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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - September/October 2015– Volume 129, Nos.3&4, Whole No.721
Edited by C. C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Cory and Catska Ench
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 27 August 2015

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

The Sept/Oct 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#721) has stories by Albert E. Cowdrey, Nick Wolven. David Gerrold, Ron Goulart, Richard Bowes, Marissa Lingen, Paolo Bacigalupi, Bo Balder, Dennis Etchison, and Elizabeth Bear, plus the usual features.

The Sept/Oct 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#721) is a got some very good stories.

The fiction in the issue starts with "We're So Verry Sorry for Your Recent Tragic Loss" by Nick Wolven -+- Megan DeWal wakes up one morning to her smart pillow expressing regrets on her recent loss. But she hasn’t lost anyone as far as she knows. She calls her mother who knows no one who has died but has already heard about her recent loss. As she goes to work, she hears the same regrets and when she gets to work her boss has already given her bereavement leave, on a day when her 5-year internship was supposed to move to permanent employment. This continues for two months when things reach their climax. Fascinating story with a real Kafkaesque feel.

"Ten Stamps Viewed Under Water" by Marissa Lingen -+- Our narrator's sister is a novice sorcerer and laments she can do nothing about the plague that does not end. She starts collecting stamps, some from people who have died. Our narrator becomes increasingly concerned with her sister's behavior which has become erratic. Can something about these stamps stop the plague? Fascinating tale.

"A Hot Day's Night" by Paolo Bacigalupi -+- In a drought-stricken near-future Phoenix, reporter Lucy winds up helping Charlene steal solar panels one 100-degree night. OK.

"The Lord of Ragnarök" by Albert E. Cowdrey -+- A medieval fantasy that takes place in the late 12th century in and around the island we call Mt. Saint-Michel, here just called Michael's Mount and not having the monastery but has the estate of a count. Our story involves a man named Richard who goes from peasant boy to the knight Sir Richard de Coudray to husband to the Countess Matilda. Her first husband is dead in the Crusades and she takes a second husband Sir Drango of the Hidden Isles. It is Drango that knights Richard and promotes him. But he has a secret that makes this a fantasy and has an important effect on Richard's life. Nice little fantasy.

"A House of Her Own" by Bo Balder -+- On an alien world that had been colonized many years ago, the women have a symbiotic relationship with the natives they call hice, as a plural for house. Aoife's a young girl who has captured her own little house. When it grows big enough for her to live in, she will be an adult. Her and her sisters live with their mother in House and she is pregnant. When she comes to term, the girls must stay out. The House allows the boy she gives birth to to live as they use a limited number of men for breeding purposes. When a ship comes from Earth to establish their rule, things get dicey. Interesting idea. Well executed.

"Don't Move" by Dennis Etchison -+- A young man gets off a bus and a young woman gets off with him. He does not seem to know where to go and encounters the woman several times. She is fearful of something. Things get stranger and more nightmarish in this seriously unsettling story.

"Monsieur" by David Gerrold -+- Our narrator is part of a writer's workshop. He reads them the beginning of a vampire a story he is writing. Eventually our narrator starts typing into his laptop, and the others leave, all but one, a man who has come to the group for the first time, a pale man named Jacob. They start talking about vampires and he tells some of his story which begins in mid-19th century Seattle when as a young boy he meets a man he calls Monsieur. We are told that this is the opening part of a novel called Jacob which will shortly appear as a limited edition. It stands fairly well on its own and might make those interested in this sort of story willing to continue.

"The Bone War" by Elizabeth Bear -+- Bijou the Artificier is asked to reconstruct and reanimate a dinosaur called the Tidal Titan from the many bones that have been found. She agrees to do the job which takes years. She has to deal with competing versions of what the dinosaur should look like from Drs Azar and Munquidh. She does not know how to please everyone so she decides to please the dinosaur. Wonderfully amusing.

"The Adventure of the Clockwork Men" by Ron Goulart -+- Another story of Harry Challenge, master sleuth of the early 20th century. When a reporter who had hired the Challenge Detective Agency is killed and Harry's light-of-love, the spunky reporter Jennie Barr goes missing, Harry and his friend the Great Lorenzo, go into action. They know that Harry's nemesis, Doctor Grimshaw is up to no good. They quickly find Jennie and she tells them that Grimshaw is planning to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London using "a dozen or so of those nasty clockwork men he's busily building to storm the palace." They beat Grimshaw with their usual flair. Great fun.

"Rascal Saturday" by Richard Bowes -+- Janina is a member of the rich Dineen family but she did not find out how they became rich until she was a teenager. They had found a way to an alternative world named Naxos and her grandparents rule there. They are eventually deposed by her father who had his own ideas on ruling, involving forcing Janina to bear his child. She rejects that and comes up with her own way to be with her lover Sandy who is seriously handicapped. There is a lot more to the story, including a world devastated by climate change, but it failed to involve me.

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