The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction July/August 2010 – Volume 119, No. 1&2, Whole No. 690
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Thomas Canty
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 26 June 2010
Links: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The July/August 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another great one with real variety in its stories.
The issue starts with "Recrossing the Styx" by Ian R. MacLeod. Frank Onions is the resident tour host aboard the Glorious Nomad, a huge nuclear-powered cruise ship in a somewhat-near-future. Most of the passengers on this ship are people that have escaped death (through a process that involves memories uploaded, organs renewed and mechanical bodies) and their minders. The minders give up something of themselves for these revivified dead and Frank meets one couple that are even more unusual. They are an incredibly beautiful woman named Dottie Hastings and her "dead" husband Warren. She seems incredibly devoted to him and there is a reason for this. When she asks Frank to help her achieve her freedom, a reader with knowledge of film noir might suspect something is up, but that reader might still be surprised at the end. I was surprised and pleased.
In Michael Alexander's "Advances in Modern Chemotherapy", Larry is a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy which is failing. He knows some fellow patients but gets to know them better when he finds he can communicate with them through thoughts alone. This is not limited to those that are close by. This is Alexander's debut story and it's a good one, developing some memorable characters and creating a good story. I'll look forward to more stories by him.
Next up is "Brothers of the River" by Rick Norwood. This is a fantasy set "many thousands of years before the flood" and concerns twin brothers, Tiger and Shallow. They aren't identical twins but they differ by more than looks. They have different personalities and are fiercely competitive. Through different adventures, they each learn "the old strong magic" and use it to benefit their village. One morning, Tiger proposes to Shallow that they have a race to the mountains and see who can taste snow first. Norwood gives us a fine little fairy story here.
"The Revel" by John Langan is told by a very detached narrator about a vicious werewolf, tearing people up in a small town. We are told about some of the victims, the village, the police chief, a woman named Barbara Dinasha and the werewolf. Langan manages to give us a lot of detail while telling the story in a unique, but interesting way.
Brenda Carre's "The Tale of Nameless Chameleon" is another fantasy set in the kingdom of Hasp. Our unnamed narrator is a pauper who saves the life of the loathsome Prince Sham, a heroic act that costs the life of her only friend. To save her own life, she agrees to become the Prince's agent in the Academy of the Twelve Sages to find out who tried to assassinate him. She uses what happens to her to her advantage in this very imaginative story. This is another first sale and I hope we hear more from Carre.
I always like the stories of Albert E. Cowdrey and "Mister Sweetpants and the Living Dead" does not disappoint. This one was different from many of Cowdrey's other work in that it is set in Florida, not Louisiana and is decidedly light in tone. Manfred Riordan is President of Five Star Protective Services and he is hired by a friend from high school. The friend is a noted author named Ted Dance who is being menaced by an ex-lover named Zane Cord. Making matters more complex is that Zane was killed and has, apparently, being revivified. All is resolved in a fun and amusing way.
Richard Bowes contributes another "autobiographical" piece in "Pining to Be Human". Our narrator is a man who begins the story by telling of the Witch Girls that he saw "gliding over the grass" in upstate New York when he was four. The story advances as our narrator winds up, as an adult, in New York City and he relates much of his life to his psychiatrist, Maria Lovell. Part of the story involves a production of a play called Dark of the Moon in which a Witch Boy is told he can never become human. All this is a metaphor for our hero and his life of drugs and lovers. The actual fantasy here is very light but the story is beautifully told.
In the introduction to "Epidapheles and the Inadequately Enraged Demon" by Ramsey Shehadeh, Gordon Van Gelder mentions that the previous Epidapheles story had a number of reactions. There are four negative and two positive reactions quoted and the "supremely silly, but that's what I like about it" is mine. The other positive review wanted to see more like it from the author. Let me add my voice to that 'give us more'. This one, again, involves the incompetent wizard Epidapheles and his familiar, an invisible, animated chair named Door. We find out how Door got its name and also journey to "the demonic realm of Disembowelebub the Eternally Enraged". This story was much more than supremely silly. It had a lot of heart, even though the tone was delightfully amusing. Shehadeh's style really makes the story, coming up with a word like "magipropisms" to describe Epidapheles spells gone wrong, and I do want to see more.
Very different in tone but also very good was "The Lost Elephants of Kenyisha" by Ken Altabef. In a part of Kenya bordering Tanzania what seems to be wild elephant stampedes have caused the Tanzanians to lift the ban on killing elephants. This especially upsets Merrian Aprilwood, not just because she worries about the extinction of the species. She genuinely loves the animals and has names for all of them. Her colleague, Ian Hartwick-Corning calls in an old friend, Dr. Nicholas Falconer, a expert in Psychical Studies. Her rationalist mind has a hard time accepting that it seems to be the ghosts of deceased elephants who are enraged at their species imminent extinction. This was another well-told story that I enjoyed immensely.
"Introduction to Joyous Cooking, 200th Anniversary Edition" by Heather Lindsley is a brief, amusing piece that is supposed to be the introduction of a cookbook in 2132. We get some interesting comments that tells us of future developments in cooking, making this a lot of fun.
Sean McMullen gives us something very different to end the issue in "The Precedent". In a near future, global warming has become irreversible and the world has been taken over by self-righteous ideologues who are holding trials and ordering the executions of millions who they deem responsible. These include just ordinary people whose crimes only loom large in retrospect. One man, Jason Hall, has led an exemplary life, but it still on trial. What happens to him will not make you feel much better but this is not a story that you will forget soon.
I liked this issue of F&SF a lot and, once more, recommend that you subscribe!