The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction September/October 2014 – Volume 127, Nos.3&4, Whole No.715
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Bryn Barnard for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: B004ZFZCKY
Date: 29 August 2014
Links: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The September/October 2014 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#715) is another very good one.
The fiction in the issue starts with novelette, "The Rider" by Jérôme Cigur -+- Luke is a rider for an AI named David. This means he does various jobs for David, who is one of an AI breed called a Hatara, named after their creator. The Hataras are being hunted down by rival AIs called Hotodas and David and Luke must do something about that. Never really got very interested in this one.
"The Caravan to Nowhere" by Phyllis Eisenstein -+- Phyllis Eisenstein has been writing Alaric stories since 1971 and they are always excellent. This one is no exception. Alaric, for those who came in late, is a bard who sings his songs and plays his lute to the delight of all. He also has the power to instantaneously transport from one place to the other. For obvious reasons, he keeps that under wraps. Here, he winds up joining the caravan of a merchant named Piros who journeys out into the desert on camels to get salt and other things. As the journey begins, Alaric notes that Piros' relationship to his son, Rudd, is not the best. He will find out why. He will also see a "lost city" in the distance in the dunes and find out about a deadly drug called the Powder of Desire, that makes you feel like a king. All in all, another great story from Eisenstein.
"Marketing Strategies of the Apocalypse" by Oliver Buckram -+- Johnny and the Colonel are fighting killbots in a post-apocalyptic word, but that doesn't mean they can't tale a pause for some product placement. The last one is a real hoot, but I'm surprised this story wasn't placed later in the issue, just past page 200.
"Sir Pagan's Gift" by Tom Underberg -+- Sir Pagan is a voyager who comes to proclaim the Book of Flame. That is not the real name of the creature who has no gender at this time, different pronouns are used. Sir Pagan upsets the culture of the town. The townspeople do not seem human (especially in one scene) but this looks much like the culture of medieval times with lords, priests, bishops, fishermen, and fishmongers. It is those last two that the conflict of the story revolves around. The fishermen signed contracts with the fishmongers when the fishing is good. Now it is not and the fishermen are always in debt. Will the execution for heresy of Sir Pagan change things? Nicely imaginative story, but it lacked much characterization beyond that of Sir Pagan.
"Other People's Things" by Jay O'Connell -+- Chris is a lonely guy who cannot get a girlfriend. He goes to the office of Manuel B. Peebles, Attractiveness Consultant, who can help him -- for a fee. Peebles has some pretty incredible things he uses to help Chris. like pills that will help make his pheromones more attractive and pills that help him be empathetic. Things do work out in this cute little story.
"The Culvert" by Dale Bailey -+- Doug's twin brother disappeared in a culvert they were exploring when they were thirteen years old. This has haunted him ever since. We get the story of Doug's life in little bits. But the killer line of the story is the last one.
"The Wild Ones" by Albert E. Cowdrey -+- One thousand years before this story opens, Earth had become uninhabitable because of wars and a nasty plague created by a madman. The survivors had abandoned it and gone to a planet called Omega that circled Proxima Centauri. Life there wasn't that great either so a bunch of malcontents had decided to go back to Earth. Surely it would be habitable by now. On the way, two children, Alexander and Carmela, had been born to different parents and things were looking up. Unfortunately, Alexander soon became a feral child and was nicknamed Mowgli. Carmela became his wild accomplice. Then, they get to Earth and find out all animal life attacks humankind, a holdover from that plague. What to do? You might not be surprised by how things turned out but it all makes for a fun little story.
"Embrace of the Planets" by Brenda Carre -+- Eleanora Watson can only walk with the aid of canes and braces due to a horrible accident when she was young but she has made her way to a shop called Trove, run by an old man named Benght. The shop is located in the town of Port Millicent, British Columbia and has the oddest selection of good. She has tea with clotted cream with Benght when she becomes uneasy and leaves, to find out she has been transported to eighteenth-century France. I won't give way any more details but will say that this was wonderful story.
"Avianca's Bezel" by Matthew Hughes -+- This is another story of Raffalon the thief who, due to a problem in the city of Wal finds himself under a geas to do the bidding of a wizard named Vidlo. He must steal something called Avianca's Bezel. A bezel is the part of a ring that holds a gemstone or an insignia. A wizard named Avianca carved a rune into the bezel that has great power. Raffalon also learns that Vidlo used to be a porter to a wizard called Baltazeer but had taken advantage of him when he had been visiting the Fourth Plane. The parts of Baltazeer's soul were separated and he was now a prisoner in the Third Plane. Raffalon is transported to the place where the bezel is kept, a room in the house of a witch named Groger. He finds the bezel and when he touches it the geas laid on by Vidlo is lifted. Now all he must do is escape an entirely enclosed room with some beast in it that is stalking him. The story proceeds to the kind of great ending we usually get from Hughes.
"Will He?" by Robert Reed -+- Adelman is a man who hates the world because it does not recognized his genius. He creates a virus that will kill four billion people. He wants to protect himself and a few others but would those others want him? Reed can frequently leave you guessing and draw your own conclusions and that is the only way to end this remarkable story.
"The Way We Are" by Ray Vukevich -+- Our narrator is on a date with the beautiful Maggie, but "What's the password?" she asks. He eventually figures it out. Cute!
The fiction concludes with "The Thing in the Backyard" by David Gerrold -+- Our narrator is having trouble with burglaries and his friend Dan Goodman has a solution. Pesky Dan (as he is called) brings by a homeless half-troll (on his mother's side) named Emmett-Murray and convinces the narrator to let him stay for a while. Emmett-Murray is only a meter tall. How could be a problem? And his roar will keep burglars away. Well, the half-troll quickly wears out his welcome and our narrator hates having him around. But E-M thrives on the resentment and he grows to two meters. Our narrator has to get rid of him. How? You might figure out what he is going to do but it's an amusing story and a lot of fun, especially the last line.