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Analog - April 2006 by ( March 2006 / ) - Analog - April 2006 - Vol. CXXVI No. 4 - ISSN 1059-2113
Table of Contents:
Novella: Boundary Condition by Wil McCarthy Novelettes: Lady Be Good by John G. Hemry / Numismatist by Richard A. Lovett Short Stories: Nothing to Fear But by Stephen L. Burns / The Lowland Expedition by Stephen Baxter / Lighthouse by Michael Shara & Jack McDevitt Science Fact: The Shape of Wings to Come by Alexis Glynn Latner / Probability Zero / The Emancipation of the Knowledge Robots by Carl Frederick / Reader's Departments: The Editor's Page / In Times to Come / The Alternate View by Jeffrey D. Kooistra / Biolog: Stephen Baxter by Richard A. Lovett / The Reference Library by Tom Easton / Brass Tacks / Upcoming Events by Anthony Lewis

The March 2006 issue of Analogis a good one with only the novella just a little disappointing. Still, the other stories get a Very Good from me.

"Lady Be Good" by John G. Hemry is more a seafaring than spacefaring story. The title refers to the name of a tramp ship, kept together by spit and a prayer, just waiting for that one good run. We hear of a mythic place called Haven which is the port at which all sailors want to dock. Kilcannon is the First Officer of the Lady and really the one that keeps her going. The job they are on is not very respectable but when they pick up refugees from space pirates, the First Officer and crew find a way to redemption. In "Numismatist" by Richard A. Lovett, Detective Adam Lamb must figure out why a seemingly normal man shot up a mall until he was killed by the police. Lamb is an interesting character, with issues of his own, and the mystery is solved because of Lamb's own personal situation. "Nothing to Fear" by Stephen L. Burns tells of a man who had many phobias but was a software genius until he killed himself and burned his house down. How this all happened makes for a nice little story. Stephen Baxter's "The Lowland Expedition" is another story set on Old Earth where time is stratified. Time moves faster the higher you go. Enna, her father and her lover come across a strange city which has only one resident but is, nonetheless, a dangerous place to be. "Lighthouse" is the tale of Kristi Lang, who makes a revolutionary discovery about a certain kind of brown dwarf star and the life experience that gave her a clue to it all.

The only story found a little less satisfying (but still worth reading) was Wil McCarthy's "Boundary Condition." It's an odd story about people on a weather station in space who can affect the weather through decoherence. I did not really understand the whole process but the story involved a visit from the first American Pope, Pope Dave 1. McCarthy repeats one of the oldest jokes in the world as if it were new and makes one mistake about how a Catholic cleric might act in a crisis situation. The story just did not come together for me.

Asimov's Science Fiction - March 2006 by Sheila Williams (ed) ( March 2006 / ) - Asimov's Science Fiction - March 2006 - Vol. 30 No. 3 (Whole Number 362)
Table of Contents:
Novelettes: The Gabble by Neal Asher / Dark Eden by Chris Beckett / Dead Men Walking by Paul J. McAuley / The Kewlest Thing of All by David Ira Cleary Short Stories: 46 Directions, None of Then North by Deborah Coates / Rwanda by Robert Reed / Companion to Owls by Chris Roberson Poetry: O The Angels and Demons by Laurel Winter / Aliens Captured Me by Leslie What / Demon Armies of the Night by William John Watkins Departments: Editorial: Science Fiction Sudoku by Sheila Williams / Reflections: Plutonium for Breakfast by Robert Silverberg / Thought Experiment: More Than Halfway to Anywhere by Joe Lazzaro / On Books by Paul Di Filippo / The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

The March 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has a mix of stories, one of which got a Great from me and the others worth reading, too.

It really comes as no surprise to me that I would think that Robert Reed's story, "Rwanda" is the best of the lot. Reed is one of the best writers of the short story around and this is another great one. The story is not set in Africa but in what seems like a more or less contemporary America. The story starts off quite mundanely until we find out what has happened to Earth in the recent past. It's not anything good. All this makes for a chilling tale with an unforgettable end.

Four of the remaining stories all got a Very Good from me. "The Gabble" by Neal Asher is a sequel to his previous tale "Softy Spoke the Gabbleduck" in the August 2005 issue. Two researchers on the planet Masada are trying to figure out how its inhabitants, gabbleducks, hooders, tricones, etc all relate to each other. They witness the death of one of the creatures and come to some interesting conclusions. "Dead Men Walking" by Paul J. McAuley (part of his "Quiet War" series) centers on a former soldier, an artificial man who calls himself Roy Bruce. He has tried to leave his past behind and live as a normal human being but a series of murders puts this in jeopardy. In "The Kewlest Thing of All", David Ira Cleary gives us a world in which one Bonny Brood tries to lure a woman from a consumerist culture called Stewardship to something kewler. Cleary gives us a interesting take on a future Earth with some very different technologies and the people that use them. Deborah Coates' story "46 Directions, None of Them North" is an amusing tale told from the viewpoint of a 16 year-old girl who must get to Fairbanks, Alaska by June 21 because she is convinced that aliens are going to land there on that day. How she swings it makes for a nice little story.

