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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – December 2008 - Volume 115, No. 6, Whole No. 679
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Bob Eggleton
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 27 October 2008

Links: Fantasy & Science Fiction / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The December 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is here with stories by Wayne Wightman, Robert Reed (Surprise!), Albert E. Cowdrey, John Langan, Eugene Mirabelli, and a Classic Reprint from Warner Law.

The December 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction shows why I like this magazine so much. All the stories were a truly enjoyable read.

The issue has four novelets. "A Foreign Country" by Wayne Wightman is real topical right now as it concerns a Presidential Election. Our narrator is one Quentin A. Denmore, a reporter for the United News Association, covering a third party candidate named Roger Allen Faber. Faber only polls at 13%. Incredibly, Faber wins and things get really strange from there. Wightman does not solve any political problems here but that's not his intention. He does write a wild story that is very entertaining.

It would not quite seem an issue of F&SF without a Robert Reed story and "Leave" is the one for this issue. John is an anti-war activist and he and his wife, Cheryl, are good friends of another anti-war couple, Don and Amanda. When the latter's son, Little Donnie (LD), disappears, it becomes apparent that he has gone off with aliens called "the Kuipers". For some 40 years, the Kuipers have been recruiting humans to fight in their 20 million year war. These soldiers serve thirty years and then return home and that's how reports of them have become known. There is still time to get LD back before he leaves. Reed scores again with another unforgettable story.

Another frequent contributor to the magazine, Albert E. Cowdrey. He also has a story here, "A Skeptical Spirit". Albion Merkel buys a house in Bonaparte, Mississippi and being a physic researcher, hopes to attract some ghosts. But none show up. It turns out that the house has a ghost, a doctor who was a devout atheist who committed suicide in 1928. The ghost refuses to believe he's dead and his skepticism keeps other ghosts away. With some help, Merkel resolves the situation and, once more, Cowdrey shows that he is the South's best supernatural writer.

Well, there's an easy way to describe "How the Day Runs Down" by John Langan. It's "Night of the Living Dead" meets "Our Town" and while it is a bit satirical, it also manages to be pretty horrifying. That's quite an achievement.

The single short story here is "Falling Angel" by Eugene Mirabelli. On a hot August day in 1967, Brendan is startled to see a body fall or float down from the sky. It is a winged female body and things change for Brendan in this richly-told tale.

As part of their 60th Anniversary, they are reprinting classics from the past. In this issue, it's "The Alarming Letters From Scottsdale" by Warner Law which appeared in the April 1973 issue. It's an amusing (but a little scary) tale about a mystery writer who adopts a stray dog that reminds him of Dashiell Hammett. Through a series of letters, his publisher becomes alarmed and sends someone to investigate. This was a pleasant enough tale, but I wouldn't call it a lost gem.

I know I sound like a broken record (does anyone understand that simile any more?) but Gordon Van Gelder puts together a consistently high quality magazine, every month. Subscribe already!

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