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Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - February 2006 by (Spilogale, Inc. December 2005 / ) - The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Febuary, 2006. 57th Year of Publication.

Table of Contents: Novellas: Planet of Mystery, Part 2 56 Terry Bisson | Novelets: The Cathedral of Universal Biodiversity 5 Gary W. Shockley | The Long and the Short and the Tall 36 John Morressy | Thirteen O'Clock 104 David Gerrold | Boon 142 Madeleine E. Robins | Short Stories: Parsifal (Prix Fixe) 128 James L. Cambias | Departments: Books to Look For 26 Charles de Lint | Musing On Books 31 Michelle West | Plumage From Pegasus: 100 Paul Di Filippo | Brother, Can You Spare A Hyperlink | Coming Attractions 127 | Films: A Mound Of Blunder 136 Lucius Shepard | Curiosities 162 F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre | Cartoons: Arthur Masear (25,35), J.P. Rini (55), Joseph Farris (99), Bill Long (103), Danny Shanahan (141). Cover by David Hardy for "The Cathedral Of Universal Biodiversity"

The February 2006 issue of The Magazine of Famtasy and Science Fiction is another great one. First off, I'll conclude some old business and review "Planet of Mystery" by Terry Bisson, a novella which began in the January issue and concludes in this one. This is a great story that will make my short list for Hugo consideration for the stories of 2006. Gordon van Gelder was wise to serialize it, because it's a corker. It starts off with two astronauts making the first human landing on Venus, but they get a surprise. The "dry lake" is actually very wet and the air is Earth-normal. Then they're captured by Amazons riding centaurs and are taken to their queen. What sounds like a dumb 1950s science fiction movie is anything else but. Kudos for Terry Bisson to take an old cliché and do something great with it.

The rest of the stories all get a very good from me. "Thirteen o'clock" by David Gerrold is the story of a man who, after nearly dying in Vietnam, has been in constant search for something he sensed in his near-death experience. There is a warning that if this story were a movie, it would get a "hard R" rating and that's true but Gerrold gives us a touching story in the midst of that. "The Cathedral of Universal Biodiversity" by Gary W. Shockley is a tale set in the future about a man who has started his own religion based on his ability to see other life in the universe. The problem is that no one else has been able to actually find any such life.

"Boon" by Madeleine E. Robbins is set in a New York City that has been settled by elves and other folk from Faery. A human single mother, caring for her daughter, finds something in common with them. "The Long and the Short and the Tall" by John Morressy is another tale of Kedrigern and Princess. It's the usual fun and the only quibble I have is that Princess is not in it enough. Last, but not least, is a nice little short story by James L. Cambia called "Parsifal (Prix Fixe)" about Americans vacationing in Europe who decide to seek the Holy Grail. What they find is very satisfying.

If you don't subscribe to this magazine, you are missing a lot. This was another fine issue.

Asimov's Science Fiction - January 2006 by Dell Publishing (Dell January 2006 / ) - Asimov's Science Fiction - January 2006 - Vol. 30 No. 1 - (Whole Number 360) - ISSN 1065-2698

Table of Contents: Novelettes: In the Space of Nine Lives by R.R. Angell | World Without End, Amen by Allen M. Steele | Ghost Wars by Stephen Baxter | Short Stories: An Episode of Stardust by Michael Swanwick | World of No Return by Carol Emshwiller | The Last McDougal's by David D. Levine | Storm Poet by Kim Antieau | Poetry: Field Trip by Sophie M. White Tesla's Pigeon by James Gurley | Compute This by Kendall Evans & David C. Kopaska-Merkel | Departments: Editorial: Interaction by Sheila Williams | Reflections: Levitating Your Dinner by Robert Silverberg | Letters | On Books by Paul Di Filippo | 2005 Index | Twentieth Annual Reader's Award | The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

The January 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is an issue of mixed quality but one story is exceptional and makes the issue worth buying. "Storm Poet" by Kim Antieau is a lyrical, beautiful tale set in Michigan in 1932. Billy's family has trouble farming because of a devastating drought. When his Uncle Andy comes for a visit, things change.

