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Analog - December 2006 by Stan Schmidt (Ed.) (Penny Press November 2006 / ) - Analog Science Fiction and Fact – December 2006 – Vol. CXXVI No. 12 – ISSN 1059-2113
Table of Contents: Serial: Rollback (Part III of IV) by Robert J. Sawyer Novelets: Imperfect Gods by C. Sanford Lowe and G. David Nordley * Double Dead by Grey Rollins Short Stories: Openshot by Craig DeLancey * Diatomaceous Earth by Jerry Oltion * The Technetium Earth by Wil McCarthy * Long Winter's Nap by Catherine H. Shaffer Science Fact: Flatworlds by Stephen L. Gillett, Ph.D. Probability Zero: Upgrade by Eric James Stone 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 short fiction in December 2006 issue of Analog starts off badly but recovers with stories that got a Very Good from me.

The Very Good stories start with "Double Dead" by Grey Rollins. This is another in his series about detective Jack Sawyer and his doppleganger PC. This time Sawyer must find out if a beautiful movie star's husband is really dead or if the body is a clone. This is a fun story that's a delight to read. "Openshot" by Craig DeLancey is the story of a competition amongst private individuals to return to the moon. The winners are those that do the right thing. Jerry Oltion's "Diatomaceous Earth" is the amusing story about a physicist who spends too much time gardening resulting in great changes to people's lives. "The Technetium Rush" by Wil McCarthy tells about a man who creates a new rare mineral. The last of the stories worth reading is the enchanting "Long Winter's Nap" by Catherine H. Shaffer. This is an unusual take on the classic "little girl wants to see Santa Claus" story.

Unfortunately, the longest story in the issue, "Imperfect Gods" by C. Stanford Lowe and G. David Nordley is not very good at all. It is a sequel to a previous story in which the valiant scientists defeat the forces of religious extremists. Basically, the same thing happens again in this story and it is again weighed down with scientific jargon. This appears to be part of a series and I'm afraid we are going to get more of them.

So this issue is kind of a mixed bag and gets a qualified endorsement.

Apex #7 - Fall 2006 by (Apex Publications LLC Fall 2006 / ) - Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest – Vol. 1 Issue 7 – Fall 2006 – ISSN 1553-7269 - PO Box 2223. Lexington, KY 40588-2223 – Website.

Table of Contents: Fiction: Grass Land by Michael Laimo * Children at Play by Joshua Steiner * How to Raise a Human by Deb Taber * Promise Them Aught by Marlissa Campbell * The Tow by James Reilly * Kissing Cousins by Neil Ayres * That Old Sandlands Fever by Douglas F. Warrick * Doxies by Brandon Alspaugh * The Death of Self: Temple III by Steven Savile * The Minotaur's Rabbit by Beth Wodzinski Poem: Crypt Keeper’s Curse is a Muse by Brandy Schwan Non-Fiction: Interview with Tim Powers * Interview with Michael Laimo * Much Ado About Driving by Alethea Kontis * Androids and Other Undead by Lavie Tidhar

As is frequently the case, this issue of Apex is a mixed bag of stories that worked and those (for me, at least) that didn't.

"Grassland" by Michael Laimo is an OK tale of a astronauts stranded on a deadly planet with some very imaginative monsters. "Children At Play" by Joshua Steiner is a series of stories of monsters engulfing people but not in a particularly interesting way. "How to Raise a Human" by Deb Taber is a nice little story about a different kind of class project. Marissa Campbell's "Promise Them Anything" is a nice little turn on the Pied Piper story. In "The Tow", James Reilly gives us a chilling story about one of those bad "out in the middle of nowhere" experiences.

"Kissing Cousins" by Neil Ayres is a muddled story which seems to have a lot going on but very little of it detailed so one can get a sense of the story. I liked "That Old Sandlands Fever" by Douglas F. Warrick, another version of the Old West showdown. "Crypt Keeper's Curse is a Muse" by Brandy Schwan is a nice little poem. The idea behind "Doxies" by Brandon Alspaugh is something very different: What happens to the children sired by time-travelers? This makes for a clever little story. I will review "The Death of Self: Temple Part III" by Steven Savile when all the parts are completed. Finally. "The Minotaur's Rabbit" by Beth Wodzinski is a good little short-short about a disaster on a spaceship.

