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Analog - March 2006 by Dell Publishing (Dell Publishing January 2006 / ) - Analog Science Fiction and Fact - March 2006 - Volume CXXVI Number 3 - ISSN 1059-2113
Table of Contents: Serial: Sun of Suns (Conclusion) by Karl Schroeder Novella: The Little White Nerves Went Last by John Barnes Novelette: Wasting Time by Greg Rollins Short Stories: The Skeekit-Woogle Test by Carl Frederick * Wildlife by Henry Melton * Playhouse by Larry Niven Science Fact: Worlds Enough by Joel Davis Reader's Departments: The Editor's Page * In Times to Come * The Alternate View by John G. Cramer * The Reference Library by Tom Easton * Brass Tacks * Upcoming Events by Anthony Lewis

The March 2006 issue of Analog has a good mix of stories with only one falling a little short of a Very Good rating. The novella, "The Little White Nerves Went Last" by John Barnes is another in a series of stories about a man named Giraut and the organization that tries to promote a galaxy-wide civilization. This one does not have the same supporting characters, just Giraut, Shan (whose mind is sharing Giraut's body) and an "aintellect." Why does Shan have such a dislike if AI's? What is the mystery of his past? Barnes gives us a nice little story explaining all. The issue's novelette, "Wasting Time" by Grey Rollins is the story I found a bit disappointing. In it, a college professor notices odd things happening in his office. Then, its outer wall explodes. It's a good story but the reason for all the strange goings-on is obvious right from the start and the end is a bit anti-climactic.

In "The Skeekit-Woogle Test" by Carl Frederick, a man is convinced he has no imagination. He finds out differently and we are introduced to an interesting concept called synesthesia, in which we sense something in a different way than normal (i.e. smelling a color.) Henry Melton's "Wildlife" is a nice little tale about how a wildlife photographer works on the moon. Lastly, "Playhouse" by Larry Niven is another delightful Draco's Tavern story. In this one, the bar becomes a playground for some decidedly rambunctious alien species.

So again, this issue gets a "well worth picking up" rating from me.

Asimov's Science Fiction - February 2006 by (Dell February 2006 / ) - Asimov's Science Fiction - February 2006 - Volume 30 Number 2 (Whole Number 361 - ISSN 1065-2698
Table of Contents: Novelettes: Under the Graying Sea by Jonathan Sherwood | Unbending Eye by Jim Grimsley | Teen Angel by R. Garcia y Robertson | Short Stories: Change of Life by Kat Meltzer | Are You There by Jack Skillingstead | The Hastillan Weed by Ian Creasey | Kin by Bruce McAllister | Poetry: Alien Invasion by Peter Payack | Chaos Theory by William John Watkins | Top Five Hints That You May Be Falling Into a Flat Screen Black Hole by Robert Frazier | It's Not Easy Being Dead by Bruce Boston | Dear Schroedinger by David Lunde | Departments: Editorial: Alternate History by Sheila Williams | Reflections: The Days of Perky Vivienne by Robert Silverberg | On the Net: In Your Ear by James Patrick Kelly | Thought Experiments: Cyberpunk is Alive and Well and Living in -- Where Else? Japan by Brooks Peck | On Books by Peter Heck | The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

The February 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is a very good one with all the stories getting that rating from me. "Under the Graying Sea" by Jonathan Sherwood is a nice little story and a great debut for this new author. It is the story of Tessa, an astronaut with a very important job. She is part of a team that must regularly journey to the end of a wormhole to monitor the progress of the "ring" on the other side. This has been done many times and is part of a long ongoing process. But this trip is anything but routine. Sherwood gives us a notable story of heroism and sacrifice. Watch for more from him in the future. "Unbending Eye" by Jim Grimsley starts with a man who sees an old friend that he had heard was dead. The old friend tells him that he was dead and tells a nice little story about why he is walking about. In "Teen Angel", R. Gracia y Robertson introduces us to a young slave girl named Deirdre and gives us an exciting tale about how she achieves freedom for herself and others.

