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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – January 2008 by Gordon Van Gelder
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Darrel Anderson
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 25 November 2007 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction delivers its January 2008 issue with entertaining stories by Sean McMullen. John Kessel, Alex Irvine, Michaela Roessner, Ruth Nestvold, James Powell, Paul Di Filippo as well as the usual features.

I always look forward to reading The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and the January 2008 issue does not disappoint. All the stories got a very good from me.

The issue starts out with "The Twilight Year" by Sean McMullen. Set in the "mid-530s" when Krakatoa exploded and Europe had a year without a summer. Valcian, a general from the Eastern Roman Empire is seeking to re-establish Roman rule in Britannia. He meets a priest and a bard who constantly talk about a warrior named Arturian who has won battles against the Saxons. Valcian confronts Quintus Flavorius, a old-style Roman warlord who keeps to traditional pagan ways. But things do not go well for either "Roman" and a legend is born. Michaela Roessner follows with "It's a Wonderful Life", which should alert any film buff for a certain kind of story. Cal is a janitor in an unusual research facility. Men constantly vanish, being propelled into the past, to change it in some dramatic way. They never return and things are never changed. But Cal has a little more modest change in mind. John Kessel's "Pride and Prometheus" is a delight and was my favorite story in the issue. Miss Mary Bennet is a spinster in the milieu that Jane Austen knew so well. Her older sisters are married and her youngest sister is being presented to society. She has few prospects and really doesn't care. But at one party, she meets two travelers from Switzerland, Henry Clerval and the mysterious Victor Frankenstein. Things proceed from there. Kessel skillfully combines two woman writers of the 19th century in a wonderful story.

Next comes, "Mars: A Traveler's Guide" by Ruth Nestvold. In this clever little tale, we seem to be conversing with some kind of computer that first indicates that "we" have chosen the topic dust storms. We are led to one topic after another and learn a bit but not enough. This one is great satire on the drawbacks of computerized help systems. James Powell contributes his first F&SF story in "The Quest for Creeping Charlie". A young man named George Muir, while looking in an old book, comes across this "When asked to name the smartest of all animals an ancient wise man replied 'Surely the megamensalopes, because they have avoided discovery by man.'" He finds a purpose in life. He renames these creatures "Creeping Charlies" and sets out on his quest. Will he be successful?

The last story in this issue is "Mystery Hill" by Alex Irvine. In"an odd corner of the Wolverine State", Ken Kassarjian runs a theme park called Mystery Hill. He has added things like a miniature golf course to it, but it's main feature is that in a certain part, water runs uphill. He attracts tourists, cultists and university professors. But there is a reason why things are so unusual here and with the help of a nut named Little Boozy, a professor named Fara Oussemitski and an ex-lover called Vera of the Forked Tongue, he finds out what it is.

Once again, Gordon Van Gelder has shown us why F&SF is in its 59th year of publication. You should subscribe to it.

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