So the good stories easily outweigh the ones I didn't like and I'll recommend this magazine to those that like experimental fiction.

Asimov's Science Fiction - December 2006 by Sheila Williams (Ed) ( November 2006 / ) - Asimov’s Science Fiction – December 2005 – Vol. 30 No. 12 (Whole Number 371) – ISSN 1065-2698
Table of Contents: Novela: Lord Weary's Empire by Michael Swanwick Novelette: Yellow Card Man by Paolo Bacigalupi Short Stories: Plausible by Robert Reed * Immunity by Susan Forest * Safe! by Brian W. Aldiss * A Dying Fall by Christopher Priest * The Golden Record by Ian Creasley Poetry: Copyright Notice, 2525 by David Livingstone Clink * Motive, Cause, Weapon by Greg Beatty * An Eccentric in Orbit by Laurel Winter * Rain by Holly Phillips Departments: Editorial: How My Heart Breaks When I Hear That Song by Sheila Williams * Reflections: Flashing Before my Eyes by Robert Silverberg * Science Fiction Sudoku by Ruth Crabtree * On Books by Peter Heck * The SF Conventional Calendar by Erwin S. Strauss

The December 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction is one of the best of the year. Two stories got an Excellent from me and the rest were Very Good.

The first of the Excellent stories was "Lord Weary's Empire" by Michael Swanwick. This features the character of Will that we last met in Swanwick's "The Word that Sings the Scythe" in the October/November 2004 issue of the magazine. It is set in a world a little like ours but inhabited by elves and other fantasy beings. Will becomes involved with a group of people who live underground, led by an elf-lord named Lord Weary. The story features some great characters, lots of action and a very surprising conclusion. The other story I especially liked was "Yellow Card Man" by that fantastic new writer Paulo Bacigalupi. It is the story of an old man named Tranh, an ethnic Chinese who was once a rich man in Malaysia. Malaysia kicked out the Chinese and now he does what he can to survive in Thailand.

The short stories are all interesting. "Plausible" by Robert Reed is set in some future where a young boy buys a lottery ticket and has an absolutely wondrous day. Susan Forest's "Immunity" is set on a remote mining planet where a deadly disease forces a woman to make a painful decision. "Safe!" by Brian W. Aldiss is a darkly satirical tale about an astronaut who proclaims that "the human species is a farce" and the effect that this has on the world. Christopher Priest contributes "A Dying Fall" about a man's vision just before he meets death. Last, "The Golden Record" by Ian Creasey tells what might happen to a future Earth and what this means for space travel. The title refers to a disc on Voyager 2.

The magazine continues to improve under Sheila William's leadership.

Blood, Blade, and Thruster - Fall 2006 by (BBT Fall 2006 / ) - Blood, Blade & Thruster BBT, Magazine, Vol. 1, Number 1, Fall 2006
Table of Contents: Fiction: Almost Heroic by S.J. Pierce * The Most Selfish Man in All of Stretford by Gregory Adams * Princess Lily's Wedding by Robert J. Santa * Some Units Like It Heated by Blake Hutchins * Changing for Dinner by Kathleen Wallace * Making Up for Lost Time by James Harris Non-Fiction: Reviews * Flashback by James Palmer * The Letters of Earl B. Morris * Riley Martin is Going to Space...And He's Taking You with Him by Kennedy Smith * Neil Gaiman Goes Nubian with BBT by Lucien Spelman & Kennedy Smith * Confessions of An Unrepentant Fanboy by James Palmer

Published Quarterly by BBT Magazine. PO Box 812252 Wellesley Square, MA 02482-0016. Website.

This is a new magazine and is very well produced. All the stories got a Very Good from me. This is entirely satirical magazine and all the stories are funny.

"Almost Heroic" by S.J. Pierce is the story of a sad-sack warrior who is being used as a messenger boy. Thieves, thinking he has something worth stealing, run him through with a sword. Actually, things improve for him there. In "The Most Selfish Man In All Of Stretford", Gregory Adams gives us a story of a man who is such an ardent soccer fan that even a "Monkey's Paw" type curse cannot defeat him. Robert J. Santa's "Princess Lily's Wedding" is a hilarious tale about a princess who just MUST marry her frog prince.