The lead character in "Change of Life" by Kat Metzler seems to be going through changes similar for mature women her age. But these changes are decidedly different. Jack Skillingstead's "Are You There" is the story of Deatry, a cop hunting a serial killer. But he is having more and more trouble relating to real people. In "The Hastillian Weed", Ian Creasey tells us of a future Earth on which an alien weed runs rampant. We find out how this is being dealt with and get a good story to go along with it. Lastly, "Kin" by Bruce McAllister is the issue's cover story. A representative of an alien species is asked an unusual favor by a little boy. The experience leaves the alien with a sense of kinship with the child and the realization that the two species are not as far apart as he thought.

All in all, a very good issue and well worth picking up.

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - March 2006 by Gordon Van Gelder (Spilogale, Inc. January 2006 / ) - Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - March 2006. On sale January 30, 2006.
Table of Contents: Novellas: The Revivalist -60- Albert E. Cowdrey | Novelettes: Shambhala -6- Alex Irvine | Short Stories: The True History of the Picky Princess -49- John Morressy | From the Mouths of Babes -106- Trent Hergenrader | The Capacity to Appear Mindless -121- Mike Shultz | Czesko -136- Ef Deal | Intolerance -143- Robert Reed | Departments: Books to Look For -33- Charles de Lint | Books -38- Robert K.J. Killheffer | Films: A Labor of Love | Thumbs -115- Kathi Maio | Coming Attractions -160- | Curiosities -162- Gregory J. Koster | Cartoons: Tom Swick (48), Joseph Farris (114), Danny Shanahan (135) | Cover: "Painful Upgrade" by Mark Evans

The March 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another great one and the magazine remains the best in the field. The best story in the issue, getting an Excellent rating from me, is "Intolerance" by Robert Reed. As the story begins, we are introduced to what appears to be a venomous two-year old boy named Cabe McAllister. He's not actually two and not an adult either, but uses his status to make people miserable. What truly makes the story stand out is the conclusion, one of the scariest I've ever encountered.

The rest of the stories in this issue all got a Very Good from me. "The Revivalist" is a novella by Albert E. Cowdrey and unusual for his stories in that it does not take place in New Orleans, but in the Baltimore area. When the story opens, Edward Fogarty is a boy, born in the 1890s who sleeps a lot and ages at a slow rate. When he realizes this condition, he resolves to use this to live a very long life. How he lives through the 20th century and what he realizes when he looks back on it make for a great story. The issue also has a novelet, "Shambala" by Alex Irvine. In the future, many people are living forever in a virtual world. The problem is that things are breaking down and this results in a ton of problems. This seems like it could easily be turned into a novel as Irvine creates a number of characters and explores a lot of issues that he could spend more time with.

The remaining stories are (except for one) a humorous bunch. The one serious story is "From the Mouths of Babes" by Trent Hergenrader and is his first published story. What starts out seeming like a story about a father and his very precocious son takes a very interesting turn. I'll look forward to more stories from Hergenrader in the future. "The True History of the Picky Princess" by John Morressy is not a tale of Kedrigern and Princess but is a hilarious spin on a classic fairy tale. Watch out for even a good fairy's gifts! "The Capacity to Appear Mindless" by Mike Shultz tells us about a teacher with an unusual problem. He's a goblin teaching a class of mostly goblins but three human children. A teacher's lot is never an easy one. "Czesko" by Ef Deal is a wild tale of a man who wants to be baptized even though he's dead. Then, the story gets very strange.

This issue does not actually go on sale until January 30, but remember to look for it. Although, you should really be subscribing!

Paradox: Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction by Paradox Publications (Paradox Publications Winter 2005-2006 / ) - Paradox - The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction - Issue 8 - Winter 2005-2006 - ISSN 1548-0593
Table of Contents: Fiction: Anezka by Bruce Durham * O. Pioneer by Maya Kathryn Bohnhoff * Draw They Breath in Pain by Carrie Vaughan * Cassandra's Cargo by D.J. Cockburn * Forty Shades of Gray by Tom Welch * Power Play by Jack Whyte Nonfiction: The Sidewise Award Winners: A Retrospective by Greg Beatty Poetry: Reflections of Lucrezia Borgia by Jeremy L. Goldberg * Lies by Jane Yolen * Cannoneer by Michael Hanson * War Memorial: Edinburgh by Jane Yolen * A Byzantine Emperor Going into Exile by Darrell Schweitzer Departments: From the Editor * New Books * Interview: Darrell Schweitzer * Film * Contributor Biographies

