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Asimov's Science Fiction - February by Sheila Williams (ed) (Penny Press January 2007 / ) - Asimov's Science Fiction - February 2007 - Vol. 31 No. 2 (Whole Number 373) - ISSN 1065-2698
Table of Contents: Novella: Recovering Apollo 8 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch Novelette: Outgoing by Alex Wilson Short Stories: Cold Fire by Tanith Lee * The Chimera Transit by Jack Skillingstead * A Portrait of the Artist by Charles Midwinter * Close by William Preston Departments: Guest Editorial: A Second-Hand Sensibility by Brian Bieniowski * Refections: Rereading Jack Vance by Robert Silverberg * Thought Experiments: Me and Deke and the Paradigm Shift by Michael Cassutt * Special Book Review: Alice Through the Magnifying Glass by Paul Di Filippo * On Books by Peter Heck * The SF Conventional Calendar

The February 2007 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction starts out a little weak but concludes with a story that is Excellent enough to justify picking up the magazine all by itself.

The first story is the first sale by new writer, Alex Wilson. "Outgoing" is a pleasant enough tale about "two unlikely astronauts" which features several implausible events from the start and concludes with something that is both a hoary old SF cliché and a scientific impossibility. I don't think Dr. Asimov would be pleased with this story in the magazine that bears his name. Next, we have "Cold Fire" a Very Good story by Tanith Lee about a ship in the what seems to be the 1800's that is forced to take a "frozen dragon" to the North Pole. This is just the sort of quality tale that we expect from Lee. Unfortunately, the next tale is not as good. "The Chimera Transit" by Jack Skillingstead is a boring story of a man pining foe a lost love that takes the only way out.

Things improve from there, though. "A Portrait of the Artist" by Charles Midwinter is another "first professional sale" and this one got a Very Good from me. It is a wonderfully fanciful tale about an artist who helps some strange "squirrels" and is amply rewarded. Midwinter is an author to watch! Also pretty good and worth reading is "Close" by William Preston about a man who finds it hard to relate to people and goes to a discussion group to get help. What distinguishes this is a great last sentence!

The issue concludes with the one story that makes this issue worth buying. "Recovering Apollo 8" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch got an Excellent from me. It takes place in an alternate Earth in which the Apollo 8 astronauts missed the moon and continued out into space to die. A man becomes obsessed with recovering them and we get a great story about him. Rusch rarely disappoints and this story will probably be nominated for a Hugo Award in 2008.

So, despite some flaws, this issue is worth picking up.

(see review)

Analog - March 2007 by Stan Schmidt (Ed.) (Penny Press January 2007 / ) - Analog Science Fiction and Fact - March 2007 - Vol. CXXVII No. 3 - ISSN 1059-2113
Table of Contents: Serial: Queen of Candesce, part I of IV by Karl Schroeder Novella: The Small Pond by C. Stanford Lowe & G. David Nordley Novelette: Cool Neighbor by Michael Shara & Jack McDeviit Short Stories: Trucks by Amy Bechtel * Misquoting the Moon by David Bartell Science Fact: Toward a Not-Just-Diamond Age by Stephen Gillett, Ph.D. Departments: 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

Well, I'm happy to say that the March 2007 issue of Analog is the best one in months with all 4 stories getting a Very Good from me.

I was especially surprised with "The Small Pond" by C. Stanford Lowe & G. David Nordley. This is the third of their stories about a Black Hole Project more than 200 years in the future. I did not like the previous stories finding them to be too loaded with scientific jargon and politically didactic. But in this story, the jargon is toned down and the opposition to the project does not come from a thinly disguised religious right. Here the conflict is of a scientific type and makes for a great story.

"Cool Neighbor" by Michael Shara & Jack McDevitt starts out on a downer note with a character from a previous story being killed but ends with an exciting scientific discovery that makes me want to see a sequel. "Trucks" by Amy Bechtel is a wonderful little story about a world in which most people can intuitively count and calculate very carefully and how a mother cares for a son who is "slow" but otherwise talented. Last, "Misquoting the Moon" by David Bartell is a nice little tale about how to save a little of a world that is about to be destroyed.

All in all, this is an issue well worth buying.