The other two stories while not quite as good as the others are still worth reading. "Dark Eden" by Chris Becekett tells about two people who really don't like each other very much having to survive and procreate on a sunless but habitable planet. "Companion to Owls" by Chris Roberson centers on Steeplejack North, a man who takes care of the northernmost steeple of a cathedral which serves all creeds and covers thousand's of square miles.

This is a very good issue and well worth buying for the stories and for a new take on the Sudoku craze, puzzles which were not by the Japanese but by man named Howard Garns for Dell Puzzle magazines back in 1979!

Interzone #202 by (TTA Press February 2006 / ) - Table of Contents: Reader's Poll * Ansible Link - David Langford's Regular Round Up of SF News & Gossip * Terry Pratchett: Snipe Hunting for Stewed Tomatoes - Interviewer: Michael Lohr * Gerry Anderson & Richard Morris: The Return of Captain Scarlett - Interviewer: Sandy Auden * Intermission (Fiction) Sundowner Sheila by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre * The Microbe Conservation Project by Carlos Hernandez * The Unsolvable Deathtrap by Jack Mangan * After the Party (Part 2) by Richard Calder * The Last Reef by Gareth Lyn Powell * Mutant Popcorn - Nick Lowe's Regular Review of SF Films * Gamezone - Alan Fraser's Regular Review of Games * Mangazone - Sarah Ash's Regular Review of Manga / Scores - John Clute's Regular Book Review Column * Book Reviews * Coming Soon

Interzone is the best looking science fiction magazine out there and the stories match the attractiveness of the magazine. Issue #202 continues the great tradition of "Britain's Longest Running Science Fiction Magazine."

The lead story, "Sundowner Sheila" by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre is the story from this issue that gets a rating of Great from me. I have been reading Froggy MacIntyre's stories since he was first published in Asimov's more than 20 years ago and this is the best one in years. It's set on the second planet in the Delta Pavonis star system, a mostly inhospitable one. The story take place in a part of the planet at which it is always noon and sundown never comes. The area is worked by two compozzies, artificially made men who have memories of many men who originally lived in Australia. The story is told through the eyes of Blodger, the brawn half of the team. His supervisor is Dicko who is the brain half although he's no rocket scientist. Into this company comes Sundowner Sheila a woman with talents of her own. It's a great story and the Aussie-like language used gives it a unique flavor. The story is so good that it alone is worth the price of the magazine. I will be considering it for a Hugo nomination next year.

The other stories got a Very Good from me and only add to the worth of this issue. "The Macrobe Conservation Project" by Carlos Hernandez is a dark little tale that starts out light as the adventures of a young boy on a space station. Things take a very different turn, however. "The Unsolvable Deathtrap" by Jack Mangan is a darkly amusing tale of a cabbie who always thinks the worst will happen. Eventually, he turns out to be right. "The Last Reef" by Gareth Lyn Powell is a stirring tale of a man sent to do a dirty job and how he deals with a very bad situation. The only remaining story is "After the Party" by Richard Calder but as this is Part Two of a three-part story, I will once again postpone reading and reviewing the story until the next issue when I can read the whole tale at once.

Once again, Interzone is well worth getting. Subscribe! Check out their website.

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - May 2006 by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.) (Spilogale, Inc. March 2006 / ) - Table of Contents: Novelets: A Herd of Opportunity -5- Matthew Hughes / Journey into the Kingdom -132- M. Rickert Short Stories: Bea and Her Bird Brother -52- Gene Wolfe / Passing Through -60- Charles Coleman Finlay / Show Me Yours -79- Robert Reed / Diluvium -87- Steven Utley / Billy and the Fairy -99- Terry Bisson / Imitation of Life -105- Albert E. Cowdrey Departments: Books to Look For -39- Charles de Lint / Books -43- Elizabeth Hand / Plumage from Pegasus: A Black Hole Ate My Homework -75- Paul Di Filippo / Coming Attractions -125- / Films: It Looks Larger in a Small Box -126- Kathi Maio / F&SF Competition #71 -159- / Curiosities -162- Dennis Lien / Cartoons: S. Harris (38), J.P. Rini (51), Arthur Masear (74), Bill Long (131) / Cover: Michael Dashow for "A Herd Of Opportunity"

The May 2006 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has many of the usual suspects and that's a very good thing. This is another excellent issue with nothing to disappoint.

The best story and the one that gets a rating of great from me is the cover story, "A Herd of Opportunity" by Matthew Hughes. Hughes continues to write stories that remind me of Jack Vance and I can pay him no greater compliment. This is another Old Earth story with Guth Bandar as the hero but this one takes place when Bandar is still a student at the Institute of Historical Inquiry. We learn a little more about The Commons, "the collective unconscious wherein all our dreams are made manifest." It seems that each species has its own Commons and that there are barriers separating them which cannot be breached. In this story, Bandar and his superior, Preceptor Huffley, travel to the planet Gamza to find out why the native Bololos seem to be channeling human archetypes. What follows is a wonderful story with the bizarre characters that we have come to expect from Hughes. He is one of my favorite new writers and I love his stories with Guth Bandar as well as those with Henghist Hapthorn. Someday, I'd like to see a crossover story in which they team up but that's because I read too many comic books. Even though both these characters are part of Old Earth culture, I don't even know if they're contemporary. Also, their stories are very different. Still, I have faith that Hughes could pull it off.

