story referred to in Dee-Pice I. is both a good adventure and another example of Lana's fine characterization. The dialog and interaction between the two is completely believable, and Debi's coming of age as a member of the Project is managed without turning her into a fake adult. The flashback technique used at the beginning of the story seemed a bit confusing, but not seriously so.

If you enjoy the Shad/Painter (Or "Evanda Q. Zurenas") "Raven Sinclair" universe, there's plenty of that, too, but it seems to be an acquired taste, like real sushi, and I happily leave both to those who appreciate them. Part of the problem is the pacing -- "Habitation of Devils," which 1 tried to read, spends its first 13 pages with the characters lounging around a hotel, exchanging double entendres with characters who seem to have wandered in from PREDATOR outtakes; the next four pages have them doing the same in a jungle, with the only variation being whines and complaints from Blackwood and McCullough. By the time the story got started, I was too bored to care what happened. I must admit to an inability to appreciate the noisy and tiresome Admiral (sic) Sinclair, and making her the center of the story just doesn't hold my interest.

In my opinion. Sushi III is worth the price for "Third Beast" and "Delusion." [4]

Issue 4

Alien Sushi 4 was published in 1989.

cover of issue #4
  • Deliver Me from the Hand of the Wicked by Rosemary Shad
  • Survival by Alice Aldrige
  • Habitation of Dragons by Lana Merkel
  • And Miles to Go Before I Sleep by Susan Leff
  • Suffer the Children by Nancy Kauschie
  • Death of a Soldier, poem by Lana Merkel
  • Mrs. Pennyworth, poem by Lana Merkel
  • A Fan's Farewell by Alice Aldridge

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

Issue IV has a similar proportion [references to issue #3] of entrees at the Sushi bar. Sushi IV is of similar composition; by this time I'd given up on Raven & Co., but did read Rosemary Shad's "Deliver Me from the Hand of the Wicked." This is a story of Harrison and Ironhorse in the great outdoors, similar to Pat Ames' story in Dee-Pice 1. but this time it's Harrison who is seriously injured. The story's not bad, but the attempt at herb lore is dangerously inaccurate -- the amount of Datura (Jimsonweed) root that Harrison and Ironhorse consumed might well have killed them, and the 'bad dreams' Ironhorse experiences don't begin to touch the other physical side effects that include nausea, blurred vision, and other fun things. This is an extremely potent plant; that's why it was sacred. Any good reference on medicinal herbs -- I checked four — has four-alarm warnings on this baby and lists it as external use only.

On the other hand, the herb lore in Alice Aldridge's "Survival" could be used as a how-to manual, and it's just an incidental. "Survival" puts an injured Ironhorse out in the wilderness with a troop of Boy Scouts. It's no romp in the woods; these are real people in a desperate life-and-death situation Even the touch of attraction between Ironhorse and one of the Scout leaders (Female, folks — it does happen) meshes well. Besides being one of those strong, competent female characters that Aldridge does so well, Carol is also forced to deal with her own post-traumatic stress that surfaces when the camping trip turns deadly. And her point of view does not romanticize war. When Ironhorse tells her women and children have no part in battle: "You're damned right. Colonel! We always seem to be in the middle... women and children get blown apart, gassed, and starved so the men can go on playing their stupid war games!" Mary Sue? Not a chance. This woman is real.

Lana Merkel's done a fine job, also putting Ironhorse hurt and on his own, this time in the desert (I guess #4 is the Sushi Goes Camping issue....) and he is again assisted by a competent, intelligent woman who's out in the wilderness doing wildlife photography. Rennie could be a Mary Sue, if it weren't for the fact that she's also a perfect example of what an MS is not — I get the feeling that even if Ironhorse hadn't shown up, this woman and her dog might very well have been able to cope with the aliens on her own. This is another story that's just plain good; one particularly well-done bit is Ironhorse's physical state after a car crash — you can believe this man is hurt -- none of the "oh, it's just a concussion, let's go leap a tall building." The only thing that gapped my credibility is when, at the end of the story, he advises Rennie to do her nature photography on the Westeskiwin reservation, where it's safe. I know the Colonel is courageous, but sending his new potential sweetie off to visit his previous or current squeeze sounds more like foolhardiness... unless the Westeskiwin are one of those tribes that practiced bigamy. (Courage and endurance. My word!)

Again, these two stories are worth the price of admission. Sushi is still sorely in need of a table of contents, but the contents themselves have taken a major leap in quality. [5]

Issue 5

Alien Sushi 5 was published in 1991 or before.

  • When Heros Crumble by Rosemary Shad
  • Walk in the Darkness by Lana Merkel
  • Rebirth by Alice Aldridge
  • The Legend of the Willows by Susan Leff
  • Alien Panacea by Amy Butzlaff
  • short story by Roselynn Archambault

Issue 6

Alien Sushi 6 was published in 1991 or before.

  • The Days of Darkness by Lana Markel
  • The Evil of Man's Soul by Sheila Paintr
  • Reboot by Alice Aldridge
  • Prophecy from the Heavens by Susan Leff
  • poetry by Tammy Croft

Special Editions

Special Edition: Pre-Alien Sushi

Pre-Alien Sushi was published in 1990.

cover of "Pre-Alien Sushi"

Special Edition: Bore of the Worlds

cover of "Bore of the Worlds"

Bore of the Worlds was published in 1990 and contains over 100 pages.

It has the subtitle, "A Fanzine of Confusing Dimension." On the cover: "M.A.D.D.E.R." and "Single-Sided for the Single-Minded" and "The Surgeon General warns this zine can prove hazardous to your health if not fatal to your negativism."

Special Edition: Alien Sushi Special Crossover

Alien Sushi Special Crossover Special Edition was published in 1991.

  • Let there be Light by Sheila Painter (crossed with The Phoenix; 25 pages + 2 unnumbered photo pages)
  • Sidewinder by Rosemary Shad (crossed with Kolchak the Nightstalker; 19 pages + 2 unnumbered photo pages)
  • Encounter by Susan Asselin (crossed with Swamp Thing; 7 pages + unnumbered art pages by J. M. Place)
  • A Voice in the Wilderness by Lana Merkel (crossed with Guns of Paradise (34 pages + 2 unnumbered art by author pages + photo page)
  • The Hour of Our Death by Mary Raugh (crossed with Incarnations of Immortality; 4 pages + unnumbered uncredited art page)
  • Even a Man Who is Pure of Heart.... by ? (crossed with Werewolf; 5 pages + unnumbered photo pages)
  • By the Waters of Babylon by Alice Aldridge (crossed with Twin Peaks, Star Trek the Next Generation & Beauty & the Beast 36 pages with one unnumbered photo page)
  • Havoc by Kate Gardner (crossed with Predator; 16 pages + unnumbered photo page )
  • The Possibilities of the Practical by Roselynn Archambault (crossed with Quantum Leap; 7 pages + unnumbered photo page)


  1. ^ The editors used "K&S" but were referring to "K/S" material.
  2. ^ review by Jan Lindner in The Blackwood Project #4
  3. ^ review by Jan Lindner in The Blackwood Project #4
  4. ^ from The Blackwood Project #10
  5. ^ The Blackwood Project #10