Three stories get a very good rating from me. "An Episode of Stardust" by Michael Swanwick is set in Faerie. A dwarf hears a tale from a 'fey' who gives him some advice on how to get started in the confidence trade. The end of the tale is very amusing and classic Swanwick. In this issue, we also get a wonderful tale by Carol Emshwiller. In "World of No Return", she tells us of an alien stranded on Earth who must find a way to survive. The end is surprising. "The Last McDougal's" by David D. Levine is set in a future where beef is considered too risky too eat. One franchise of a fat-food enterprise survives and is the setting of a tale of love and sacrifice.

The other stories are a notch below but still worth reading. In "Ghost Wars" by Stephen Baxter a fighting group on Earth must take out the Black Ghost, a leader of the aliens who fights like a human. This is not a bad tale but uses some clichés, like 'the gloating villain' which takes it down a bit. "In the Space of Nibe Lives" by R,R. Angell is an okay tale about a boy who is part a succession of pilots who must helm a generation ship to its destination. "World Without End, Amen" by Allen M. Steele features a man who cannot deal with a computer-dominated world for which he is responsible. The end is a little too pat.

Not a perfect issue but the Kim Antieau story makes it worth picking up.

Analog - January/February 2006 by Dell Publishing (Dell January 2006 / ) - Analog Science Fiction - January/February 2006 - Vol. CXXVI No. 1 - ISSN 1059-2113

Table of Contents: Serial: Sun of Suns Pt III by Karl Schroeder | Novella: "The Night is Fine," The Walrus Said by John Barnes | Novelettes: The Balance of Nature by Lee Goodloe | Dinosaur Blood by Richard A. Lovett | Written in Plaster by Rajnar Vajra | Short Stories: Mop-Up by Grey Rollins | Kamikaze Bugs by Ekaterina Sedia and David Bartell | Report on Ranzipal's Plus-Dimension Carry-All by Mark W. Tiedemann | Change by Juilan Flood | Science Fact: Pollution, Solutions, Elution, and Nanotechnology by Stephen Gillett, Ph. D. | From Fimbulwinter to Dante's Hell: The Strange Saga of Snowball Earth by Richard A. Lovett | Special Features: Why Do Readers Always Ask...? By James P. Hogan | Reader's Departments: The Editor's Page | The Alternate View by John G. Cramer | The Reference Library by Tom Easton | Brass Tacks | The 2005 Index and Analytical Laboratory Ballot | In Times to Come | Upcoming Events by Anthony Lewis

The January/February 2006 issue of Analog is a double issue and a pretty good one. Only one story was a disappointment but the rest got a very good from me. ""The Night is Fine," The Walrus Said" by John Barnes is another story about Giraud and the OSP. In the previous tale, Giraud lost his lover and bodyguard because she could not be cloned and her life extended after death. He is still recovering from her loss and develops a relationship with another woman, while the same mysterious group tries to assassinate him. The conclusion is a stunner. "Dinosaur Blood" by Richard A. Lovett is set in an energy-deprived future in which a vapid heiress named Trista inherits a Humvee and the last existing gasoline to drive it all over the country. But this story takes a strange turn in New York City (in two ways) and goes in an unexpected and delightful direction. Rajnar Vajra's "Written in Plaster" is set in late 1930s England. Danny Levan and an elderly female professor discover some odd purple fragments and a golem-like creature. What sounds like a supernatural tale veers off in a different direction to become a story appropriate for Analog.

