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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - March/April 2016 Volume 130, Nos.3&4, Whole No.724
Edited by C.C. Finlay
Cover Artist: The Ghost Penny Post by Jason Van Hollander
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 26 February 2016

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

The March/April 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#724) has stories by John P. Murphy, Marc Laidlaw, Cat Rambo, Juliette Wade and Sheila Finch, Sarina Dorie, Nancy Kress, Justin Barbeau, Chris DeVito, N.J. Schrock, and James L. Cambias, plus the usual features.

The March/April 2016 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction(#724) is here and it's a great issue!.

The fiction in the issue starts with "The Ghost Penny Post" by Marc Laidlaw. -+- Hewell is a postal inspector in Victorian England who has been called to the village of Binderwood because the local aristocracy, Lord Pellapon, has been having troubles with his mail deliveries. On the way, the coach he is sharing with Deakins, a private detective hired by Pellapon to also investigate, is disrupted by a strange figure in black which startles one of the horses and almost overturns the coach. He finally arrives, first at the lord's mansion and, then, to the village itself, meeting a number of people: Lord Pellapon, his twin daughters, a postal delivery boy named Toby, the postmaster Merricott, the local landlord and his wife. Pellapon complains that he has been receiving mail that is not his and his own mail has gone awry. The detective pursues his own investigations and is convinced there is a vast conspiracy. Hewell discovers something else. This is rich fantasy, told in a rich style that must be savored and read slowly. I won't give away the supernatural agency at work, but will say that it is imaginative and delightful.

"Red in Tooth and Cog" by Cat Rambo -+- Renee is in the park at lunchtime when she puts her cell phone in its beautifully jeweled case next to her. Suddenly, it is stolen by what looks like a crudely modified can opener. The intelligent park robot tells her that the park is filled with small intelligent machines that have gone feral and modified themselves. The jewels on the case included opals that her godmother had given her and she wanted them back. She begins to study and "befriend" the little robots, including the one that stole her opals. Events proceed from there to become a wonderful heartwarming tale.

"Belief" by Nancy Kress -+- As the story opens, Andrea is having an argument with her daughter, Natalie, who has become interested in a educational course called iarrthoir. Andrea, a rationalist, thinks they are just spiritualist charlatans and Natalie calls the people running it researchers. Their stories split. Natalie pays money her father gave her to join the course, fingering a locket that her grandmother had given her that had come from her mother who had been given it by her mother. Back in Ireland, Natalie's great-great-grandmother had been an iarrthoir, which means seeker. The course is run by Donald and Kelly Flanagan who promise journeys into other realms of consciousness. Meanwhile at work, Andrea's colleague, Michael, rushes into her office with news that he has made a great discovery isolating the gene for Larrimer's disease. But Andrea has to tell him that in the issue of Science that went on-line that day, there was an article by other researchers that had discovered the same thing by a different method. Michael is convinced they are wrong and Andrea tries to help him knock down the other study. The two stories continue with Natalie being so obsessed by this course that her school grades suffer and Andrea's working with Michael makes her neglect her own research. The stories come together in the end for a sort of resolution. Very interesting take on the issues involved.

"The Liar" by John P. Murphy -+- Our narrator (and the titular character) is Gregory Kellogg, a fifty-something resident of the small town of Versailles (rhymes with "sails"), New Hampshire, and his lying is a supernatural power. He can convince inanimate objects to do things. He likes the "new lady pastor", Pastor Julie, who is a widow with a troublesome teenage daughter. When she offers him a job being sextant for the local graveyard, he accepts but after talking to the current sextant who is getting old and can't quite do it anymore. He tells Greg that someone will die on November 5th because someone always dies on November 5th. It always happens to a teenager and Greg's brother Adam had been one of the victims. These are all accidents that could not be murder. Greg starts investigating and finds other anomalies and a deep, dark secret. Great story with interesting characters and a pretty good resolution.

"Nanabojou and the Race Question" by Justin Barbeau -+- This is a sequel to "Nanabojou at the World's Fair" which appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue. This story takes pace in 1924, and Nanabojou, the trickster god who created North America and the various Indian tribes, hears from a goose that the Virginia state legislature is going to pass a law dividing the races into White and Negro with Indians being lumped in with the Negroes. When the whites had first arrived, Nanabojou had advised Wahunsunaqua, the chief of a great tribe to give them a gift that would turn out to be poisonous. Now, he has to investigate what they are up to. He travels to Richmond and arrays himself as a white man and is received as such. He makes some mischief. The delight in the tale is with that and also in the use of some people we know by different names and when we find out what the "poisonous gift" is.

"The Language of the Silent" by Juliette Wade and Sheila Finch -+- This is another tale in Sheila Finch's long-running (more than 25 years) series about the Guild of Xenolinguists. Juliette Wade is herself a linguist and the stories in her Allied Systems universe have concerned similar issues. In this collaboration, Ifigenia Chimalli is enroute to the planet Enikiu to facilitate a long negotiated treaty between the humans and the native Oloa when she is told that her grandmother has died. Her grandmother, rich in their Aztec heritage, had not approved of her being a lingster and had considered her a sellout. A sudden accident deprives Ifigenia of her hearing and she had visions of the god Tezcatlipoca. She decides to continue with her mission as best she can and is on a trip on the planet when she is kidnapped. She discovers another sentient species on the planet who had been enslaved by the Ohoa. Her loss of hearing becomes an asset. Great story and a worthy addition to this long series.

"Diamond" by Chris DeVito -+- Baseball. A batter called Jackie Robinson steps up to the plate and hits a triple but eventually winds up safe at home because of plowing into the third baseman and catcher. This was Robinson's first-ever at bat in the majors and no one like Robinson has played in the majors before. But it's not what you think. Well done!

"The Silver Strands of Alpha Crucis-D" by N.J. Schrock -+- Colonists from Earth are fascinated by the silver threads in the sky of the planet in the title that put on great shows in the morning and evening. They discover that these silver strands are vital to the planet's eco-system. They wonder if they are sentient. Then, they make another discovery that shows the planet is in danger. Interesting idea and a great debut story for this author. She will have to be considered for a future Campbell Award.

"A Mother's Arms" by Sarina Dorie -+- This is another story set on the same unnamed planet as Dorie's story "The Day of the Nuptial Flight" in the July/August 2014 issue. It is, again, from the point of view of a native of the planet. Our narrator is Eight-Blessed, a member of the race called the octopillar. One day, she is blissfully resting in the open with her eight babies in her eight arms. A sudden battle in the skies above between the race called the mothrafiles and an alien species rains death, killing all her children. She wants revenge and when one of the aliens falls to the ground, she rips it open to find three "larvae" inside, one of them moving. She feels pity for "her" and takes her in her arms. She cares for her and she eventually learns Eight-Blessed's language. Of course, the "larvae" is an adult male who wants to reunite with his family. But that will leave Eight-Blessed with empty arms. A touching, poignant story.

"Golden Gate Blues" by James L. Cambias -+- Mace is hired by a man who is on parole for mad scientist activities to investigate the death of a giant octopus who had terrorized San Francisco in the fifties. Apparently, it had not been killed but had only recently died. Mace finds out that its skull had been crushed. Was it a "cape" (superhero) who had done it? None were taking credit. Then, the same thing happens to a giant shark. The FBI warns Mace off. He continues his investigation, aided by his daughter. The resolution is wonderfully imaginative.

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