The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2013 – Volume 124, Nos. 1&2, Whole No. 705
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Chris Piccinetti
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 27 December 2012
Links: Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The Jan/Feb 2013 of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is here and it's got some fine stories.
The fiction in the issue starts with the novelette, "Watching the Cow" by Alex Irvine. In 2022, Jake Powers' kids, Bart and Penny, nine-year-olds, are playing a virtual reality game called Ruins of the Deep when they are suddenly struck blind, a case of hysterical blindness (nothing wrong with their eyes). They are not alone. Thirty percent of the seven million people under the age of sixteen were also blinded. The funny thing is that Bart and Penny aren't really bothered by it. Jake's sister, Ariel, works for the company that does research on the VR goggles that the kids were playing with. She confesses to Jake that she was working on something, tested it through these goggles, and all those kids went blind. She pledges to fix it, if it's the last thing she does and Jake believes her. It becomes apparent that the kids are not upset because they have developed other senses and can talk with other kids similarly afflicted. All in all, this was a pretty good story dealing with the issues that might result from such a situation.
"Night Train to Paris" by David Gerrold is narrated by a science fiction author, much like Gerrold, who has taken a night train from Milan to Paris. There he meets Claudio who tells him that people have been disappearing from the train on a regular basis. Claudio even relates something he has seen. Claudio thinks he is protected if he is talking with someone. There's a nice little twist at the end of this one.
"A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel" by Ken Liu is, not surprisingly, alternate history. In 1938, a tunnel was completed, deep underneath the Pacific Ocean, linking Shanghai, Tokyo and Seattle. Japan had got the land it wanted from China by treaty and, as a result, did not become warlike. Engineer President Herbert Hoover, who joined the project ended the Great Depression and won four terms in office. Other things changed and there was no World War II. Our narrator, a Formosan who has taken a Japanese name, was one of the original Diggers. In the early 1960s, he has entered into an affair with a young American widow and has begun remembering the darker side of the building of the tunnel. This was a great little piece of alternate history.
"Devil or Angel" by Matthew Hughes is like one of those old-fashioned fantasy movies in which a guy dies but must go back to Earth for some sort of assignment. Jason is that guy but he wound up on the wrong side. He becomes a tempter. Megan, a nice woman he met and fell in love with just before they died, is a Conscience. They do not get assigned the same individual, but they Tempters and Consciences sit on opposite sides of someone's shoulder (left and right, respectively, of course). They are meant to balance each other out. That's the setup. There are a lot of other characters involved and a bit of sword and sorcery thrown in for the most pure fun I've had in a while.
"This is How You Disappear" by Dale Bailey is written so the lead character is 'you', who has gotten old and begins to feel invisible, to family members and at work. Eventually, what one would think would happen, happens. Nasty, but effective little story.
Albert E. Cowdrey gives us another Jimmie and Morrie story in "A Haunting In Love City". The boys are called in to investigate a haunting in a big old house in a Texas town called Love City. We get a lot of background and funny characters with names like Derrick Jeeter. They are in the house when they are just missed by a tornado. Then, they make a gruesome discovery and Morrie figures out what's going on. Pretty good.
In "The Blue Celeb" by Desmond Warzel, Bill Wiggins (or narrator) and Joe Reese, who had served together in Vietnam, have run a barber shop in Harlem for decades. One day, they notice an old powder-clue Chevrolet Celebrity parked in front of their shop. Where did it come from? No one comes for it and it just sits there with the keys in the ignition. Then, a local gangster gets in it and tries to start it up. It doesn't turn over. The gangster leaves the car walks off and is hit by a bus. Three more people who get in the car wind up dead. Bill and Joe ask for help from, Frank Boone, a white cop they have known for years. The story takes a surprising turn from there, but it's a good one. Good story, solidly told with characters you like. What's more to ask for?
Robert Reed gives us another of his great stories in "Among Us". Our unnamed narrator works for a government agency that tracks people he calls Neighbors. They seem perfectly normal except they have some kind of brain implant and something shows up in their excrement. They all seem to come from large families (who are not Neighbors) and are always well-liked by everyone. Our narrator, through his job, becomes friends with one and begins to have some sympathy for him. Things get even more interesting from there, especially at the end.
The issue concludes with "Ten Lights and Darks" by Judith Moffett. When Mike, a reporter, is asked by his editor to do a story on people who claim they can psychically communicate with animals, he doesn't want the assignment. His boss twists his arm and he finally agrees. He decides to approach it by seeing one of these animal communicators interact with someone's pet. Through a friend, he meets Charlie (short for Charlotte) who has a dog, Raven, that is afraid of men. They take Raven to meet Hortensia Feely and the dog seems better. The odd thing is that Mike seems to be receiving images from the dog in his mind. This was a pleasant little tale, well-written with likable characters.
There is also a Plumage from Pegasus story, "Truth is Danger to Fiction" by Paul Di Filippo. A woman finds an easy way to write stories with little effort. But she goes too far. Funny.
F&SF starts 2013 in fine fashion. Subscribe!