(see review)

Clarkesworld #2 (also #1 and #3) by Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld November 2006 / ) - Clarkesworld Online magazine Currently Issues 1 and 2 are available.
Issue #1 - October 2006 304, Adolph Hitler Strasse by Lavie Tidhar * A Light in Troy by Sarah Monette
Issue #2 - November 2006 The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia * Lydia's Body by Vylar Kaftan Issue #3 - December 2006 The Other Amazon by Jenny Davidson * Urchins, While Swimming by Catherynne M. Valente

Clarkesworld Magazine is a new online magazine. It has unusual short stories and I'm reviewing all that are currently available.

"304, Adolph Hitler Strasse" by Lavie Tidhar is an alternate world story in which Germany won World War II and all the Jews were exterminated. In the story, a young man starts having sado-masocistic fantasies about them and posts them online. This makes for a very good little story. In "A Light in Troy" by Sarah Monette, a young woman taken prisoner in war, works as a slave in a library and befriends a feral boy who shows up on the seashore. Unfortunately, there is not a lot more to the story than that.

"The Moby Clitoris of His Beloved" by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia is the story of a young man in a future Japan who becomes obsessed with "whale clitoris sashimi" and his fantasies of the women who harvest them. This is a truly bizarre story. Vylar Kaftan's "Lydia's Body' is another fairly explicit story about a woman of modern day who finds herself in the body of a young woman in 1838 Wisconsin. Like the other November story, this gets a bit explicit but is still worth reading.

The two December stories both got a Very Good from me. I especially liked "The Other Amazon" by Jenny Davidson about a woman who gets books from an online dealer in an alternate world. Who wouldn't want to do that? "Urchins, While Swimming" by Catherynne M. Valente is a fantasy of a young woman who is a daughter of the water who must constantly stay wet. There are more problems for her to live in the real world.

The stories here are all pretty short and fairly experimental. Most of them are pretty sexually explicit. They are well worth reading. Check them out FOR FREE at Clarkesworld Magazine.

(see review)

From the Trenches: Anthology of Speculative War Stories by J.P. Haines & Samantha Henderson (Eds.) (Carnifex Press Fall 2006 / $12.95) - From the Trenches – An Anthology of Speculative War Stories.
Published by Carnifex Press, PO Box 1686, Ormond Beach, FL 32175.
Table of Contents: The Other Side by Rafael Cariaga * Wonder Maul Doll by Kameron Hurley * Maes Gwenllian by J. Anderson Coats * Victim by Kenneth J. Chiacchia * Possible Grief by Josh Rountree * Iphigenia in Ursalim by L.R. Snow * Harris on the Pig: Practical Hints for the Pig Farmer by Anil Menon * Dawn's Early Light by Pati Nagle * And Everything but Wretchedness Forgotten by Michael Sellars * Under the Skin, Under the Bones by Steve Vernon * F*cking Naplam Bastard by John A. Pitts * So Hot by Terry Hayman * Companies of the Heart, Come With Fire and Sword by Jay Lake * Vera Lynn Sings For the Boys by Mikal Trimm * Across a Blackened Landscape by Pam McNew

From the Trenches is a 172-page paper bound anthology of "speculative war stories", mostly by new writers. There is some real talent here and all but three of the stories got a Very Good from me.

"The Other Side" by Rafael Cariaga is a nice little introduction to the anthology as a soldier prepares to go into battle. "Wonder Maul Doll" by Kameron Hurley features woman warriors of the future looking for organic WMD's. "Maes Gwenllian" by J. Anderson Coats is a tale of long ago with the Welsh fighting the Normans. There is little fantasy element in this, but it does have a twist at the end. "Victim" by Kenneth J. Chiacchia is another future battle with soldiers fighting a truly frightening and unusual foe. Josh Rountree's "Possible Grief" is a mythic tale of the "War Witch" of a small town.

"Iphigenia in Ursalim" by L.R. Snow is a chilling tale of a very surprising warrior. "Harris on the Pig: Practical Hints for the Pig Farmer" by Anil Menon is about a very different kind of battle waged by a political fanatic. Pati Nagle's "Dawn's Early Light" is a tale of the Civil War and a very different "ministering angel" who cares for dying men. The title has a surprising meaning and this tale was my favorite in the volume. "And Everything but Wretchedness Forgotten" by Michael Sellars is a little less good. It's a depressing tale set in the trenches of World War I. "Under the Skin, Under the Bones" by Steve Vernon is a nice little horror story about a German soldier on the Russian Front in the Second World War.

