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May 25

Fantasy & Science Fiction Review

The nice people at Fantasy and Science Fiction sent me a copy of their July Issue, on the condition that I blog about it. I am happy to oblige.

As an overall assessment, this is issue is a lot of fun. I subscribed to this magazine for about a year in college before being broke and swamped with three majors knocked me out of the habit. But I do have fond memories of reading F&SF on Saturday mornings in the Oakland Bruegger’s Bagels. This issue took me back to those good memories, and is a nice change from the grim turn that so many stories have–I like a good dystopia, but a lot of the stuff in Gardner Dozois’ more recent Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies are really sad, and I can use the periodic break!

For starters, we have a novella by Ysabeau S. Wilce entitled "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire", which is a very trippy adventure set on a sort of Halloween night where magickal currents run high and a magickal grandson of a ruling family must track down Tiny Doom, his wife and heiress to the Pontifexa’s reign. It’s a very funny, intelligent story.

Terry Bisson’s "Billy and the Unicorn" has his classical warped sense of humor where a boy gets a magical companion to keep him company at his dysfunctional home and at school. Matthew Hughes tells us about a world in the far future where someone discovers a magical spell that can tell you a person’s salience action in life, your purpose, as it were. Now the question is do you really want to know?

Now onto the SF side of issue’s offerings.

Robert Garcia y Robertson delivers a novelet called "Kansas, She Says, Is the Name of the Star", which is an SF takeoff of the Wizard of Oz series. I don’t want to say more, but it is neat to see how he makes the classic mythos work.

"Just Do It" is a satire by new author Heather Lindlsey about a society where marketers use chemicals to trigger cravings and behaviors in people walking around town, and a woman who is trying to destroy the industry. Some nice, tart commentary on modern society made that story a pleasure to read and reread. Robert Onopa’s first-contact story,  "Republic" was very evocative, but he left so many tantalazing hints about the alien culture that I really hope he’ll write another story about them, perhaps even a novellas.

Steven Popkes takes us to the lives and times of replicants of a Central American dictator who were built just before America captured him. One of them may be the real guy. Jerry Seeger has a tale of espionage and assassination that seems inspired by the classic Dark City movie from several years ago. The former was a nice little puzzle story, and while the latter started strong, it seemed like an incomplete mystery. Maybe the author was more concerned with the world he built and the struggle going on than with any mystery per se. One doesn’t usually say this, but maybe he should have expanded the story a bit.

To sum up, the issue is very strong–stronger than most of the issues I’d seen in the past. I can see why they spread this among bloggers, because I can heartily recommend it to you when it appears on shelves next month or so.

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