"Mop-Up" by Grey Rollins is a classic Analog story in which a common man, this time a janitor, makes better contact with aliens then smarter people. "Kamikaze Bugs" by Ekaterina Sedia and David Bartell is another charming tale about Gus and Jessie and their adventures in genetic engineering. I hope they give us more of these. "Report on Ranzipal's Plus-Dimension Carry-All" by Mark W. Tiedemann involves a new invention which allow people to carry everything around with them. One man takes it too far. "Change" by Julian Flood sound like another story about climate change brought about by man's technology. But you will be surprised by what is really going on.

The only disappointment is "The Balance of Nature" by Lee Goodloe which is set in a world where Nature is worshipped. The problem is that the villain is so cardboard that he's unbelievable as is the world in which is shown.

But that's just a minor glitch in an otherwise well-recommended issue.

Interzone #201 - December 2006 by TTA Press (TTA Press December 2005 / ) - Interzone - December 2005 - Issue 201 - ISSN 0264-3596

Table of Contents: Intermission: Cover Art - Leaving the Harbour by Fahrija Velic | Harsh Oases by Paul Di Filippo | Sheila by Lauren McLaughlin | After the Party (Part 1) by Richard Calder | Boy Twelve by Jessica Resiman | Wax by Elizabeth Bear | Interface: Editorial - Next Issue | Ansible Link by David Langford | Interlocutions: Mutant Popcorn by Nick Lowe | Magazines by David Mathew | Scores by John Clute | Book Reviews

The December 2005 issue of Interzone is a great one. One of the stories gets a great rating from me. "Harsh Oasis" by Paul Di Filippo is a tale set on an Earth of the future where 'splices' are individuals who have been created from combining the genes of humans and various animals. One who has educated himself and become a philosopher of sorts is Thomas Equinas. He is given the job by other splices to safeguard an egg who will be able to save them from extinction. He calls the egg "Swee'pea" and it is born and grows to adulthood in one year when it can fend for itself. In the process, we are taken on a tour of this future earth which is something that Di Filippo excels at.

The other stories get a very good rating from me. "Sheila" by Lauren McLaughlin tells of a future where AI's run things. One of them is called Sheila and has come to be worshipped by AI's and "meat" (humans). "Boy Twelve" by Jessica Resiman gives us a woman named Virtual Kana. Her and her partner, Darya, do various jobs from their ship on the planet Coreyal. Virtual's brother sends her a clone of an old lover of hers and thereby hangs our tale. The last story is a novelette "Wax" by Elizabeth Bear. This is set in an alternate universe and back in time. The setting is a New Amsterdam that is ruled by the British crown. Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett must find a murderer of a boy whose family has disappeared. The story involves vampires, witchcraft and political intrigue. We are promised another story in this setting and I will look forward to it. There is one other story in this issue, "After the Party" by Richard Calder but as this is Part 1 of a two-part story, I will wait until the second part is published to review it.

All in all this is a great issue, with the usual interesting media and review columns. I recommend it highly.

SCIFICTION by www.scifi.com (www.scifi.com December 2005 / ) - SCIFICTION - Edited by Ellen Datlow, At www.scifi.com

Stories Reviewed: Bears Discover Smut by Michael Bishop (10/26/05) | The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode in On) by Howard Waldrop (11/02/05) | Man for the Job by Robert Reed (11/09/05) | Different Flesh by Claude Lalumière (11/16/05)

This month's review of stories from Ellen Datlow's SCIFICTION at www.scifi.com must begin on a bittersweet note. The Sci Fi channel has announced that they will no longer be publishing stories on their site as of the end of 2005. I can't tell you how disappointing this is. Ellen Datlow is the premier editor of short fiction and the science fiction community will be much the poorer for losing her contribution. I only hope she finds another outlet soon. Meanwhile, I will review the stories that are left in the next month or two.