"F*cking Naplam Bastard" by John A. Pitts is set in Vietnam where a soldier must fight a little more than the Viet Cong. Terry Hayman's "So Hot" is an OK story set in Iraq in which a soldier encounters another soldier who has gone insane from the war. "Companies of the Heart, Come With Fire and Sword" is by Jay Lake, who frequently contributes to small press publications like this one. Here he tells of a war in some medieval fantasy type world in which soldiers live as refugees in a neighboring country after losing a war. This had a great ending and is just the sort of story that one expects from Lake. I didn't much care for "Vera Lynn Sings For the Boys" by Mikal Trimm. I think it makes the mistake of projecting today's values into the past. Last of all, "Across a Blackened Landscape" by Pam McNew is a good little story of a soldier home from Vietnam but haunted by nightmares.

This is a nice little book and is accompanied by a chapbook of poetry featuring names like Bruce Boston, James S. Dorr, Joe Haldeman and others. I highly recommend buying it.

(see review)

Interzone #207 by Andy Cox (Editor) (TTA Press December 2006 / ) - Interzone - Issue 207 - December 2006 - ISSN 0264-3596
6 issues - $42 USA/Canada – 12 issues - $84 – USA/Canada
Table of Contents: Intermission (Fiction): The Purring of Cats by Dave Honig * Spheres by Suzanne Palmer * Frankie on Zanzibar by David Mace * Clocks by Daniel Kaysen * Stonework by Wendy Waring Interface: Editorial – It Might Look Smaller But Really It's Bigger * Ansible Link (Dave Langford’s SF News & Gossip Interviews: The Prestige: Christopher Priest Interviewer: Gary Dalkin * Dancing Around the Oak: Terry Pratchett - Also Interviewed Neil Gaiman, Iain Stewart, Jack Cohen Interviewer: Andrew Hedgecock * Dune 7: James Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson Interviewer: Paul Raven Interlocutions: Mutant Popcorn – Nick Lowe’s Regular Review of SF Films * Bookzone – More of the latest SF&F Books Reviewed * Scores – John Clute's Regular Book Review Column

The latest issue of Interzone is in a slightly different format, but it's still the same high quality. Two of the stories got an Excellent from me and the other three still got a Very Good.

The first of the Excellent stories is "Spheres" by Suzanne Palmer and it takes place in some kind of outer space habitat in which people live in linked spherical rooms. Irvil's friend Ginder is killed in an accident and then an attempt is made on Ginder's life. With help from friends, he discovers the murderer and his motive in an exciting story. The other story that I thought Excellent is "Frankie on Zanzibar" by David Mace. Franzi is a 10 year old genius who discovers her true origin and what she needs to do to survive in a hostile world.

The other stories are all very much worth reading. "The Purring of Cats" by Dave Hoing tells us of a therapist who must help a young woman who has been convicted of having sex with a genderless alien. Unfortunately, he loses his objectivity. "Clock" by Daniel Kaysen is the story of a woman who goes to unusual lengths to get closer to an indifferent lover. Last of all, Wendy Waring's "Stonework" is the tale of a man on an alien planet who investigates a strange building a little too closely.

The issue also has great features and a fantastic look to it. Go to their website and buy a subscription.

(see review)

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - March 2007 by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.) (Spilogale Inc January 2007 / ) - Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - March 2007 - On sale January 30, 2007
Table of Contents: Novella: The Helper and the Hero (Part 2) by Matthew Hughes Novelet: Dance of Shadows by Fred Chappell * The Devil Bats Will Be a Little Late This Year by Ron Goulart Short Stories: Magic With Thirteen-Year-Old Boys by Robert Reed * Memoir of a Deer Woman by M. Rickert Departments: Books to Look For by Charles de Lint * Books by Elizabeth Hand * Films: The Magic of Lost Loves and Crushed Canaries by Kathi Maio * Coming Attractions * Curiosities by Douglas A. Anderson * Cartoons: Arthur Masear, Danny Shanahan * Cover by Cory and Catska Ench for The Helper and His Hero

Well, the March 2007 issue of Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is another great one with three Excellent stories and two Very Good ones.

