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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 2002
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 2002
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

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Soyka

Regular readers have been expecting to see M. Rickert's "Leda" for quite some time as editor Gordon van Gelder kept hinting about it as a cover story whose artwork got delayed. Well, it's finally here and, as they say, well worth the wait. For the first in a series of contemporary retellings of Greek myths, Rickert presents the rape of the title character by a swan from the multiple perspectives of the victim and her husband, as well as, in a darkly funny aside, a rape hotline operator who thinks she's getting a crank call. It is no hysterical imagining, however, as Leda gives birth to an egg, which both she and her husband must sit on to hatch. The egg is no different than any birth, however, in that it transforms a relationship that was beginning to fray into a stronger -- and in some respects more frightening -- bond.

This fecund theme continues with Richard Chwedyk's "Bronte's Egg." Bronte is a "saur" -- bioengineered toys recalled because of their unforeseen intelligence and longevity, as well as the unforeseen cruelty of their juvenile masters. She and her fellow saurs live in "retirement" with a human caretaker. Trouble arises when the saur Axel inadvertently leaks the secret that one of their ilk is hatching an egg, another unforeseen complication that causes their creators to scramble in search of the egg. How the egg is saved involves something called a "Rotomotoman" and involves dialogue such as this among the saurs:

"That's the egg... know what that means?" Axel continued

"No," Agnes sighed impatiently. "What does that mean?"

"Someone's been having SEX!"

"Oh, shut up!" Agnes shouted. "You don't know a thing about it."

"Yes-yes-yes-yes! I learned all about it from Reggie! I saw Animal Mating Practices and Habits, Barnyard Babies, From Sperm to Germ -- or something like that, and -- and I saw Angelique Blows Her Birthday Candles."

Needless to say, the intrepid band of saurs triumph, and Axel, for all his immaturity and incessant blabbing, manages to save the day. Quite silly and frothy compared to the insightful depth of "Leda," but an apt breezy tonic for the hot days of August.

While the relationships among the band of saurs also strengthen through adversity, Michael Libling's "The Fourth Kiss" concerns a destructive school crush that turns deadly -- and, in this case, deservedly so.

An even more bizarre relationship is the subject of "The Synchronous Swimmer" by Harvey Jacobs. The whole point of this idiosyncratic activity is to practice with a partner -- but if you don't have a partner, the next best thing is to invent one. What happens when the invention is not a figment of your imagination, but something quite different?

A relationship gone sour also takes place in the alternative history of "We Come Not to Praise Washington" by Charles Coleman Finlay. Here Aaron Burr duels his nemesis in a slightly different context -- with Alexander Hamilton as the new "Washington," a term that has become the American equivalent of Caesar -- in an attempt to head off the anti-democratic trends of Hamilton's administration.

Robert Thurston's "Who Wants to Live Forever?" explores the logical consequences of someone who answers "I do," with yet another riff on this particular kind of deal with the devil relationship in which you know payment will be made, no matter what provisions are included in the contract. For a "paint by the numbers" approach to writing about classic themes such as this, see Paul Di Fillipo's "Plummage from Pegasus" column. Also be sure to check out Lucius Shepherd's film column, "The Timex Machine," which skewers the recent cinematic version of the classic Wellsian tale. Shepherd takes on the persona of an H.G. Wells who has time traveled to see his great-grandson's botched interpretation. The result:

Thus it was determined that on my return to the past I will not seek to consummate my relationship with the woman who was to have been my second wife, Simon Wells's great-grandmother. Though my feelings for her remain strong, the attraction has been dimmed by my recent experience, and the loss of her affections is not too great a sacrifice if I can expunge this excrescence from the record of history.
Copyright © 2002 David Soyka

David Soyka is a former journalist and college teacher who writes the occasional short story and freelance article. He makes a living writing corporate marketing communications, which is a kind of fiction without the art.


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