"Some Units Like It Heated" by Blake Hutchins is a funny little story of an alien who chooses the disguise of Marilyn Monroe to explore Earth. "Changing For Dinner" by Kathleen Wallace is a funny one-pager about a couple preparing for a night out. Last, "Making Up For Lost Time" by James Harris is the story of a 19th century clockmaker's last work, not a very heart-warming object!

So I'd like to see this magazine succeed! Go to their website and order a copy. Highly recommended!

Dark Tales by (Dark Tales November 2006 / ) - Dark Tales – Issue 9 – Autumn 2006
Table of Contents: The Night Hag by K.S. Dearsley * The Devil Came Up to Grimesford by Mark Ray * Mandrake by Mark Cowley * Kitty & Katherine by Tyler Keevil * Screaming Purple Psychosis by Priya Sharma * Flutter on by, Mr. Butterfly by Caroline Bates * Afterimage by Andrew Myers * Guardian by Timothy C. Hobbs * The Zeitsev by Michael Hart * Mystery Train by David Turnbull * Chosen by Susan Carey * The Blackford Folly (Part 1) by David Robertson * A Coffin Full of Questions with Piers Anthony

Published by Dark Tales, 7 Offley Street, Barbourne, Worcester, WR3 8BH, UK -- Dark Tales Website

This is the first issue of Dark Tales that I've received and I thought it was pretty good. It's a small press horror magazine from Great Britain and all but two of the stories got a Very Good from me.

"The Night Hag" by K.S. Dearsley is a chilling little tale of a young girl who is haunted by something she calls the night hag. The story develops nicely and gives us a good ending when we find out what the night hag is. In "The Devil Came Up to Grimesford", Michael Ray gives us a classic encounter with the Devil story in which the Devil offers every resident of a town their heart's desire with no strings attached. This was my favorite story in the issue. Mark Cowley's "Mandrake" is the story of a wizard who must dig up a mandrake plant to make an aphrodisiac. This is not a simple thing to do.

"Kitty and Katherine" by Tyler Keevil tells us about a ghost hunter who must find out why a young woman is being haunted. His research reveals an unexpected answer. "Screaming Purple Psychosis" by Priya Sharma is the story of a young woman who sees a monster in her house. This leads her to take drastic action. "Flutter on by, Mr. Butterfly" by Caroline Bates is a gruesome little tale of nature gone mad. In "Afterimage", Andrew Myers spins a tale of a young woman haunted by something that robs her of sleep and what happens to the doctor who tries to help her. "Guardian" by Timothy C. Hobbs is the story of a young girl who prays for a different kind of guardian when she is being abused. Michael Hart's "The Zeitsev" is a nasty little tale of a once-again Communist Russia and the drastic measures it takes to win a war.

The stories that disappointed me were "Mystery Train" by David Turnbull which is a muddled story of a man's journey and "Chosen" by Susan Carey which is an OK tale of a woman's daughter whose life goes awry.

The issue also includes a one-page but very good interview with Piers Anthony and "The Blackford Folly (Part 1)" by David Robertson which I will review when it is completed. All in all, this magazine gets a recommendation from me.

Jim Baen's Universe - Vol. 1, No. 3, Oct. 2006 by Eric Flint (Ed.) (Baen Publishing Oct 2006 / ) - Jim Baen's Universe - Volume 1 Number 3, October 2006
Table of Contents: Science Fiction Stories: All the Things You Are by Mike Resnick * The Old Woman In the Young Woman by Gene Wolfe * Every Hole is Outlined by John Barnes * A Time to Kill by S. Andrew Swann * The Man Who Wasn't There by Gregory Benford * Little Sips by Barbara J. Ferrenz * Great Minds by Edward M. Lerner * The Power of Illusion by Christopher Anvil Fantasy Stories: Protection Money by Wen Spencer * Baby Girl by Jon Skovron * Femme Fatale by Jason Wittman * Gnome Improvement by Rebecca Lickiss * A Hire Power by J. Simon Classic: A Matter of Fact by Rudyard Kipling Serials - parts and parts: Travails With Momma, Episode 3 by John Ringo * Fish Story, Episode 3 by Dave Freer, Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis Introducing: Stories by new authors: The Men in the Mirror by Steven Ray * Songbird by Jeremiah Sturgill * Devil May Care by Jason Kahn NonFiction articles: Doing a Slow Turn by David Brin * Terraforming: A Bumpy Road Ahead by B. B. Kristopher Columns: Salvos against Big Brother: Copyright: How Long Should It Be? by Eric Flint * The Editor's Page: October 2006 by Eric Flint

