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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2013
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 2007
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949, is the award-winning SF magazine which is the original publisher of SF classics like Stephen King's Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes's Flowers for Algernon and Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. Each 160-page issue offers compelling short stories and novellas by writers such as Ray Bradbury, Ben Bova, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mike Resnick, Terry Bisson and many others, along with the science fiction field's most respected and outspoken opinions on books, films and science.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Website

A review by Sandra Scholes

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As you will have gathered by now, there are themes to many issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, and this one has to do with planes, trains and automobiles. What is more unusual is that Alex Irvine's "Watching the Cow," gets top billing on the front cover, when David Gerrold's "Night Train to Paris," deserved it more (but only if it had been a novelet instead of a short story -- yes, I know!). That isn't to say Irvine's story wasn't a good one, I liked the feel of Gerrold's one better.

Editorial

"Books to Look for" by Charles de Lint mentions the books he thought were worth reading and comments on those from 2012. Just some of the books are Some Kind of Fairytale by Graham Joyce, The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss, Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch, A Bad Day For Voodoo by Jeff Strand, Graveminder by Melissal Marr and A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison. "Musing on Books" by Michelle West has her concentrating on three novels, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. She recalls the very first adult novel she read, The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt, and goes on to discuss the merits and floors of Gothic novels. One of the novels she reviews caught my attention more than the others; Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. The novel is set in a secondary world where dragons can assume mortal form, though they are not mortal and Seraphina is the daughter of a lawyer responsible for the legal defence of dragons who are accused of crimes. As this is a fantasy setting with a real world twist, it does sound like a good novel I would like to indulge in at some point. "Plumage from Pegasus" by Paul Di Filippo says that truth is danger to fiction. He recounts the tale of when he met fellow University student Hedy Sealyham in a coffee house she worked at. He makes sure she notices him, and she tells all to him in the ladies 'lav' later. What she tells him both shocks and amazes him yet as a fiction writer he can imagine what goes into a novel. I found his sense of humor and the pacing a rewarding read. "Films" by Lucius Shepard has the tag line "Intelligence For Dummies" where he takes us through the films he enjoys; Cosmopolis by David Cronenberg, Branded and Kosmos. "Science" by Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy has them ask the question: "Raise your hand if you've ever seen a TV show in which humans land on an alien planet and immediately breathe the atmosphere with no apparent problem." These two science buffs go on to say that there are many sci-fi series out there who don't give a correct portrayal of the atmospheres on other planets. Paul Doherty and Pat Murphy decide to enlighten us on the unbearable atmospheres on Venus, Mars and Jupiter and why clams are our best friends.

"Watching the Cow by Alex Irvine

Jake gets to know first-hand what it is like for a scientist's research to go wrong when his sister Ariel, by accident, "sent a pulse through seven million sets of VR goggles hooked into seven million game consoles, and that pulse caused a kind of hysterical blindness in the roughly thirty per cent of these seven million people who were under sixteen years of age." Jake keeps what she did a secret as long as she corrects the problem, but how can she turn back what happened? Rather than seeing the story from Ariel's perspective, we get to see it through Jake's. He considers his sister as the genius of the family who isn't known for making errors, so when she does he gets mad at her as she is responsible for those teenagers, and if she can't set this right, she might face jail or worse. We get to see Jake's perseverance through the entire story. His feelings of hurt, pain and self-loathing along with doubt at what she has done, and the fact he has kept what she has done from the authorities.

"Night Train to Paris," by David Gerrold

There are stories that exude atmosphere, and that is why I cited this one as a special one among the many novelets and short stories here. It is part based on fact; as Gerrold had previously attended a Star Trek Italian Club's convention in Bellaria, and a certain man called Claudio (he bears no resemblance to the one in the story) interested him while he was there. Gerrold is famed for giving the public tribbles from Star Trek the original series, The Martian Child and the term "computer virus," for which we are very grateful. "Night Train to Paris," tells of a man who has come from a convention and takes a trip back but ends up on a different train due to an error on his part. Intent only on spending the entire journey reading, he is interrupted by Claudio, a man who has other ideas of how he should spend his time. The idea of there being a mystery about the train they are travelling on, one where many people have been said to disappear is an unsettling one full of suspense, tense drama and has a very gripping ending.

"Devil or Angel," by Matthew Hughes

Now we are in the realm of the novelet with the theme being about planes. Unlike some of the stories, this one centres on the nineties for the story where two people, Michael and Jessica are about to meet and, as the story goes, fall in love. Though rather than it being about these two characters, it is about many other characters that make up the story about these two. Fate Records newest discovery are a band called E-Ville who are planning to release a new sinister reworking of old sixties pop hit "Devil or Angel." For me, the general story detracted from what it was supposed to be about, the two characters mentioned at the start, but it is original and unusual enough to attract the type of readers who want to see someone with a fresh voice.

"The Blue Celeb," by Desmond Warzel

This is Desmond Warzel's F & SF debut as a writer for this magazine, having worked for semi-pro ones Abyss & Apex and Daily Science Fiction. This story shows how two guys can lead their lives unaware of the consequences of their actions. When Bill and Joe return from Vietnam, they set up a barber shop, enjoying a steady routine until the blue celeb car arrives outside their shop. The car stays there for days without any owner showing up. The both of them think it's their car, but don't own up to it. When Frank Boone shows up, they think he's the man to tell them something about who might own it. "The Blue Celeb" is another novelet that gives us an idea of what life was like after the events of the Vietnam War. Joe and Bill have come back to have some peace and quiet, but when they find the abandoned car, this seems to change everything. They want to know who owns it, and I can understand their curiosity as this is a decent story that acts as a mystery, but not just about the car's mystery owner, it's about the car itself.

This magazine is a mixed bag of fantasy, science fiction and light horror with, for me anyway, the "Night Train to Paris," story winning hands down for its scare factor and general unease as you read, so full kudos points to David Gerrold.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra likes to relax some of the time with a good book or magazine that takes her fancy when she isn't reviewing (which is most of the time) and she's been published in Love Romance Passion, Active Anime, The British Fantasy Society, Quail Bell and Fantasy Book Review.


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