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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction November/December 2010 - Volume 119, No. 5&6, Whole No. 692 by Gordon Van Gelder
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 25 October 2010

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

The November/December 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has stories by Robert Reed, Alexander Jablokov, Albert E. Cowdrey, Bruce Sterling, Michaela Roessner, Richard Bowes, Jerry Oltion, Alan Dean Foster, Michael Alexander, John Kessel, Terry Bisson, and a Plumage from Pegasus from Paul Di Filippo

The November/December 2010 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another thoroughly entertaining one!

The issue starts with "Plinth Without Figure" by Alexander Jablokov. The dictionary describes a plinth as "the lower, square part of the base of a column" or "a square base of a pedestal, as for a statue, bust or a vase". Indeed, the story deals with architecture. Frederick has made his living studying the reactions of people to urban areas and designing objects that would unobtrusively have an effect on them. He has received reports about a ghost in a place called Carver Square and decides to investigate. Years ago, he had spent a lot of time there and finds it little changed. However, an object he calls a "concrete movement influencer" had been altered to make it more noticeable. He is convinced that it is the work of and old girl friend named Andrea and seeks out her house. This sets up a beautiful story unlike anything I'd read before.

"The Exterminator's Want Ad" by Bruce Sterling was "first published online at earlier this year". It is a good thing that it is re-published here. It's is a long piece from a man who says he would up on the wrong side of a socialist revolution. We get a good satirical view of how the economy had radically changed and what our narrator has done with his life.

Michaela Roessner's "Crumbs" features Winifred, an old woman who is very good at building gingerbread houses. She won second prize in a big contest and has informed the local newspaper that she wants to recreate the house and show it in a big open house to the local children. That's a big success, but she attracts some other attention. You might figure out who this woman is but that still makes for a great little story.

The issue's novella is "Dead Man's Run" by Robert Reed. This one is actually a murder mystery with a unique twist. Lucas Pepper's friend Wade Tanner has been murdered. Lucas, with the help of Wade's other friends in a YMCA runner's group do some investigating to find the culprit. Lucas is encouraged in this endeavor by Wade's back up memory, which talks and thinks just like Wade. Well, they literally do a lot of running around until they nab the killer. This one has a delightful twist and shows, once more, just how good a writer Reed is.

"Venues" is the latest in a series of stories from Richard Bowes that will be part of a forthcoming book called Dust Devil: My Life in Speculative Fiction. This one starts in an Arts Zoo where our narrator was kept in a cage in a PR stunt to show the plight of struggling artists and writers. He gets some television time and attracts the attention of a young man named Andre. As the story develops, he does a reading and in the audience is a science fiction writer named Kinsey Herzog, who had died some years before. All this comes together for another interesting entry from Bowes.

After a disastrous date when he missed out on having sex with Frieda because he didn't have condoms ready, Nathan becomes obsessed with "Planning Ahead" in the story by Jerry Oltion. This develops into a mania which clutters his home. He wants to always have enough of a product that he might ever need and as lifetimes gets extended, this becomes more problematic. Oltion has written a witty little tale here about going too far.

Alan Dean Foster gives us a new Mad Amos Malone story in "Free Elections". Amos winds up in a town whose water supply has been cut off. It seems a large man named Versus Wrathwell has decided to "set a spell" on top of their natural spring. Malone deals with him in this wonderful little tall tale.

"Ware of the Worlds" by Michael Alexander starts with a strange object landing near the home of our narrator. It seems that this device can provide anything our narrator needs. Similar devices have appeared all over the world, causing quite a chaotic situation. This one had quite a startling conclusion.

In the introduction to "The Closet" by John Kessel, we are told that it was written as part of a Festschrift on the birthday of Ursula K. LeGuin. It begins with Carson walking out of his closet, getting dressed, riding his bicycle to work and writing a television commercial for an erectile dysfunction drug. He fields a call from his ex-wife, helps a co-worker open a jar and meets a girl at a bar, All pretty mundane until you get to one kicker of an ending. This was a perfect tribute to LeGuin.

"Swamp City Lament" by Alexandra Duncan is set in some post-apocalyptic world in a place called Lowland Nome under some sort of royal rule. The Queen of Swamp City is dead and her consort the Nomarch regent has summoned his mistresses and illegitimate children to court for the official mourning. Miren does not want to go but her mother Amri insists. There she meets up with a half-brother she calls Belly and they have something of a friendship. In the flurry of activity surrounding the choosing of a new Queen, Miren and Belly discover something extraordinary growing on a roof top, a plant. This was an interesting story with hints of other things going on.

"Teen Love Science Club" by Terry Bisson involved our narrator, her best friend Mary Lou, a boy named Trucker whom she likes and their science teacher Ms. Parnassian. They are members of a school science club that is making a black hole from used car batteries. Strange enough for you? Bisson does not stop there in another one of his unique stories.

The title "Death Must Die" in the story by Albert E, Cowdrey, has nothing to do with the Necronomicon and the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. In the story, it's the name of an anti-death penalty group. They are having a cocktail party at the home of their lawyer, Stephen Preston James, when they experience a frightening haunting by a previous deceased resident named Wellington Meeks, who had been a hangman until his death in 1927. James had already employed George Martin, a psychic investigator, and now is even more insistent on Martin's help. Along with some special assistants, Martin dispatches Meeks in a really great story.

F&SF ends the year on a high note. Subscribe!

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