The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction March/April 2010 - Volume 118, No. 3&4, Whole No. 688
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Tomislav Tikulin
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 22 February 2010
Links: Fantasy & Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The March/April 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another good one, and I enjoyed every story.
The issue starts with "Amor Fugit" by Alexandra Duncan, a beautiful, but sad, romance. Our narrator is a young woman, named Ourania, who begins by telling us of her father and mother. Her father goes off every morning and returns at dusk. As he is returning, her mother disappears and is gone for the night. We get a mythic story of a couple called Day and Night which seems to explain the situation. One day, Ourania goes for a walk into an olive grove and falls asleep under a tree. She awakes on hearing voices and sees a mother and her daughter at play. She, then, meets a young man, who wonders at her out-of-date clothing. He tells her that he is a locomotive engineer but she does not know what that is. She promises to meet him in the same place in a week, but he does not show up and so enfolds something beautiful. This was a good beginning to the issue.
I always enjoy Albert E. Cowdrey, especially when he is in his element with something set in Louisiana. "Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History" takes place up the Mississippi a bit at an abandoned fort that will soon disappear under the waves. A young photographer named Saffron Genève is hired by the National Park Service to take pictures of the fort before it is engulfed. Her guide is a historian named Dr. Quentin Corman who tells her the story of the only interesting incident at the fort, one which involves yellow fever, a hurricane, a mysterious prisoner, and death. All this leads to a surprising end and shows us, once again, that Cowdrey is Lousiana's fantasy poet laureate.
We can always count on Tim Sullivan for a delightfully, different tale and "Star-Crossed" fills that bill rather nicely. Wolverton works on an asteroid called LGC-1 and, one day, is almost killed by a huge mining machine that just barrels in out of nowhere and churns up everything in its path. He is saved by a warning shout from one of his co-workers, a woman named Nozaki that he has a bit of a crush on. The story really gets strange when Nozaki tells him that this digger is from a universe parallel to their own. If that sounds strange, then her reason for knowing this is even stranger. More I won't tell except to say this was a very enjoyable adventure.
"Make-Believe" by Michael Reaves starts out at what seems like a boyhood memory who we might as well assume is Reaves. It is May, 1955, and our narrator is seven years old and out hunting "injuns" with his friends, Tom Harper and Michael James, armed with top-of-the line toy guns. They are ranging near a place called Arrowhead Cave, which had been sealed off in 1938 after four boys died after being lost in it. Their make-believe merges with an unbelievable reality in this haunting, but effective tale.
The locale shifts from the West to New York City, specifically the East Village, with "Waiting for the Phone to Ring" by Richard Bowes. Our narrator is a writer who gets a call, one morning, from an old friend named Marty Simonson, a director of plays, who reminds him of an old friend named Judy Finch. Judy had been part of a band called Lord of Light in the early '70s. This all sets up a story about her and a charismatic member of the band named Ray Light and other people and the tragedy that envelops them all. This had a nice sense of time and place, and was a good yarn to boot.
Next up, is "Epidapeles and the Insufficiently Affectionate Ocelot" by Ramsey Shehadeh. One could say this is supremely silly, but that's what I like about it. It involves a chair named Door (really) who is a familiar to an incompetent, not-very-bright wizard named Epidapeles. They become involved with a king who is much distressed that his pet ocelot does not love him. Like I said, supremely silly, but fun.
Benjamin Rosenbaum's "The Frog Comrade" turns the tale of the frog prince on its ear. Our central character is a former princess, the younger daughter of a royal family that had been deposed by a revolution. When her father comes home from prison, he brings her a frog that he says a witch gave to him. The frog can talk but refuses the princess's kiss because it would distract from working for the common good under the new system. The princess tells him that the new system has been deposed and replaced by one which sounds a little more benevolent. The frog is still a devotee of these revolutionaries and will not be dissuaded from its goal to bring it back. All this sets up a fun tale which I enjoyed quite a bit.
Despite its title, "The Fairy Princess" by Dennis Danvers, is not a fantasy. It takes place in a near future, in which realistic "Screwbots" are produced to look like anything the renter (they are only temporary) desires. Our narrator works at a Screwbot factory named Skelley's and is working late one Christmas Eve, debriefing the bots which have come in and wiping their memories. She has only one left, but it seems not to have any paperwork associated with it and she is uncertain as how to proceed. She decides to wake it up and things take a strange turn. This one was a very nice romance and quite touching.
"Blue Fire" by Bruce McAllister is a quite fascinating historical fantasy set in the Vatican in the 16th century. It involves the Child Pope, Boniface XII, who had won election to the Papacy at age eight, thanks to his influential uncle, one Cardinal Voccasini. When he was a child, the Drinkers of Blood attacked the Holy City and had only been repulsed by Boniface's uncle, directing three hundred priests loosing arrows tipped with wood from The Cross. Now, as an old man on his death bed, he is asked by a young man who is a recorder for the Verbum Dei about His Holiness's encounter with a being called the Youngest Drinker, who had been no older than the Pope at the time. McAlllister tells a rich tale, here.
Last of all, the veteran Rand B. Lee gives us "Class Trip". This one is a bizarrely laid out piece about a young girl called Pink who is part of a group that is going to be paired up with an alien race, to see how compatible their races might be. It skips around in time but was still quite a good read.
F&SF keeps up its good record with this issue. You should subscribe!