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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction September/October 2010 - Volume 119, No. 3&4, Whole No. 691
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Bryn Barnard for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 30 August 2010

Links: Fantasy & Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The September/October 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is their Anniversary Issue and has stories by Richard Chwedyk, Dale Bailey, Alexandra Duncan, Ken Liu, Fred Chappell, Richard Matheson, James L. Cambias, Rick Wilber and Nick DiChario, Michael Swanwick, David Gerrold, and Terry Bisson.

The September/October 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is their Anniversary Issue and that's always special. This one is right in line with that tradition with one story being Hugo-worthy.

The issue starts with "Eating at the End-of-the-World Café" by Dale Bailey. Eleanor works at the End-of-the World-Café, trying to make enough money to by medicine for her ailing daughter. She goes a bit far and actually steals money from the cash register. She is caught and is given a couple of options to get out of trouble. This is the kind of story that makes you feel uneasy.

Up next is "The Window of Time" by one of the masters of the genre, Richard Matheson. An old man feels like a fifth wheel living with his daughter and her family. He sees an ad about a retirement home called Golden Years and decides to check it out. When he arrives there, he is shown a room to see if it it what he needs. It's not anything spectacular but when he looks out of the windows, he realizes that he is looking at the Brooklyn from when he was a boy. Matheson gives us another one of his great stories involving time travel. It will be on my Hugo short list for next year,

James L. Cambias gives us a nice little fantasy in "How Seosiris Lost the Favor of the King". Seosiris is a great magician in the seventh year of the Pharoah Merneptah, son of Ramesses the Great. He is the nephew of Meneptah and enjoys great favor. That is, until a foreign magician from the far north arrives with great magic. Seosiris is not without tricks of his own.

It has been six years since we have had a story of the miniature intelligent dinosaur toys called saurs, but finally Richard Chwedyk returns to the magazine with "Orfy". Back are Axel, Agnes, Doc and the rest, this time dealing with a tragedy. One of the saurs, Diogenes suddenly dies and the saurs are deeply affected as are Tom, Dr. Margaret and the other humans. Chwedyk does a great job here showing how the saurs react to death. I hope he returns with another saur story soon.

In "Blind Spot", Rick Wilber and Nick DiChario write a touching story about a man dealing with the death of his father. His father had been a pitcher with the minor league Rochester Red Wings and had pitched a perfect game in 1968. Unfortunately, the father had been drunk and abusive and they had been estranged for many years. This story had already appeared in the last issue of the baseball-themed 108 Magazine but I'm glad it was reprinted here.

I am a big fan of Michael Swanwick and was happy to see him represented here with "Steadfast Castle". The story consists of a conversation between a police officer and an intelligent house. The house has a female personality (and a body unit to go with it). The officer is looking for the whereabouts of the house's master and a woman. As the story develops we find out what has happened in another perfect little story from Swanwick.

"The Door in the Earth" by Alexandra Duncan is narrated by a young man named Ren who is telling us about the trip he and his brother, Trey, take to visit their mother who lives in a cave with the man she left their father for. They live in a converted cave and Trey likes it as well as the boyfriend. Ren doesn't. He also concerned with the door inside the cave that lead to something deeper. This situation grows dire partly because Ren does something really stupid. I always think that makes a story a bit contrived, so this was the only story I was disappointed with.

Next, David Gerrold weighs in with the hilarious "F&SF Mailbag", an epistolary story consisting of letters written by Gerrold to Gordon Van Gelder. "Gerrold" is not happy with various cost-cutting measures that "Van Gelder" is taking. I won't say what these measures are because I don't want to ruin the surprise. I just enjoyed this one a lot.

"The Literomancer" by Ken Liu is set in Taiwan in September 1961. Lilly Dyer has moved there with her mother and father who is doing some kind of consultant work with the U.S. military and the Nationalist government. She is shunned by her classmates but things turn up when she meets an old Chinese man and his adoptive grandson. The old man in a "literomancer" who can tell fortunes based on words that they choose. Liu writes a good story here, although Yankee fans might have a problem with the ending.

Terry Bisson shows how good a writer he is with "About It". The "It" is a artificially-created Sasquatch. The narrator works in the Lab that creates it and takes it home when they have no use for it. What follows is a poignant tale about what happens after that.

Last of all there is "Uncle Moon in Raintree Hills" by Fred Chappell. Two boys try working magic to keep their grandmother alive but fail, for reasons that will be obvious to the reader. As things go further, the horror intensifies in this chilling story.

F&SF has now been around for more than sixty years and they are still the best magazine in the country. Subscribe!

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