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Editor’s Note for Jan/Feb 2016

The January/February issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is now on sale! You can order a single copy of the issue from our website or buy an electronic edition from Amazon or AmazonUK.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2016, cover by Bob Eggleton
Usually we start with a story we love and commission a cover for it, but when Bob Eggleton sent us the Martian landscape that adorns this issue, we snatched up the illustration and went looking for stories to match. Eggleton did his first cover for F&SF in 1991 and won four Chesley Awards for his F&SF covers (May 1996, May 1998, August 1999, July 2003). It’s been a few years since we featured his work on the magazine and we’re glad to have him back.


We’re also excited to share the three stories that we’ve lined up for this issue to go with the cover. We start with discoveries: in addition to his many literary achievements, Gregory Benford is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of California, Irvine, has been an advisor to NASA, and has served on the board of the Mars Society, so he’s uniquely suited to write about Martian exploration. His novel The Martian Race (1999) and its sequel The Sunborn (2005), were about the first team of scientists-explorers to visit the fourth planet. With “Vortex” in this issue, Benford continues those Martian explorations. From beginning to ends: in our second Martian tale, “Number Nine Moon” by Alex Irvine, we have an adventure story about mankind’s final day on Mars. And how things might have been: most stories set on our neighboring planet take place in the future, but Mary Robinette Kowal won the 2014 Hugo Award for “The Lady Astronaut of Mars,” which is set in an alternate history where a Martian base was established in the 1950s using the technology available in that era. “Rockets Red” by Kowal is set in that same Bradburyian universe.


But the issue isn’t all about outer space and other planets. “Smooth Stones and Empty Bones” in the debut story by Bennett North, a tale that skirts the borders of fantasy and horror to explore love and loss. That’s followed by “The White Piano” a ghost story by David Gerrold, who last appeared in our September/October issue with his vampire story, “Monsieur.”

We follow that with a group of science fiction stories that take place here on Earth, starting with “Caspar D. Luckinbill, What Are You Going to Do?” by Nick Wolven. Wolven’s previous story for F&SFF&SF. “Robot From The Future,” this issue’s contribution, offers exactly what the title promises… and more. Leo Vladimirksy debuted in F&SF with the grim near future story “Collar” (March/April, 2014). He returns to that same desperate possible future in this issue with “Squidtown.”

The issue also includes a generous helping of fantasy, set on other worlds and our own. “Touch Me All Over” by Betsy James is her second story for F&SF, following “Paradise and Trout” (July/August, 2015). She tells us that it began when she imagined a knife so sharp it would cut through anything humans could create. In recent years, one of the most popular series with our readers has been Matthew Hughes’s tales from the Archonate universe. Of all the colorful Archonate personalities to traverse these pages – Guth Bandar, aspiring academic; Henghis Hapthorn, freelance discriminator; Luff Imbry, master criminal – perhaps none have been as welcome as Raffalon the Thief, who returns in this issue with “Telltale.” Albert E. Cowdrey’s stories can often be difficult to classify, which is just one of the reasons we love them. “The Visionaries” in this issue is one of those stories which straddles genre boundaries, but is very specific in its final effect.

The issue ends with “Braid of Days and Wake of Nights” by E. Lily Yu, who dedicates it in part to Jay Lake. Lake was one of the most prolific and promising young writers of the decade that stretched from 2004, when he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction, to 2014, when cancer cut his life prematurely short. Like Lake, Yu is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award, taking home the trophy in 2012. This is her first story for F&SF.

That’s 12 stories and over 80,000 words of fiction!


Every issue features one story that we also offer for free download online, via our free electronic digest for Kindle. (The UK version is available here.) This month’s free story — which you can also find in the print edition — is “Vortex” by Gregory Benford. Even if you don’t subscribe to the magazine, you can click on this link and read Benford’s story and all the columns in the issue for free.


Charles de Lint reviews Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers by Stephen King, The Land Beyond All Dreams and Dragon’s Luck by Bryan Fields, the Spirit Caller series by Krista D. Ball, and Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winnick. James Sallis reviews two new story collections, The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey and Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due. David J. Skal reviews the films “Air” and “Z for Zachariah.” In our science column, Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty discuss terraforming Earth to address the effects of runaway carbon and global climate change. And in our Curiosities column, Graham Andrews takes a look at The Truth About Wilson, a 1962 novel about sports, war, and the fantastic by W. S. K. Webb.


After you read the issue, or even part of it, we hope you’ll share your thoughts on one of these sites:

In the meantime… enjoy!

C.C. Finlay
Fantasy & Science Fiction


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