A subscription to the magazine costs $30 for six issues, published bimonthly. To see a preview of the magazine or to see a description of our various offers.

I have been given access to Jim Baen's Universe, an online magazine and the current issue, Volume 1 Number 3, October 2006, is the first one I'm reviewing. See the note on the table of contents page to see how it works. The magazine is edited by Eric Flint and is of remarkably high quality. Just look at the names in the table of contents! The stories by Mike Resnick and Gene Wolfe got an Excellent from me (and that should be a surprise?) and all the rest got a Very Good.

In "All the Things You Are" by Mike Resnick, Gregory Donovan, a policeman, wants to know why men and aliens who fought each other on a planet are all getting themselves killed by doing wildly heroic acts, like charging men with guns. He goes to the planet and finds out why in a beautiful and haunting story. Gene Wolfe's "The Old Woman in the Young Woman" gives us the story of Long Tom, who in some post-apocalyptic America, comes across a young woman taking care of an older woman. How the women are connected and what one does for the other make for a great story.

"Every Hole is Outlined" by John Barnes is set in a far future. Xhrina becomes part of a group that transports cargoes over long distances and lives an interesting and beautiful life. In "A Time to Kill", Andrew Swain shows us that changing history might just make things worse. Gregory Benford's "The Man Who Wasn't There" is a near future tale of Jean and how he is dealing with terrorists who want to take over France. "Little Sips" by Barbara Ferrenz tells us about a doctor and a policeman who are investigating why people are suddenly having their spinal fluid sucked from their brain. Edward Lerner's "Great Minds" is a short-short about a physicist being visited by one of his other selves from another world. "The Power of Illusion" by Christopher Anvil is the story of how men from Earth repay a great deed done for them by the chief of an alien culture.

The next section is called Fantasy Stories and starts with Wen Spencer's "Protection Money". This is set in a Pittsburgh that has been transported to a place called Elfhome. Tommy Chang, who is half-oni (a Japanese legend), must find a way to maintain his independence in a world run by imperious elves. "Baby Girl" by Jon Skovron is a classic folklore kind of story about a man who must rescue a woman from the devil. In "Femme Fatale", Jason Wittman creates an otherworldly woman named Molly Flammare and how she helps people in a post-WWII Minneapolis, told from the point of view of a young man named Gabriel who plays a great trumpet. Rebecca Lickiss' "Gnome Improvement" is a funny little story about a couple who have their lawn gnomes improved by a very special service. In "A Hire Power", J. Simon gives us an amusing tale about a woman with a human resources-type job and an especially bad day.

The last section that I'll review is called "Introducing: Stories by new authors" and features stories by three very talented newcomers. "The Men in the Mirror" by Steven Ray is a caper story of sorts. This time the gang consists of a man and his future selves. Jeremy Sturgill's "Songbird" is a lyrical tale about a master singer and a persistent young man who want to learn how to sing. "Devil May Care" by Jason Kahn is about a "Torturer, Second Class" in Hell that enjoys his work, until he is sent to collect a soul on Earth.

I can't do justice to these stories in so short a space. I do strongly recommend that you check this magazine out!