First, we have "The Helper and His Hero" by Matthew Hughes featuring his hero, Guth Bandar, explorer of the collective unconsciousness known as the noösphere. This is the second part of a serialization begun in the February issue and together they are almost novel length. Bandar winds up being Helper to a Hero named Baro Harkless in fighting an alien invasion though the noösphere. This is actually a retelling of Hughes' novel, Black Brillion but from Bandar's point of view. There is a little more to the story and this version is, to my mind, better. Also excellent is "Dance of Shadows" by Fred Chappell. This is a wonderful fantasy about the adventures of "shadow-thief" Astolfo and his apprentice, Falco. A nobleman is in possession of the shadow of a beautiful woman and commissions them to find the original. How they accomplish this makes for a great story. I want to see more with these characters! The last of the Excellent stories is "Magic with Thirteen-Year-Old Boys" by Robert Reed. A man tells a woman about a boyhood experience with magic and pornography that had a profound effect on him.

The issue is rounded out with two other stories that are well worth reading. "The Devil Bats Will Be A Little Late This Year" by Ron Goulart is a hilarious tale about a screenwriter who gets involved with an ex-wife, the ghost of her dead lover, three demons, a defrocked priest and a book of spells. It's very typical Goulart, a delight to read that will leave a smile on your face. The last of the stories. "Memoir of a Deer Woman" by M. Rickert is something very different. A woman hits a deer with her car and it has to be killed. This changes her life and that of people around her.

I'm usually very pleased with Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction but this one is an especially great issue. What are you waiting for? Subscribe!

(see review)

Paradox - The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction by (Paradox Publications January 2007 / $7.50) - Paradox: The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction - Issue 10 - Winter 2006-2007. Paradox Publications, PO Box 22897, Brooklyn, NY 11202-2897
Single Copies - $7.50 in USA and possessions, $8 in Canada, $10 elsewhere Four issue subscription - $25 in USA and possessions, $27 in Canada, $35 elsewhere
Table of Contents: Fiction: Amante Doree by Sarah Monette * After the Circus by Danny Adams * The Qualities of a Monarch by C. Kevin Barrett * Marathon by Bruce Durham * The Duke of Bedford Prays for His Brother's Soul by Anne Sheldon * The Luck of the Irish by Brian K. Crawford * Somewhere, Sometime on the Nile by Stephanie Dray Poetry: Road at Nightfall by Jeremy l. Goldberg * Julian's Persian Expedition (A.D. 363) by Eileen Kernaghan * Guinevere by M. Frost Departments: From the Editor * New Books * Film Reviews * Contributor Biographies

The Winter issue of Paradox is a good one with all but one of the stories getting a Very Good from me. "Amante Doree" by Sarah Monette is set in an alternate Nouvelle Orleans. Annabel St. Clair is an unusual spy who is caught up in a murder and saved by a kind gentleman. In "After the Circus", Danny Adams gives us a nice little tale about an alternate 1922 Germany in which a famed WWI German pilot meets up with Adolph Hitler. "The Qualities of a Monarch" by C. Kevin Barrett is an OK but implausible story about a different fate for Anne Boleyn.

"Marathon" by Bruce Durham features a time-traveler who visits the famous battle of that title and must set a mistake right. "The Duke of Bedford Prays for His Brother's Soul" by Anne Sheldon is a nice little tale set in 1431 France. Brian Carwford's "The Luck of the Irish" is an ironic story about pirates that make a big mistake. Last of all, "Somewhere, Sometime on the Nile" by Stephanie Dray has a nice little twist about a woman losing her child at a significant time in history.

With nice illustrations, good poetry and interesting reviews, this is well worth subscribing to.

(see review)

Postscripts - #8, Autumn 2006 by Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers (PS Publishing Autumn 2006 / $10.00) - Postscripts – Autumn 2006 – Number 8
PS Publishing Ltd, Grosvenor House, 1 New Road, Hornsea, East Yorkshire, HU18 1PG, England
Published quarterly-$10/copy, $50/annual subscription
Table of Contents: Fiction: The Bordello in Faerie by Michael Swanwick * The Empty Pool by Robert Edric * Fear of Rain by Robert T. Jeschonek * The On-Deck Circle by Gene Wolfe * Nature Tale by Matthew Hughes * Red Nails by Brian A. Hopkins * Fighting the Zeppelin Gang by Darrell Schweitzer * Alsiso by Tony Richards * Happy Time by Scott William Carter * Ninja Two-Fifty by K.W. Jeter* Billy and the Talking Plant by Terry Bisson Non Fiction: Editorial: The Singularity by Terry Bisson

Postscripts is an attractive digest-sized magazine published by PS Publishing, the UK publisher of many fine books. This 144-page issue has a great line-up of authors and I hope to review more issues in the future.