As its subtitle indicates, Paradox provides a mix of fiction, some of it straight historical. You need a fair knowledge of history to appreciate these stories but if you are a history buff then this is for you. I found the lead story, "Anezka" by Bruce Durham a bit disappointing. Anezka is a woman who knows how to run a royal household. She is asked by her king to organize the home of his guest, Hannibal of Carthage. I know really very little about Hannibal and might have appreciated the story more if I did. As it was, I did not find it all that interesting. The next story is a very ambitious alternate history. In "O, Pioneer", Columbus arrives in the New World but finds something different from our history. In a way, he finds what he is looking for but this is not a good thing.

I enjoyed "Draw Thy Breath in Pain" by Carrie Vaughn more than the previous two. William Shakespeare is asked to write a play by a foreign man named Horatio, who was witness to certain events in another country. This makes for a different take on what might have been behind a classic play. "Cassandra's Cargo" is a horror tale, taking place in the early 19th century. A man finds out what the life of an African slave is like and this changes his perspective. "Forty Shades of Gray" is a straight historical tale by Tom Welch. During World War II, an Irish nationalist smuggles a German agent into Northern Ireland. The experience has a profound effect on him. This is an excellent example of a historical short story and was my favorite in the issue. Lastly, "Power Play" by Jack Whyte is mostly a conversation between a Roman and a Hebrew in occupied Palestine. It was little more than that.

Again, I recommend this magazine to the real historical buff.

Shimmer - Vol. 1 Issue 1 by Beth Wodinski (Beth Wodinski August 2005 / ) - Shimmer - Vol. 1 Issue 1, August 2005 - website: www.shimmerzine.com
Table of Contents: Fiction: Sour Hands by Kuzhali Manickavel * Nobody's Fool by Edward Cox * Lucy by Chrissy Ellsworth * White Burn by Stephen M. Dare * Valley of the Shadow by Dario Ciriello * An Interrupted Nap by Richard S. Crawford * Finders Keepers by J. Albert Bell * The Shoppers by Michael Matthews * And Death Will Seize the Doctor, Too by Jeremiah Swanson * A Convocation of Clowns by Mel Cameron Non-Fiction: John Joseph Adams reviews The Traveler Departments: Letters to the Editor * Contributors * Shimmer Staff

This is a nicely produced new small press publication. The editor states that she wants a "particular kind of short story - the combination of a strange and original idea, a well-developed plot and characters, delivered with exquisite writing." Does it succeed at this? Let's see.

"Sour Hands" by Kuzhali Manickavel is set (I presume) in the author's native India. Ezhil's grandmother is a venomous woman who tells her that the reason that the mango the little girl ate was sour is because she is evil and soured it. The girl believes it and lives her life accordingly. "Nobody's Fool" by Edward Cox is a chilling little tale of a man who becomes obsessed with writing using an owl's feather that had been sold to him. In "White Burn" by Stephen M. Dare, we get a predictable tale about a bus driver haunted by a near-miss accident. It's the only disappointing tale in the issue. "Valley of the Shadow" by Dario Ciriello is the cover story and the longest one. In this story, the ghosts of the dead have returned to share the world with the living. That's all the dead of history for a nice little story.

Richard S. Crawford's "An Interrupted Nap" is an amusing little take on The Rapture. "Finders Keepers" by J. Albert Bell is another horror tale about an evil old man who is expecting a mysterious visitor and the return of something he wants. Michael Matthews gives us an amusing but nasty view of people shopping. In "And Death Will Seize the Doctor, Too" by Jeremiah Swanson we get another chilling story about a man with a special power and what he must do with it. Last, "A Convocation of Clowns" by Mel Cameron will appeal to the clown-haters out there (which is probably most people.)

So yes, this is well worth the $5. Buy it!

