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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction June/July 2009 - Volume 116, No. , Whole No. 683
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Ron Miller for
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 24 April 2009 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The June/July 2009 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is here with stories by Albert E. Cowdrey, Robert Reed, Wayne Wightman, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Mike O'Driscoll, John Kessel, Terry Bisson, and Classic Reprints from John Varley and Gary Jennings.

The June/July 2009 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is another good one with all the stories well worth reading.

It would not be an issue of F&SF without a story by Robert Reed and "Firehorn" is a very good example of his talent. It begins with a man named Gabriel Tanbridge, looking back fifty years at his youth in a small town out in the middle of nowhere in the Nevada desert. He's one of the older members of a little club of boys and girls. One day, he arrives at their clubhouse telling them he had seen "it". When Morgan, a girl he's in love with, arrives and he says he saw "the monster", she immediately backs his story, made up on the spot, and calls it "the Firehorn". So a legend is born and spreads throughout the world. In the present of the story, presumably fifty years from now, he and Morgan lead a group out to the ruins of the old deserted town to find some answers. Reed, again, shows us why he is a storyteller like no other.

John Kessel's "The Motorman's Coat" is set in a future Prague, after a vaguely defined disaster. Frantisek Lanik owns a shop of old memorabilia that barely stays in business. One day, a woman offers him a "motorman's coat" from an old electric train line circa 1910. He is immediately interested as the line had been founded by an ancestor of his. Kessel gives us a beautiful story that has a really nice sense of time and place.

The other short story in this issue is a short-short from Terry Bisson called "Corona Centurion™ FAQ". This one is a series of questions about an artificial heart that really tells you more than you'd want to know. You'll get a good laugh over this one.

Albert Cowdrey contributes the issue's novella in "Paradiso Lost". This is set in a far future and features some of the first exploits of Robert Kuhn, last seen in "Murder in the Flying Vatican" in the August 2007 issue. Here, Kuhn is a young lieutenant, part if the crew of the Zhukov. They are tasked with the evacuation of a religious sect from a distant planet after a disastrous war with a group of aliens called "the Zoo". Much goes on during the trip and it makes for another well-told story from Cowdrey.

"Adaptogenia" is an unsettling novelette from Wayne Wightman. It begins with a man named Eliot Aprille, who, one day, when a girl scout comes to his door to sell cookies, notices another girl scout a little ways down the road. Then, she disappears. More strange doppelgangers show up and the explanation for what is happening is truly unique.

Carolyn Ives Gilman comes in next with "Economancer", which (as we are told in the introduction) explains "a lot". Simon Messiter is a young Brit who travels to a remote island nation in the Pacific called Tamaroa, seeking a job in what he has been told will be the next Asian powerhouse. What he finds out there, is something very strange and surprising and one good read.

The issue concludes with "The Spaceman" by Mike O'Driscoll. In a town in Wales, in 1994, three children, Freddie, Mouse, and Jenna meet a spaceman who is in a NASA uniform and says he is the command module pilot of Apollo 20 and that he has lost his crew on the Moon. What is going on here? Freddie doubts his very existence, but Jenna and Mouse believe and we get a sad, touching story.

The first of the classic reprints is "Retrograde Summer" by John Varley. This one features a young man named Timothy who lives on the planet Mercury with his mother. When his "clone sister", Jubilant, who lived on the Moon comes for a visit, he learns some surprising things. This was very much a typical Varley story with much invention and gender-switching.

The other classic was Gary Jenning's "Sooner or Later or Never Never" and was the first in a series of stories starring Crispin Mobey, a missionary of the Primitive Protestant Synod who decides upon reading The Golden Bough that he must go to a primitive tribe in the Australian Outback and convert them. This was a very amusing piece.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is still the best American magazine. You should all subscribe.

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