The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sep/Oct 2017 - Volume 133, Nos. 3 & 4 Whole No. 733
Edited by C.C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine (print/digital) ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 29 August 2017
Links: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The September/October 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (#733) is a very good group of stories.
The fiction in the issue starts with "Evil Opposite" by Naomi Kritzer. -+- Shane is a graduate student in Physics, studying for his Ph.D. He isn't doing particularly well and his hated rival, Shane, got the research assistantship with Professor Goodman who has always been interested in the idea of a quantum spyglass to view alternate universes. Shane figures out how to build one and sees alternate versions of his life, like one where he was still with his girlfriend, Leslie. But using the spyglass is a distraction and his real work suffers. What should he do? Cleverly done with a good ending.
"We Are Born" by Dare Segun Falowo -+- Wura is a prolific sculptor in the village of Àlá and can use her hands to shape stone, clay, wood, or metal. But in her marriage to Ojo, she has three times given birth to daughters who died before they could walk or talk. One night, with a storm brewing, she makes a figure of a young girl out of clay which is struck by a ball of light. Life is given to what is the narrator of our story. This is a first publication for the author, from Lagos, Nigeria, who will be on my short list for nominations for a John W. Campbell Award next year. Beautifully done.
"Leash on a Man" by Robert Reed -+- Porous Mirth is the top human guard of a maximum security prison. His only superior is an AI robot guard and the warden. He has a notorious past. The prison is getting a new prisoner, a mass murderer who killed everyone on the orbiting satellite on which she lived. But he has a plan for her that will benefit him. Another great story from one of the best.
"Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast" by Gwendolyn Clare -+- A wine-taster tours the vineyards of the Qati at the request of the Emperor. But we learn that there is a bit more going on. I loved the way the true intent is revealed and the story ends really well.
"The Care of House Plants" by Jeremy Minton -+- Harry Linden, our narrator, and his partner Grayling work for NuGenera, a biotech company. They are after Sam Bendick, one of their scientists, who had disappeared with some of his research. They track him to his mother's house which is filled with plants. His mother is there, too. But what is really going on? This twists around really well. Good story.
"The Hermit of Houston" by Samuel R. Delaney -+- Our narrator tells his life story from when he was a boy through his relationship with a man who called himself Cellibrex and after that. It's in a future in which to control the population, same sex communities are the norm. Not a story easy to summarize but has that beautiful prose that Delaney is known for.
"On Highway 18" by Rebecca Campbell -+- It's the summer after high school, circa 1983. Petra and Jen are best friends and Jen has a car. There are stories about girls who hitchhike and wind up dead. Petra has a scary experience. By the end of the summer, Petra is headed to college and she and Jen have parted ways. Four years later, they meet again. Or do they? Nicely unsettling.
"Hollywood Squid" by Oliver Buckram -+- Tony Casagrande is a Hollywood director down on his luck. He wants to make a movie called Hollywood Squid starring his friend, Eppie, a member of the alien race that everyone called "squids". He's having trouble finding a backer, but things come to a head on Oscar night. Hilarious!
"Still Tomorrow's Going to Be Another Working Day" by Amy Griswold -+- The six-year-old girl is moved out and will be sent to another family. How will things go on in the future? Good ending.
"Bodythoughts" by Rahul Kanakia -+- Many times, before they are in trouble. What more can he find out next? What comes next? Okay.
"Riddle" by Lisa Mason -+- Edwin Stone is a down-down-on-his-luck artist whose girlfriend has left him. Drunk, he takes home a very different woman, a sphinx, part cat, part woman. She asks him riddles, he answers, they have passionate sex. But she does something else, too. Unsettling little horror tale.
"Children of Xanadu" by Juan Paulo Rafols – Another debut story, this time from the Philippines. In a future Philippines occupied by China, a man calling himself Doctor Joseph Salvador Garcia has risen high in the research developing super-intelligent children. But he has secrets and a plan that the occupiers are unaware of. Okay, but a bit overlong.
"The Two Choice Foxtrot of Clapham County" by Tina Connolly -+- In a small town, Tony Latham is considered a fine "drink of water" and can have his way with any of the girls. He did so with Suzie Appleby and she is going to have a stone-baby. That's a term used for a baby out of wedlock and it's actually descriptive. Suzie's options are limited in this sad tale with a little twist at the end. It accomplishes a lot in just four pages.
The fiction concludes with "Starlight Express" by Michael Swanwick. -+- This is a great way to end an issue. Flaminio is a simple water carrier in the ancient city of Roma. He lives near the piazza dell'Astrovia. There is an ancient transmission station that is still functional but would now just scatter someone's atoms into the vacuum of space. Mankind has long ago forgotten how to work it. People go there to commit suicide. But one day, a woman in white speaking an unfamiliar tongue, steps out of the platform. Flaminio takes pity on her and takes her to his home? Where is she from? What will she do? A beautiful little tale from one of the best.