Trunk Stories #3 by William Smith (Editor) (Hangfire Publishers November 2005 / ) - Trunk Stories #3, November 2005 - Website www.TrunkStories.com
Table of Contents: Fiction: The Tamer by Neil Ayres * The Good Part by Carole Lanham * Unvincible by Michael Northrop * Subliminal Verses by Brett Alexander Savory * Silent Corners by Nate Southard * Manfleas by William Wilde Poetry: Haunted House by Christoph Meyer * Orange-Green Monsters by Kristine Ong Muslim Non-Fiction: Baby Secret by Margaret Crocker * Why I Hate Penn Station by Veronica Schanoes

This is the second issue of Trunk Stories that I have received for review. I liked the previous issue and this one as well. The lead story, "The Good Part" by Carole Lanham is a chilling little tale about how a little boy handles things when his sister starts sucking people's blood. This was as good as any story I have read in a professional publication. "Silent Corners" is a good little short tale about a college student who looks for an acoustic 'dead spot' in his dorm room. Bad Idea. In "The Tamer" by Neil Ayres, a girl named Jasmine wins the trust of a little bird. The story was okay but there was not much to it.

"Unvincible" by Michael Northrop is another horror story about a boy who loses his leg to the bite of a brown recluse spider. He seems to learn to deal with his loss but the end will shock you. Brett Alexander Savory's very short story, "Subliminal Verses" is an odd little piece about phrases that occupy our minds, poisoning our world and how they got there. The last story is "Manfleas" by William Wilde. For some reason, the world has become infested by man-size creatures who resemble fleas. We get a look into how one family deals with this phenomena.

As small press publications go, this is a very good one. I recommend it highly.

Weird Tales - July 2005 by Darrell Schweitzer (DNA Publications July 2005 / ) - Weird Tales - July 2005 - ISSN 0898-5073, Editor: Darrell Schweitzer
Table of Contents: Fiction: Ripper (Part 1 of 2) by William F. Nolan * Ghost Town by Jack Williamson * The Most Beautiful Dead Woman in the World by Darrell Schweitzer * The Face by the River by Clark Ashton Smith * Returns by Jack Ketchum * The Invading Spirit by Fred Chappell Cover Art: George Barr Verse: Reanimated by Darrell Schweitzer * Where the Witches Dwell by Frederic S. Durbin * Illustrated Limerick by George Barr * Toadstools and the Unhappy Wife by Marina Lee Sable Features: The Eyrie * Shadowings by Doug Winter

I have not reviewed Weird Tales previously but I am going to start now. This is a quarterly magazine and the most current issue that I could purchase at PhilCon was the July 2005 issue. I was told a new one will be published shortly. When I get a copy of that, I'll review the stories in it, too. I will put off reviewing the serialized story "Ripper!" until then.

It's always wonderful to read something from science fiction's national treasure, Jack Williamson. He, once again, shows us he can write a spooky little tale, not just "hard" science fiction. In this story, a man and his fiancée arrive in her hometown at Christmas to be married in her parent's living room. They find everything dark and the people comatose. Williamson gives us a nice little tale about combating this phenomena. We are told that "The Most Beautiful Dead Woman In The World" by Darrell Schweitzer was first printed in Interzone but it must have been a while back. Schweitzer introduces us to an odd little town in which people routinely accept dead bodies into their homes. One exceptionally beautiful corpse makes trouble for one of the town's inhabitants.

It is no surprise that "The Face By The River" by Clark Ashton Smith is more than 50 years old but it has only been reprinted in a small Clark fanzine, so it is, for all intents and purposes, new. Smith was known for his dark fantasies and this is no exception. A man murders a woman and throws her into a river, but that is only the beginning of this chilling little tale. In "Returns" by Jack Ketchum, a man dies and his ghost haunts his survivors. But the reason is very unusual. Rounding out the fiction in this issue is "The Invading Spirit" by Fred Chappell. This is a nasty story about two children with overactive imaginations. Claudia convinces her little brother that their grandmother must be protected from an Invading Spirit. What starts as a child's game turns deadly.

At least as far as this issue goes, this version of Weird Tales is a worthy successor to the original magazine and is well worth buying.

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