Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2018 - Volume 134, Nos. 1 & 2, Whole No.735
Edited by C. C. Finlay
Cover Artist: Mondolithic Studios for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine (print/digital) ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 29 December 2017
Links: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction / How to Subscribe / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
The Jan/Feb 2018 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (#735) is here and it starts 2018 on a high note with a bunch of good stories.
The fiction in the issue starts with "Widdam" by Vandana Singh. -+- In a future of droughts and no winters, Dinesh thinks of the Monster, the World-Destroying World Machine, the Widdam. Intelligent machines made so by a computer virus, seek to make things right. What hope is there for the future. A melancholy look at the future.
"Aurelia" by Lisa Mason -+- Ambitious lawyer Robert Morgan is intrigued by his client, Aurelia Mariposa, who calls him the One. He is attracted to her even though she sometimes smells "dampness and topsoil and wet leaves". She is a multimillionaire with a beautiful house and he winds up marrying her. But, she is distinctly odd with an eating disorder and a secret in her studio. Add to that reports of people being found with their blood drained and you can see where this is going. Still, it's a pretty good dark fantasy.
"Neanderthals" by Gardner Dozois -+- Neanderthals have been brought back through DNA manipulation. They still don't get along with modern man. Amusing.
"Jewel of the Heart" by Matthew Hughes -+- The third Archonate tale about Baldemar, assistant to the thaumaturge Thelerion, first introduced in "Ten Half-Pennies" in the March-April 2017 and continued in “The Prognosticant” in the May-June 2017 issue. In this story, the Helmet of Sagacity sets Baldemar on a quest into another Plane and with a surprising outcome. Another interesting chapter in the development of this character. Can't wait to see where it goes next.
"A List of Forty-Nine Lies" by Steven Fisher -+- A man whose name is not Levi and did not lose a wife and child thinks many thoughts that cannot be read by machines hovering above. Great little one-pager.
"An Equation of State" by Robert Reed -+- An alien asks to observe the human race so as to be able to defeat them when the time comes. But he winds up doing something else entirely. Another very unusual tale from Robert Reed.
"Galatea in Utopia" by Nick Wolven -+- In a future where people can change gender and appearance at will, normally male Rick goes 100% female pin-up. He meets Alan who is ugly, short, dark, and bald and falls for him. Alan is what is called a "permanent" and can't change. Rick becomes his woman every weekend. But then, he finds out what Rick is really about. Fascinating look at a near-future and the myth of Galatea.
"The Equationist" by J.D. Moyer -+- From childhood, Niall Skinner has always seen people's lives as various types of equations. He even manipulated some of them about what to do with their lives to their benefit. But what could he make of his own life? Very interesting and unusual story.
"A Feather in Her Cap" by Mary Robinette Kowal -+- Due to her father's mistakes, Biantera's family fortunes were wiped out. Her still-proud mother is appalled by her owning a millinery shop. She'd be even more shocked by her sideline -- assassin. When someone doesn't pay her, she takes action. The usual wonderful story we get from Kowal.
The fiction concludes with "The Donner Party" by Dale Bailey. -+- In an alternate Victorian England, the upper classes have "ensouled flesh" for First Feast and Second Feast. Mrs. Breen comes from humble roots and has only, so far, given her husband a daughter, Sophie. She is honored by an invitation from Lady Donner, second only to the Queen, for First Feast and loves her first taste of the main course. Lady Donner seems quite taken with her and her status is elevated. But a faux pas results in her being cast down. What can be done to restore her status. You might see the end of this coming but the buildup is very unsettling. Brilliant "biting" satire.