The four stories that are new since last month's column all get a very good rating from me. Read them now while you still can. "Bears Discover Smut" by Michael Bishop is a humorous story and Bishop even gives a nod to Terry Bisson, author of the Hugo winning story, "Bears Discover Fire". In this story, bears have been genetically enhanced to do menial jobs and especially get on the nerves of a minister who has a thing for pornography. Howard Waldrop's "The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode in On)" is the kind of story only he could write. It is told through the words of a sixth Marx Brother, who changed the spelling of his name and calls himself Manny Marks. In an interview done in the early 1990s, Manny tells a tale of vaudeville and a legendary act named Dybbuk and Wing and their very special quest. Waldrop really makes us believe that we are back in the days of vaudeville and this is an utterly delightful story.

"Man for the Job" by Robert Reed is also a classic tale by him. A man is being interviewed for a job and is sent on a very unusual journey as a way of testing him. I can't say more but that if you like Reed's stories, then this is one for you. "Different Flesh" by Claude Lalumiére is a beautiful little story of a man looking back to the time of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. But here, aliens showed up on Earth right after that. The man was a very young boy then and discovers much about himself and humanity when he befriends the aliens.

So check out this site while you can. I don't yet know when it will disappear entirely but some of the stories for 2005 will be making my Hugo nominating list.

Apex #3 by Apex Publications LLC (Apex Publications LLC Autumn 2005 / ) - Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest - Vol. 1: Issue 3 - Autumn 2005

Table of Contents: Fiction: The Karst by M.M. Buckner | Accountant: Life on the Streets by Bryn Sparks | Big Sister/Little Sister by Jennifer Pelland | The Meateaters by Sue Lange | Heroes, All by Steven Fisher | Upgrade by Artie Nolan | Human Resources by Christopher Stires | Trees of Bone by Daliso Chaponda | Little Black Boxes by Barbara Geiger | Alexandria and Nebs by William R. Eakin | Nonfiction: Apex Book Reviews | Apex Essays | Apex Interview | Parting Shot | Artist Bios

I had not read Apex Digest until I received a review copy in the mail. Like many small press magazines, it includes a couple of stories by writers with extensive professional credits and is filled out by new writers who have been published by small presses or have been finalists for L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future competition.

The cover highlights M.M. Buckner and William R. Eakin and those are the writers with the most professional credits. "The Karst" by M.M. Buckner rated a very good from me. It is set in a future Kentucky where a man must decide whether to report a mineral find or not when the revelation will hurt the people who live in the area. Buckner gives us a good little ending to the story. I was a bit disappointed in William R. Eakin's "Alexandria and Nebs". It starts out well as a conversation between the title characters but the end is not very interesting. A third writer has one professional credit and provides the magazine with its best story. "Trees of Bone" by Daliso Chaponda is set in a future Burundi, still haunted by the violence of the late twentieth century. It gives us a look into African culture and provides a truly haunting ending. I think Chaponda is a writer to watch and I'm sure we will see more from him in the future.

"The Meateaters" by Sue Lange is a darkly humorous tale of a future which is a vegan's nightmare. In "Heroes, All" by Steven Fisher, an alien race has (apparently) conquered Earth and is using its technology to take over the bodies and minds of famous people in Earth's history. What can Earth do about it? Well, it depends on the famous people picked for the process. "Upgrade" by Artie Nolan is an amusing little short-short about problems with upgrading intelligence. All these also rated a very good from me.

"Accountant: Life on the Streets" by Bryn Sparks is another satirical tale of a future with implants and modifications to people. In this world, an accountant's life can be a hazardous one. This is a wild tale but not for the easily offended. "Human Resources" by Christopher Stires tells of a strange outcome to a job interview. I liked both these stories. The only story that I did not care much for was "Little Black Boxes" by Barbara Geiger, a pointless tale about defeating an alien enemy. There was one more short story under the title "Parting Shot...". Its actual title was "Within the Darkness" by K.A. Patterson and seems to be another 'fighting aliens' story but one with a surprising ending.

Do I recommend the magazine? Well, I give it a qualified "Yes" if you like a mixture of science fiction and horror. The Daliso Chaponda story alone is almost enough to make the issue worth buying. The rest of the stories are enough to make it a sure thing.

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