Kaleidotrope - October 2006 by (Kaleidotrope October 2006 / ) - Kaleidotrope, No. 1, October 2006
Table of Contents: Fiction: The Sirens of Tinwa by David McGillveray * The Tale of Tales by Richard Harland * The Water Queen by Roy Wilson * A Peppermint Purge by Kurt Kirchmeier * Deliberation by David Siegel Bernstein * Afternoon Delight by Ramona Gardea * Space Dinosaurs by Sharon Cichelli * Mild Mannered by Mike Lansley * Little Green Men by Fred Coppersmith * Probed by Nigel Willis Poetry: A Migrating Fairy by Kristine Ong Muslim * fission bomb by rimone * Near Sillustani by John Kuhn * Bad Weather by Trevor Price * Two Poems by Thomas Zimmerman * Where Have All the Comedians Gone? By Bruce Boston and Marge Simon * Two Poems by Aurelio Rico Lopez III Nonfiction: More Than Meets The Eye: The Transformers Revisited by Jim Cleaveland * Books In Brief by Martin Earl * Back Page Blather by Stuart Krause * Horoscopes

Published Twice a Year, PO Box 25, Carle Place, NY 11514 – Website. Individual issues $4, two year subscription only $16

Kaleidotrope is another new magazine and this is a very good inaugural issue. The stories are all pretty short and most (but not all) are light in tone. All but one got a Very Good from me and that one story only had a minor flaw.

"The Sirens of Tinwa" by David McGillveray is a serious little story about a soldier in an occupied country that meets a beautiful native of that land. In "The Tale of Tales" by Richard Harland we get an example of how it might be a bad idea to tell people how tales come into being. "The Water Queen" by Roy Wilson is a charming story about a very special day for a child told from her point of view. Kurt Kirchmeier's "A Peppermint Purge" is a funny little tale about an apocalypse gone wrong. "Deliberation" by David Siegel Bernstein is an amusing little story about what happens when two warring sides agree on something.

"Afternoon Delight" by Ramona Gardea is a strange story about a woman's day sometime in a very weird future. "Space Dinosaurs" by Sharon Cichelli is a short-short only 4 paragraphs long with a minor flaw in that the end is given away by the title. "Mild Mannered" by Mike Lansley is the best story in the issue. It is a serious story about a young man who can't think well but knows what the right thing to do is.

Fred Coppersmith's "Little Green Men" is a very funny story about a waitress and her Martian customers. "Probed" by Nigel Willis is a good little joke about a real kind of "torture".

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - Jan. 2007 by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.) (Spilogale, Inc. Nov 2006 / ) - The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – January 2007 – 58th Year of Publication
Table of Contents: Novella: Kiosk by Bruce Sterling Novelet: The Darkness Between by Jeremy Minton Short Stories: The Strange Disappearance of David Gerrold by David Gerrold * X-Country by Robert Reed * How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman * The Dark Boy by Marta Randall Departments: Books to Look For by Charles de Lint * Books by John Kessel * Films: Something Wicker This Way Comes by Lucius Shepard * Coming Attractions * Index to Volumes 110 & 111 * Curiosities by Graham Andrews * Cartoons: Joseph Farris, Arthur Masear * Cover by David Hardy for "Kiosk"

Once again, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction delivers a great issue. One story got an Excellent from me and the others were all Very Good.

Even better, the best story was the longest. "Kiosk" by Bruce Sterling was a bizarre story, set in what I guess is a Russia of the future. Borislov owns a little kiosk and sells many odd items. When someone cleans him out, he buys an unusual Fabrikator that can make a black, indestructible copy of anything. This has a profound effect on his society. Next, Jeremy Minton gives us a claustrophobic little tale about a young man on another planet, stuck underground with his family and friends. He does not trust a "magician" that has come amongst them but things turn out very surprisingly.

The issue is rounded out by four very enjoyable shorter stories. "The Strange Disappearance of David Gerrold" by David Gerrold is a letter detailing a strange trip in which Gerrold encounters a strange green boy who is, apparently, being hunted. Robert Reed gives us another odd tale in "X-Country". In it, what seems to be a cross-country race may be something else entirely. Neil Gaiman's "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is actually about two boys who stumble upon a party with very beautiful girls in attendance. They get the surprise of their lives. Lastly, the very talented Marta Randall's "The Dark Boy" is a haunting tale about a woman's trip to Mexico and an unusual young boy.

As I always say, this is a magazine well worth subscribing to.

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