The rest of the stories all get a Very Good from me but with the talent involved, that's not surprising. "Journey into the Kingdom" by M. Rickert is a dark little ghost story that begins with a young woman falling victim to a breath-stealing ghost which also steals her life. She meets a man grieving the loss of his wife and the story grows darker still. Albert E. Cowdrey is best known for his horror stories set in New Orleans. His latest, "Imitation of Life", is something completely different. It is set in a future Earth in which big cities have been abandoned and everyone lives in small towns. Set in a version of England in that time, the story is told quite consciously like something out of Jane Austen. A spinster with the name of Emma Smythe-Denby hides a man named Martin Ffrench-Dobbyn from an angry mob in her home. To do this, she disguises him as a love-bot that she names Roderick. Things develop from there to a very funny conclusion. "Passing Through" is by Charles Coleman Finlay and very different from recent stories that he's done. Roberta Baumgartner is an old woman, living in Northern Ohio, who, it appears, is haunted by a ghost. She also has other issues with modern times and we are not sure what to make of her. Slowly we find out her story, what has been haunting her and what she must do about it. All this makes for a memorable tale.

In "Diluvium", Stephen Utley gives us another story in his series about an anomaly that takes people back to the Paleozoic Age. There is quite a tourist trade going on and a resident scientist is surprised to encounter a Creationist who thinks he is only a few thousand years in the past, just after the Flood. They have an interesting conversation and the story ends on a bit of a surprise. Robert Reed can always be counted on for something unusual. "Show Me Yours" starts as a encounter between a young woman and her roommate's date for that night but we know something else is going on. Reed does not disappoint and gives us a very good end to the story. The last two stories are by two masters in the field and are quite short so I won't go into too much detail other than that they both live up to their writer's standards. In "Bea and her Bird Brother" by Gene Wolfe, a woman finds out something unusual about her heritage from her father on his deathbed. Terry Bisson's "Billy and the Fairy" tells about a young boy's encounter with a fairy in a darkly comic tale.

The issue is rounded out by a "Plumage from Pegasus" story by Paul Di Filippo, again showing why this is the best magazine on the market. Subscribe!

Shimmer - Vol. 1 Issue 2 - Winter 2006 by ( March 2006 / ) - Shimmer - Vol.1 Issue 2 - Winter 2006
Table of Contents: Letter From the Editor / Contributors / Action / Team-Ups Number Thirty-Seven by Ken Scholes / Sell Your Soul to the Devil Blues by Tom Pendergrass / Route Nine by Samantha Henderson / The Goldsmith by Ian Creasey / Music in D Minor by Erynn Miles / Interview with Ellen Datlow / Neighbor by Jason A.D. MacDonald / The Persian Box by Gerald Costlow / One-Leaf-Two by Edo Mor / The Black Back-Lands by Jay Lake / Artists and Illustrations / Shimmery Staff

This is the second issue of Shimmer that I've read and the high quality of the stories continues. An insert tells us, "Each issue presents unusual stories told with conventional storytelling techniques." That's a good description. All but two stories got a Very Good rating from me and that's a pretty good batting average.

"Action Team-Ups Number Thirty-Seven" by Ken Scholes is a funny little tale of a elderly and retired super-hero who tries to still fight evil in the nursing home in which he resides. Names are changed but it's obvious whom Night Marauder, his sidekick and his nemesis Lunatic The Clown are and the story is quite amusing. "Sell Your Soul to the Devil Blues" by Tom Pendergrass tells of a kid named Jimmy who would sell his soul to become a Bluesman. The devil shows up and another kind of deal is reached and all come away happy. "Route Nine" by Samantha Henderson is a dark little tale of a trucker who finds out that the little place he stops at for apricot pie is something other than what he'd expect. Ian Creasey's "The Goldsmith" is another dark story about making a ring with more than gold. "Music in D Minor" by Erynn Miles is an imaginative and upbeat tale of a woman who finds music in the most unusual of places. In "Neighbor", Jason A.D. MacDonald gives us a scary little story of a man having trouble with his upstairs neighbor. "The Persian Box" by Gerald Costlow features an ancient box that means death for anyone who looks in it.

The last two stories were the only ones I found a little disappointing. "One-Leaf-Two" by Edo Mor is an offbeat tale about lovers separated in an unusual way. "The Black Back-Lands" by Jay Lake is a very short story that is impossible to summarize. It just did not work for me.

Still, Shimmer is an attractive magazine with some nice illustrations and a good interview with Ellen Datlow. I very much recommend it.

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