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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - January/February 2016 Volume 130, Nos.1&2, Whole No.723
Edited by C. C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Martian Vortex by Bob Eggleton
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 27 December 2015

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

The Jan/Feb 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#723) has stories by Alex Irvine, David Gerrold, Matthew Hughes, Gregory Benford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Bennett North, Nick Wolven, Terry Bisson, Leo Vladimirsky, Betsy James, Albert E. Cowdrey, and E. Lily Yu, plus the usual features.

The Jan/Feb 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#723) is here and it's another great one.

The fiction in the issue starts with "Vortex" by Gregory Benford. -+- Scientists Viktor, and Julia, from Benford's novels, are still involved in research on Mars. A Chinese research team has set up a base near one of the fissures they'd discovered. Political problems on Earth are also having an effect. A phenomena called the Marsmat responds to what the Chinese are doing in a big way. Interesting.

"Number Nine Moon" by Alex Irvine -+- Mars is being abandoned but Marco, Bridget, and Steuby want to make a quick trip to Hellas Basin to do some looting. Unfortunately, an accident kills Marco and puts their lander out of commission. How can they get back to Pavonis Mons to evacuate in time? Steuby comes up with a bizarre idea utilizing a craft which is really retro. Good story.

"Rockets Red" by Mary Robinette Kowal -+- This is set in the same universe as Kowal's Hugo Award-winning story "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" in which "a Martian base was established in the 1950s using the technology available during that era." This story is a prequel to that tale. It's 1974 and to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Arrival Day, Aaron has programmed a sequence of fireworks using those good old IBM cards (I remember those). But they get scattered out of order. How to get them re-sorted in time? It's Mom to the rescue. Great tale.

"Smooth Stones and Empty Bones" by Bennett North -+- Helena's mother is a witch and barely tolerated by the town. When her girlfriend Mariposa's brother disappears, there is suspicion. But Helena has magic stones that can briefly revive him. But she has another secret. This is North's first sale and an impressive one.

"The White Piano" by David Gerrold -+- We are told that this is David Gerrold's first ghost story and he does a fine job of it. The narrator remembers when he was a boy and his mother died. He hears a scratching and thinks it is her ghost. His grandmother tells him and his sister a story about when she was a little girl. She was staying in a house in the English countryside to escape the Nazi blitz of World War II. The owner is a publisher who escaped Germany with his wife who was a talented pianist and Jewish. She dies and he is not in the house. But her grand white piano is, and it is through that that the grandmother encounters her ghost. Well-told as always from Gerrold.

"Caspar D. Luckinbilll, What Are You Going to Do?" by Nick Wolven -+- One day, Caspar finds himself targeted by visual messages accusing him of complicity in atrocities in some obscure country. The problem is that everyone around him sees and hears these messages, too. It's called mediaterrorism and he has been randomly targeted. He loses his job, his wife, his friends. Then, he finds a way to strike back. Great concept, brilliantly executed!

"Robot From the Future" by Terry Bisson -+- Our narrator is a boy named Theodore who has a dog named Bette. One day he meets a robot who says that it's from the far future and needs gas-o-line to get back. But gas-o-line was impounded during the Greaning which took place before his Grandfather was born. He gets help to from his grandfather to resolve the situation. Another wonderfully strange story from Bisson.

"Squidtown" by Leo Vladimirsky -+- This is set in the same world as Valadimirisky's previous story "Collar" in the March/April 2014 issue. Johnny has returned home to his sister after having been in prison in the Islamic Republic of Texas. His tongue was cut out. We eventually find out why, but I don't accept the premise behind this story at all, that Texas would secede from the U.S. to become an Islamic state.

"Touch Me All Over" by Betsy James -+- Hilil is the twiner for her clan, but when she finds a glass knife, everything she touches that has been bound together falls apart. She leaves he clan and meets Timon, a master carpenter. Together, they find a new life. Pretty good story.

"Telltale" by Matthew Hughes -+- An Archonate tale featuring Hughes' character of Raffalon the Thief. Raffalon had broken into a house of Pottaphry Iglione to steal "an unequaled collection of ancient Cilistrian thumb-cymbals" that he is being paid double Guild rates to steal. He is advancing on the cabinet which holds the items and finds himself and his satchel transported to a gray beach with gray water and gray sky. He eventually finds his way to a small town and is then taken to a forest to look for a treasure. He finds no treasure but a cottage and a woman. In exchange for food and love making he tells her stories. He eventually finds out what is going on in another delightful tale from Hughes.

"The Visionaries" by Albert E. Cowdrey -+- Ghost-hunters, Jimmie and Morrie from previous stories, investigate a wooded area in North Carolina that has been cursed for centuries. The problem is that nothing happened there that could case this haunting. Reading The Divine Comedy, Jimmy comes to the conclusion that the horrific event will happen sometime in the future. It won't happen until the bad vibes of the area dissipate. He sues the sensitive Morrie as a psychic barometer and Morrie suddenly finds the area clear. They take credit for it and get well-paid and leave. But will a vision Morrie has come true? Nicely chilling.

"Braid of Days and Wake of Nights" by E. Lily Yu (Dedicated to Jay Lake and Bronwyn Lake) -+- Julia's best friend, Vivian, is dying of cancer. She hears stories of a white horse being seen in Central Park and is convinced that it is a unicorn. She believes that the unicorn's horn can cure Vivian, so she sets out in search of it. A beautiful, bittersweet tale.

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