First up, we have "The Bordello in Faerie" by Michael Swanwick, a story that got an Excellent rating from me. Ned Wilkins is a factory worker who lives along the border of Faerie and has heard about the bordello there. It takes him sometime to get there and he has a surprising experience when he does. He returns again & again and this hurts his work in the normal world. Swanwick gives us a very erotic and interesting story here. Unfortunately, the next story, "The Empty Pool" by Robert Edric just gets an OK from me. A detective follows a philandering husband in a story that just does not come together. Things pickup with "Fear of the Rain" by Robert T. Jeschonek which has a very unusual take on towns visited by disaster, in this case, Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Next, we get a nice little tale called "The On-Deck Circle" in which Gene Wolfe takes the sport of baseball a bit farther into the quest for TV ratings. As usual, Wolfe does not disappoint. Matthew Hughes, in "Nature Tale", gives us another story featuring likable conman, Luff Imbry. In this one, we find out a bit about how Imbry started in his life of crime and what he does for the man who started him on it.

Brian A. Hopkins contributes a short-short in "Red Nails" but there is really not enough there for it to work for me. Darrell Schweitzer follows with a nice little story, "Fighting the Zeppelin Gang". Matthew finds out that his father is some sort of super-hero. This is not good for him or his family. What should Matthew do about following in his footsteps? "Alsiso" by Tony Richards is the story of a woman who has been in a long-term relationship with another woman but finds herself drawn to a young man. What happens makes for particularly chilling tale. Scott William Carter's "Happy Time" was another that got an Excellent from me. Dale lives a very ordered and solitary existence until a little girl literally runs into him and shows him a different world. This was a very beautiful and haunting story about possibilities and choices and I loved it.

The longest of the contributions to this issue is K.W. Jeter's "Ninja Two-Fifty". A man has a terrifying experience and loses some of his sanity. He decides to work for an ultimate goal which will be achieved by having a fast motorcycle built for him. What he eventually decides to do makes for fascinating reading. The issue ends with another "Billy" tale from Terry Bisson, "Billy and the Talking Plant". This is another in a series about a precocious little boy and his encounters with unusual phenomena. This isn't deep but it sure is funny.

So with two Excellent stories, only two that slightly disappoint and the rest well worth reading, I'd say that you should pickup or subscribe to this magazine, any way you can.

(see review)

Trail of Indiscretion by Brian Koscienski (Fortress Publishing Inc. Spring 2006 / $4.00) - Trail of Indiscretion - Issue no.1- Spring 2006
Published quarterly by Fortress Publishing, Inc. c/o Brian Koscienski, 3704 Hartzdale Drive, Camp Hill, PA 17011. $4/single issue- $14 / 1-year (4 issues)-postage included.
Table of Contents: Calling Out by Eric Hardenbrook * Why I Am No Longer a Lawyer by Brian Koscienski * Child of Wood by Jeff Young * Election 2040 by Den Wilson * Moon Dance by Danielle Ackley-McPhail * Death Rides Train 46 by Nellie Batz * Blue Line Star (Episode 1) by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano * Talent (Contributors)

Trail of Indiscretion is a nice small-press magazine with all stories less than 5000 words and most having a humorous tone. I liked all but one of the stories here and will be reviewing at least on issue in the future.

First up is "Calling Out" by Eric Hardenbrook in which a man tries developing an artificial intelligence telemarketer but runs into trouble. He also introduces several other AI programs that work against the telemarketer. Publisher Brian Koscienski contributes "Why I Am No Longer a Lawyer", a funny little deal-with-the-devil story. In "Child of the Wood", a boy cuts off his finger and buries it. He disappears from the story but two women are affected by his act.

"Election 2040" by Den Wilson is satirical take on automating elections and going a bit farther than necessary to do it. "Moon Dance" by Danielle Ackley-McPhail is 1 two-page long fantasy and that is just not enough to sustain an interesting story. In "Death Rides Train 46" by Nellie Batz, a long-time commuter's life is shaken up quite a bit. Last we get, "Blue Line Star (Episode 1)" by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano in which a feisty young woman and her friend find a cool robot and this is the start of a grand adventure.

If you like some light reading and want to support small-press publications, then I warmly recommend Trail of Indiscretion.

(see review)

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