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The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction August/September 2009 - Volume 116, No. , Whole No. 684
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Cory and Catska Ench
Review by Sam Tomaino
Fantasy & Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1095-8258
Date: 27 June 2009

Links: F&SF Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The August/September 2009 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is here with stories by Sean McMullen, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Yoon Ha Lee, Rand B. Lee, Albert E. Cowdrey, Bruce Sterling, Nancy Springer, Matthew Hughes,Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, and two Classic Reprints from Tina Kuzminski, and Jessie Thompson..

The August/September 2009 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction continues the lead-up to their sixtieth anniversary in fine fashion with all the stories being quality ones.

The issue starts with "The Art of the Dragon" by Sean McMullen. When a dragon suddenly appears and starts eating the world's greatest art, an art historian finds himself in very great demand and then in very great danger. This was a wild imaginative tale.

Nancy Springer follows with "You Are Such a One". This is the kind of story that builds slowly and finishes well. A woman en route to the funeral of a relative whom she does not even know, comes upon a house that she has only seen in her dreams. Things get even stranger in this very effective piece by one of the best writers in the field.

The background of "A Token of Better Age" by Melinda M. Snodgrass is the same as two of her recent novels but I had no trouble following it. A Roman centurion shares dungeon space with a disgraced patrician who tells him a strange tale about a servant named Scientius and monsters from another dimension. Snodgrass blends science fiction with Ancient History very well here.

The latest story from Matthew Hughes is not, alas, set in Penultimate Earth, but our own time. Still, "Hunchster" is a nice little read about a card player who wins on hunches. His fellow players wonder how he is successful and show up at his apartment where he shows them his invention. Like I said, a modest little story but quite enjoyable.

"The Bones of Giants" by Yoon Ha Lee is a rich imaginative fantasy about a man named Tamim who encounters a strange woman who reveals herself to be a necromancer. She revives the bones of two giants and starts to instruct Tamsin in necromancy. They set off to confront the evil ruler of the land.

The next story is from France. "Icarus Saved from the Skies" by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud (and translated by Edward Gauvin) is about a man who is growing wings but tries to cover that up. He meets a woman who truly appreciates him in this elegant little fantasy.

Lawrence C. Connolly’s "The Others" is a sequel to his previous "Daughters of Prime" in the July 2007 issue. Cara Randall has been sent to observe a planet but she is not alone. There are several; different versions of her, all with a different task to do. Connolly does a nice job exploring the consequences of such a system. .

I’ve been reading the stories of Rand. B. Lee for decades and "Three Leaves of Aloe" is another good one. Set in a near-future India, the story opens with a woman named Amrit Chaudhury called into her supervisor’s office at work. Seems her daughter, Meera, has been caught fighting at school once again. The creepy Vice-Principal threatens to expel her unless she has what is called a nannychip installed to control her behavior. Amrit wrestles with a difficult decision in the well-written tale.

Albert E. Cowdrey is one of my favorite authors and I thoroughly enjoyed his latest, "The Private Eye". This is not set in New Orleans but a small town in Louisiana called Bougalou. Jimmy John Link seems like an ordinary guy but he has psychic powers. He first uses this to win at cards, until he is banned from the local casino. Then, he is called in on a kidnapping case and his life takes a different turn. All this comes together for another high quality piece of writing from one of the F&SF superstars.

The last story in this issue is from Bruce Sterling and is a wild romp of a piece. In "Esoteric City", Achille Ochietti is a rich man with a special talent. He can revive the dead. He revives an Egyptian mummy named Djoser and learns many strange things from him. Sterling weaves together many elements for a truly wondrous story.

The tradition of classic reprints continues with one chosen by Gordon Van Gelder himself "The Goddamned Tooth Fairy" by Tina Kuzminski is a beautiful little story about a man named Ute who is trying to raise a young daughter after the death of his wife. A special date turns things around. I liked this one a lot.

The other reprint was chosen by Harlan Ellison. "Snowfall" by Jessie Thompson is not a story that would benefit from a couple of lines of summary. All I’ll say is that Ellison was right to choose it and you should give it a look.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is continues to delight and next month is the Sixtieth Anniversary issue. I can’t wait! You should all subscribe.

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