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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2011
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

In this issue of the magazine, there is a neat mix of fantasy and science fiction stories, plus novellas for those who like to read something more substantial. "Books to Look For," by Charles de Lint starts off with his review of a debut novel by Lish McBride; Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. It's a funny and endearing story that has readers interested in the characters before the story really gets going. That is the true mark of the writer, and it is understandable why Lish has the power to make SF readers laugh, as writing humour is one of the hardest things to make believable. He goes on to talk of other books on his list, Prince Valiant, by Hal Foster, A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness and Otherworlds, by Tom Kidd.

"Books" by Elizabeth Hand talks about books that feature Star Wars frequently, and is a hoot to read. "Films," by Lucius Shepard has him noticing religion in movies starting with Paul. All in all, this issue has the weird and the wonderful in a compact volume you can take on the train, plane or on foot to enjoy at your leisure.

As usual stories feature highly in these issues, as do the occasional novella -- so have a glance at some of the best ones:

"Sir Morgavain Speaks of Night Dragons and Other Things," by Richard Bowes

Everyone likes Arthurian tales, and this one reads like a bolt from the blue. Sir Morgavain, like many others in Avalon sleeps while under Queen Morgana's spell. Occasionally they wake, but sleep again, their lives rendered useless by her. As far as Merlin is concerned they have been asleep two millennia or more, but he can't be exact about it. Sir Morgavain wakes at certain points in those two millennia and randomly chats to the other knights there who like to observe time changing into a more modern day. This is a time story, and the characters in it can't alter what happens around them, they are powerless and can only observe under Queen Morgana's power.

"Someone Like You," by Michael Alexander

We all have our own ideas about time travel, cause and effect, but what about when death affects us? For one young man, his memory starts in 1964 when he attended an NFL game in Cleveland. Each time he goes back, he notices differences and wants answers, answers to why he had to die, and more importantly who killed him. Every time he sees his mom, he asks her questions about his dad, but it is someone else who is as equally close to him he has to worry about.

He does manage to get to his goal, but it isn't without a certain amount of sacrifice.

"Less Stately Mansions," by Rob Chilson

Jacob Mannhiem is a farmer of the future; he has an extra brain under his scalp that relates information to him; while droids harvest the fields for him. His solace is invaded by Albrecht, and his wife Tomoko, but his good nephew isn't there to visit him, he is there for one reason only and that is to take him to court. Jacob has been working his farm alone for many years as none of his family has been interested in helping him with it. He doesn't resent them, it's their choice after all, yet he has a longing for someone to come and chat with him the way it used to be.

This story though set in the future shows that even if a man has robotic help on his farm, he can still be labelled as stubborn, old-fashioned, and unwilling to move forward when new technology comes along as well as new opportunities.

"Hair," by Joan Aiken

Sarah has lived in her mother's shadow for several years, and now that she is of age, she wants to leave and see a little of the world. When Sarah dies, her husband, under her instructions has to visit her mother and give her a lock of hair -- that would confirm to her that she has indeed passed on.

Her mother though, hides a secret Orford might not ever want to know. This is an eerily Gothic story that has the hairs tingling on the back of the neck.

"The Way it Works Out and All," by Peter S. Beagle

One man remembers the past when he used to receive postcards from all the places he had been, from all four corners of the world. He remembers his friend and all the things they used to chat about when they got together, and drank. But in the present he has his memories to go by, and one in particular haunts him, and it means, yes, you've guessed it, time travel again, but in a totally different way.

This reads like a series of diary entries and excerpts and has an old feeling to it. I enjoyed the science fiction elements in it like Star Trek and the way peter brought out Avram's character.

"The Witch of Corinth," by Steven Saylor

Gordianus and his old tutor Antipater live in ancient times, and wander far and wide, taking in the daily lives of others around them. One day finds them reaching an inn where they come to spend the night before moving on. When they stay there, talk of witches and witchcraft go around the place like germs. They realize they have to investigate the possibility of witches being in the area, and they find some stone tablets that have spells carved onto them; and have even darker news to tell the inn mates ones they return. They find out they have been killed, but who by?

Such is how Steven Saylor's story starts -- with Gordianus and Antipater an old style murder investigation. He takes the reader into what it would have been like living in such an ancient time and what a bit of fantasy put into the mix would do.

"Bronsky's Dates With Death," by Peter David

Everyone has a time to die, but not everyone has a date or time written on a note attached to something, but Bronsky has, and he doesn't think it's a joke at all. Death waits for him, and he doesn't like folk to be late. Death isn't what he expects him to be, though, and it holds his interest more than if he'd been an ordinary, everyday Death.

No, Death is a bit different, but more so than Terry Pratchett's depiction of him. Fans of Peter David's work on Star Trek and Babylon 5 will find this very different from his usual work and as it is a very light-hearted story of a man's life, and even though he has been waiting for death, someone else has been waiting for him too.

Copyright © 2011 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes likes the way the world can be viewed at all different angles from orbit -- it gives her a tingly feeling that never goes away! She has her work published in Quail Bell, Love Romance Passion, Love Vampires and Romance Review Magazine.

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