Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – August 2007
by Gordon Van Gelder (Ed.)
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Tomisav Tiklun
Review by Sam Tomaino
Spilogale, Inc. ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 24 May 2007
Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
When I looked at the table of contents for the August 2007 The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I was pleased to see stories by Albert Cowdrey, Esther Friesner and Chris Willrich. They did not disappoint me.
The lead novella for the issue is "Murder in the Flying Vatican" by Albert E. Cowdrey. This is not set in New Orleans and is a sequel to Cowdrey's story in the August 2004 issue of F&SF, "The Tribes of Bela.". Once more, Robert Rogers Kuhn, a retired Colonel in Earth's Security Forces is asked to investigate a murder in space. The setting is an orbiting space station, the lamasery of an order named the White Monks, an Eastern religion. The order calls its habitat "Heaven's Footstool" but its colloquial title is "the Flying Vatican." One of the monks has been killed by a stab wound and the Chief Monk (the order's administrator) suspects one of the guests, a professional gladiator called the Black Death. Kuhn starts interviewing the monks and their guests and uncovers something surprising. I liked this story and it got a Very Good from me.
Both novelets also got a Very Good. I'm never disappointed by Esther Friesner and "At These Prices" is one of her classic funny stories. Bella Franklin is one of those hotel guests that thinks it's fine to bring home some souvenirs from her room, not just soap and shampoo but anything she can lay her hands on. This is an unusual hotel, though, and is staffed with various kinds of Fair Folk, goblins, ogres, ondines, etc, all in human guise. She is able to make a slave of a Brownie named Bixby & his friends must find a way to free him. The other novelet is "A Wizard of the Old School" by Chris Willrich, another story featuring Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone, a female & male rogue team. This story is a sequel to "Penultima Thule" in the August. 2006 but Willrich recapitulates the part of that story that we need to know to setup this one. Gaunt and Bone have disposed of a cursed book but that has left a magical residue on Bone that has left him sterile. They have returned to the wizard Krumwheezle for help. He agrees to help them, but he has an agenda of his own and thereby hangs our tale.
The issue is rounded out by two short stories. "The Mole Cure" by Nancy Farmer tells us of a man who is obsessed with the moles on his skin. He finds an unusual cure. That story got a Very Good from me but I found the remaining story "The Tomb Wife" by Gwyneth Jones a bit disappointing. It involves the transporting, in a starship, of a tomb that is "haunted" in a very unusual way. Jones introduces a lot of concepts here but they did not all come together for me.
Still, that was only slightly disappointing and this issue is well worth picking up. Better yet, you should subscribe.