The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction May/June 2013 – Volume 124, Nos. 5&6, Whole No. 707
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Kristen Kest for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 28 April 2013
Links: Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The fiction in the issue starts with the novelette "Grizzled Veterans of Many and Much" by Robert Reed – When Brad was eight year old, his grandfather was one of the first to undergo the process called Transcendence. Wires were attached to his brain and his thoughts were transferred into a machine that allowed him to live many years in the few days he still lived. During that time, he invented many things so the family has been able to live off of the profits. Over Brad's life we see the effects this process has on the world and on him. Interesting speculation and a fine story.
"By the Light of the Electronic Moon" by Angélica Gorodischer – This was actually first published in 1979, but has recently been published in English as part of a novel in stories called Trafalgar. It has been translated by Amalia Gladheart. Our narrator tells us about meeting an old friend, Trafalgar Medrano, a specialist in import-export, in a retro-bar named Burgundy. Trafalgar tells him about an encounter with a maybe-woman, one of those who rule the planet Veroboar. Not a lot happens, but the fun is how the story is told. Apparently, there are other stories about Trafalgar. They could be fun, too.
"Changes" by Rand B. Lee - Whitsun and his burro Francesca travel through a barren landscape. Fifteen years ago, the Great Probability Storm had struck. Millions of people vanished. Why is not clear. The world has become splintered into probability-zones which contain "slices of the past, future or alternative presents more or less probable". These zones can be as small as a meter across or as large as a city (Washington, D.C. was now a malarial swamp (who could tell the difference?)) or even as large as a small country (Luxembourg). Whitsun is a Fair Dealer who is immune to the little probability storms that might occur at any time. In his blood is something called wealfire that can heal some of the ills of the world. We see Whitsun encounters a pack of dogs from many dimensions with whom he can communicate. This was a great story with a lot of imagination. But I want to know what happens next.
"The Woman in the Moon" by Albert E. Cowdrey – Cowdrey is top-rate when he writes his stories set in Southern locales, especially New Orleans. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. It consists of an old professor telling his son-in-law the story about how his career started. It's a pretty good tale, but Cowdrey puts on lame jokes like a college called the Sarah Plain School of Mines in Nyunyuk, Alaska and the Society for the History of Industrial Technology. He even has to mentioned that group's "unfortunate acronym" in case someone missed it.
"Wormwood is Also a Star" by Andy Stewart – This novella opens in 1992 and is set in the newly-independent Ukraine, in the city of Pripyat, inside the "Angel's Tear". We find out that this area is about four and a half blocks of the city's center and is immune from the radiation from Chernobyl. Mitka is a reporter who has done a story on a family of orphan children who survived the disaster and are also immune from radiation. The have also developed psychic powers and the Angel's Tear (or Zone of Alienation) is somehow connected to them. Mitka is having an affair with the oldest of the children, Vitaly, who is nineteen. Lately, things have taken a bad turn. Three of Mitka's siblings have committed suicide by taking cyanide pills they somehow obtained. Mitka's father, General Demitri Zarestky is Deputy Minister of Defense and her husband, Yuri, is a deputy to the Minister of Economic Development for the new republic. Mitka and Vitaly are drawn into politics and deep secrets in this well-written story with a real sense of time and locale.
"Directions for Crossing Troll Bridge" by Alexandra Duncan – This was a brief funny little bit which combined a couple of mythological stories.
"The Bluehole" by Dale Bailey – Our narrator is Jeremy, a grown man looking back 34 years to the summer of 1982, when he turned 13. His mother had died young just before the previous Christmas and things had been grim for his father, brother, and him. Then, Jimmy moves next door. Jimmy was a good looking kid from California and Jeremy admits to having half fallen in love with him at first sight. Jimmy gets Jeremy to do daring things, drink, smoke, shoplift, and go swimming at a lake called the Bluehole, where legends abound. It was supposed to be bottomless with a monster living in it. People had drowned in it. While we know what is ultimately going to happen, this was a beautifully told nostalgic piece of writing.
"The Mood Room" by Paul Di Filippo – A brief story told by someone named Val Hallogren, one of the people who played a small part in the development of something called the Mood Room. This was one of those stories that gets so bogged down in jargon and slang it becomes almost unreadable. Nothing more to say.
"Doing Emily" by Joe Haldeman – At some future MIT, people can become famous authors. Our narrator has recently tried F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. He decides to try something different and becomes Emily Dickinson. 'She' has a meeting with a handsome young soldier. Things get strange. Okay, but not much to it.
"Systems of Romance" by Ted White – Our narrator is 232 years old and was born in 1945. His musical success has made him eligible for the immortality treatments. He meets Cecilia-B who is a brilliant mathematician. She has been using her mathematical talent to make music. They hook up and their musical collaborations is much more successful than their love-making. Won't say more other than this was a sad, bittersweet tale.
"Canticle of the Beasts" by Bruce McAllister – This is a sequel to "Blue Fire" in the Mar/April 2010 issue and, once again, it features child Pope Bonafacio versus vampires, called Drinkers. This time he is on a journey to Lake Como with a boy and girl his own age. The girl is Caterina who can see the future and is the incarnation of Madonna of Provenzano, the patroness of the city of Siena where they meet her while she is disguised as a boy. The boy is our narrator, Emilio, whom Caterina says was the emissary of the spirit of La Comapassione. His dog Stappo accompanies them. Their quest is to bring holy water, blessed by Bonifacio, to Lake Como. They are pursued by both Drinkers and the soldiers of the Doge, who are after Bonifacio. To avoid both, they head for the monastery founded by St. Francis of Assisi. They have quite an adventure on the way, but the story ends a bit inconclusively, so I hope there will be a sequel.
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